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Two-Party System Rise in 1796-1840 in the US Essay

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Updated: Jan 23rd, 2021

Introduction

The two-party system in America can be extremely confusing and difficult to an external observer of the American political system. The two parties appear to be coalitions of various interests. The parties are weak in the organizational setup and unending crisis. This can be contrasted to most European parties which have clear, public images that are based on regional, class, ethnic, ideological or religious divisions (McKay, p.435). The most notable aspect of the American political system is that it has always had only two parties that compete for the Whitehouse. These parties have been inclusive in style, non-ideological and in the substance of the policy they present to voters.

This paper seeks to understand why the American part system has taken the shape it has up to this period. Although the American two-party systems have retained its non-ideological status since its inception as two-party, it has remained static and unchanging. The parties have changed dramatically over the 230 years. Major changes have been observed over the past three decades. In order to understand these changes, we can view the developments in terms of the functions the parties play in enhancing political systems.

Birth of the Republican Party

The transition from a one-party system in America to another was far from a complete success. The Civil War destroyed the mass party system effectively as the Southern Democrats were aimed at championing for their exclusive sectional interests. After the War, a dominant Republican Party emerged with its foundation on a broad coalition of support. The South also supported the birth of a new party despite being predominantly Democrats (Seyd, p.717).

Crisis and change in the two-party system

The decline of the political parties in America was bemoaned by the political scientists in the early 1950’s. The identification of the crisis can be made through the erosion of the five functions of the political parties. The decline of these functions in a highly fragmented political system leads to inefficient and weak governments that finally erode the legitimacy of institutions.

The political parties in America were considered to be useful and helpful until the early years of the nineteenth century. Their importance was to mobilize political power using the temporary factions or expedients to respond to certain crises. The political culture and the constitution in the New Republic were sceptical of political parties. They implied to threaten the governments by creating factions, majorly consisting of tyrannies apart from political mass action.

Mass parties were developed in the US under the guidance of Martin and Jackson Van Buren. They carried out the mass action considering the dangers that the founding fathers had foreseen. The Democratic Party had a wide appeal to various principles of political equality which were different from those based on sectional interests of a narrow class. This further developed the parties in a high regard organization instrument. Most people, therefore, realized that working for a political party could bring rewards for the individual.

The members of a political party observed that membership and loyalty to a party brought with it some rewards if the party won, or politicians spoiled the case of a loss. However, the most significant factor that has maintained the existence of the two principal parties was the patronage of the members. In order to assure patronage and deliver a vote, an organization was required. It was during such a period in history that the national and local parties had to acquire permanent organizations (Ranney, p.523).

Therefore, the two-party system in America can be seen as two business giants competing in the same market. The fierce competition between the Democrats and the Republicans tended to keep off other parties from the national politics. Therefore, the success of these parties relied on the managers and the policies which they imposed to the public without mentioning the implementation of these strategies.

Works Cited

McKay, David. “The Reluctant European: Europe as an Issue in British politics.” Britain at the Polls 2005, Ed. John Bartle, Anthony King. Washington, DC: CQ Press, 2006. 78-97. Print.

Ranney, Austin. The Doctrine of Responsible Party Government: It’s Origins and Present State. Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2004. Print.

Seyd, Patrick. “Tony Blair and New Labor.” New Labor Triumphs: Britain at the Polls, Ed. Anthony King et al. Chatham, NJ: Chatham House Publishers, 2008. 49-75. Print.

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IvyPanda. (2021) 'Two-Party System Rise in 1796-1840 in the US'. 23 January.

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