Factions or political parties began to form during the struggle for the ratification of the Federal Constitution of 1787. Frictions between them increased as attention shifted from the creation of a new federal government to the question of how powerful that federal government would be. This disagreement led to the need for someone to find a way to make a decision, negotiate a compromise, and ultimately do the work necessary for the group to achieve its objectives. This is a common occurrence in many situations, such as when choosing a restaurant or movie to go to, or completing a big project at school or work. The Republican Party and the Democratic Party have full platforms available on their respective websites. Winning elections and implementing policies is difficult enough in simple political systems, but in a country as complex as the United States, political parties must assume great responsibilities to win elections and coordinate the behavior of the numerous local, state and national government bodies.
Political differences between states and local areas can bring a lot of complexity. If a party adopts positions on issues that few people agree on and therefore forms a coalition that is too tight of voter support, that party can be marginalized. However, if the party takes a position that is too broad on issues, it could find itself in a situation where party members disagree with each other, which would make it difficult to pass laws, even if the party can guarantee victory. It should come as no surprise that the history of the United States is reflected in its political parties. The country has undergone radical changes in its size, its relative power, and its social and demographic composition.
These changes have been reflected in political parties, as they have tried to change their coalitions to establish and maintain power across the country and as the leadership of the parties has changed. As you'll learn later, this also means that the structure and behavior of modern parties largely parallel the current social, demographic, and geographical divisions in the United States. To understand how this happened, we analyze the origins of national political parties in the United States. During the early years of the republic, most politics was local in nature and was based on elite politics, limited suffrage (or the ability to vote in elections), and real estate ownership. The residents of different colonies (and later states) were much more interested in events occurring at their state legislatures than at the national level or later in Washington D.
C.To the extent that domestic problems existed, they were largely limited to collective security efforts to deal with external rivals (such as Britain or France) and perceived internal threats (such as conflicts with Native Americans). However, soon after coming out of the Revolutionary War, a divide began to emerge between two groups that held very different views on the future direction of the United States. The Federalists (who were largely responsible for drafting and ratifying the U. S.
Constitution) favored a stronger and more centralized republic with greater control over economic regulation. On the other hand, Anti-Federalists preferred a more confederate system based on state equality and autonomy. The authors of the Constitution undoubtedly knew that political parties existed in other countries (such as Great Britain), but they hoped to avoid them in America. They felt that due to its federal structure it would be difficult to form national parties. They also expected that since an Electoral College would vote for executive branch candidates (with two most voted becoming president and vice-president), it would discourage formation of parties.
This system worked during first two presidential elections when basically all voters voted for George Washington as president. By 1796 however, Federalist and Anti-Federalist camps had been organized into electoral coalitions. The Anti-Federalists were joined by many others who became known as Democratic-Republicans. Federalist John Adams won Electoral College vote but his authority was undermined when vice-presidency fell to Democratic-Republican Thomas Jefferson who finished second. Four years later Republican Democrats managed to avoid this outcome by coordinating voters to vote for their two main candidates but when vote ended in tie it was ultimately up to Congress to decide who would be third president of United States. Thomas Jefferson nearly lost presidential election of 1800 to his own running mate when flaw in design of Electoral College caused tie that had to be resolved by Congress.
This marked beginning of what historians call Second Party System (first parties had been Federalists and Jeffersonian Republicans) with division of Republican Democrats and formation of two new political parties.Half of 19th century saw two-party system dominate American politics with Republican Party representing business interests while Democratic Party represented interests of farmers and laborers. This period also saw rise of third parties such as Free Soil Party which opposed expansion of slavery into new territories while Populist Party represented interests of farmers against big business. Today's two-party system is result of many factors including history outlined above but also due to fact that it is very difficult for third party candidates to win elections due to winner-take-all system used by most states which makes it hard for third party candidates to gain enough votes for victory. In conclusion, it is clear that development of political parties in United States has been shaped by many factors including history outlined above but also due to fact that it is very difficult for third party candidates to win elections due to winner-take-all system used by most states which makes it hard for third party candidates to gain enough votes for victory.