Political Parties

Directions - Answer the questions using complete sentences on your own paper. After number 4, click on the blue links to find the rest of the information you need to know.

1. Why did George Washington fear political parties?
2. What were the first two real political parties and who led them?
3. What function do third parties serve in the American political system?
4. What is the major goal of American
political parties today?

Political parties are key players in American politics. But the Constitution does not mention political parties. In fact, many of the founders, including George Washington, distrusted permanent political parties, fearing that they would become too powerful. The first two political factions to appear were the Federalists, who supported ratification of the Constitution, and the Anti-Federalists, who opposed ratification. These factions disappeared once the Constitution was ratified. Yet, early in Washington's first administration as president, two new factions formed: the Federalists, who supported Alexander Hamilton and a group that gathered around Thomas Jefferson, called the Democratic Republicans. They were the first real parties.

Throughout most of American history, the United States has had two major parties. Today's Democratic Party can trace its origins to Jefferson's old party. Today's Republican Party can trace its origins to the election of 1854. Along the way, dozens of third parties have come and gone.

Third parties have never received high percentages of votes at election time, but they still serve important functions in the American political system. They give people who disagree with the two major political parties a chance to express their views.

American political parties differ from those in many countries, where parties are often organized to promote a particular political or economic ideology such as socialism, communism, fascism, or capitalism. Others may represent a given economic interest such as labor or farmers. Some have been organized to promote a religious group or interest.

In contrast, American political parties are generally not ideological. Instead, they are made up of a loose collaboration of interests whose goal is to win the next election.

The rest of the assignment will be searching the Internet.

5. What was the Republican Party against that led to its founding?
6. What is the nickname of the Republican Party? (Scroll to the bottom)
7. What is the symbol of the Republican party?
8. Why was it chosen?
9. When was the Democratic Party formed?
10. What is the symbol for the Democratic Party?
11. How was it chosen?
12. What are three differences between liberals and conservatives?
13. Scroll down on the website and pick three of the issues and explain if you are a conservative or a liberal on the issues and why you feel this way.