Political Parties and Elections

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In the United States political parties and elections are the basis for forming our democratic way of life. A party is a group of people that share common ideas and direction within the government. Generally a party nominates a candidate whom they feel will do the best to ensure the principles and values of their party are reflected in government. Political parties are then responsible for campaigning their candidate and then voting him/her into position of power.

In his book Why Parties? John Aldrich explores the history, formation, and importance of political parties to democracies. One of his main arguments is that democracies are unable to work unless they have some type of political party system in place. Aldrich argues that parties are essential for accountability. There is no way to hold one single person accountable for the actions taken by the president, House, and Senate. Blame or praise cannot be given to a single person based on actions that were implemented as a whole. Therefore political parties are the sole institution to accept accountability for events that were a collective effort.

Aldrich also states his observation that political parties are a product of “the politician”. He claims that parties are simply vehicles used by politicians to obtain their own goals and ambitions. He also states that some politicians are only using the partisan goals of the party to put them in a position to accomplish their more fundamental goals. Politicians can only achieve their goals when their political party is efficient at solving problems that would take longer through other means. Aldrich makes the point that technology is one of the major forces that sculpt the nature of parties. For example campaigns have changed drastically over the past few decades as means of communication change drastically. In the past the only way to organize mass elections was through political parties. In today’s technologically advanced society individuals are able to...
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