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What are Political Parties?
Political parties are organizations that develop to attain power through the government, often by participating in electoral campaigns. Some parties, however, do not seek to attain power through elections, but rather focus their efforts on lobbying and more grass-roots efforts. The most extreme cases, may even turn to terrorism as a tactic of gaining political power. Most parties subscribe to ideologies that have allowed individuals to gather together, their common beliefs are often what drive their efforts to attain political power, in hopes of incorporating their ideologies into larger governmental and political forums.
How many political parties are there in the United States?
The average citizen really only knows of two parties in the US. This is because the US is considered a bipartisan, or two-party government. This basically means that while, yes, there are other parties in the US, there are only two major parties with political credibility and sway. Officials running under other parties will rarely be elected, simply because the Republican and Democratic parties are so large and powerful.
The Democratic Party, is actually the oldest political party in the United States and one of the two oldest political parties in the world. The Democratic-Republican Party, renamed the Democratic Party in the 1820s, was founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1792. In our contemporary political environment, the Democratic Party is considered the more liberal of the two major political parties, supporting social programs, civil liberties, equal rights and opportunity, social freedoms and free enterprise regulated by government intervention.
The Republican Party was founded in 1854. In our present political climate, the Republican Party is considered the more conservative of the political parties. The essential ideology of the Republican Party lies in the strong belief and adherence to less or limited government, individualism, free market economics and business entrepreneurship.
While throughout the course of American history there have been a plethora of independent or third parties that have arisen, there are only a few that have caused any significant waves of American politics during the last ten years. The three parties that have attained any true recognition in the last ten years, particularly during large political campaigns, such as the presidential elections, are The Green Party, The Libertarian Party, and the Reform Party.
The Libertarian Party is often referred to the largest American third party. In 1996, Ross Perot ran for president under the Reform Party, which he had founded in 1995, and in 2000, Ralph Nader ran for president with the Green Party. Another famous Reform Party politician, is the former WWF Wrestler and Minnesotan Governor, Jesse Ventura.