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Political Parties
Guide: Why Political Parties?

These resources highlight the workings of the political party system in the United States. Use this selection of resources to support students' understanding of why and how political parties developed in the U.S. and why they continue to play such an important role in politics and government today. Use the Export to My Lists button above to turn this into a research list for your students.

Theme Key Understandings

  • A government's structure determines how political parties will form and operate
  • Political parties strongly influence the operation of democratic governments
  • Media, public opinion, and policy are interrelated in a democracy
  • The type of media a public consumes influences their understanding of policy and government action
  • Interest groups can be both an effective citizen tool for expression and, if too powerful, a threat to democracy
  • Voting rules and regulations affect election outcomes
  • Interpreting campaign contributions as free speech allows those with money greater access to lawmakers

Key Questions

  • How did the emphasis on majority rule and the need for allies in a democracy contribute to the creation of political parties in the United States?
  • Political candidates have traditionally needed the support of an influential political party to gain high-profile elected positions, but the Internet now allows candidates to raise a significant amount of money without the help of a party. How do you think this will affect the role of political parties in elections in the long run?


  1. Overview: Why Political Parties?
  2. Visuals: Why Political Parties (Visual)
  3. Outline: Outline
  4. Transcript: Transcript
  5. Lesson: Introduction
  6. Lesson: 1-Power of Groups
  7. Lesson: 2-Allies in Democracy
  8. Lesson: 3-Political Campaign Funding
  9. Lesson: Closing
  10. Glossary Terms: majority rule
  11. Glossary Terms: political ideology
  12. Photos & Illustrations: Political party icons
  13. Reference Articles: Republican Party
  14. Reference Articles: U.S. Party Systems
  15. Reference Articles: Two-Party System
  16. Reference Articles: Democratic Party
  17. Reference Articles: Third Party
  18. Political Cartoons, Posters & Document Images: Political cartoon: election of 1912, Up to Date (1906)
  19. Political, Government & Court Documents: Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (2002)
  20. Political, Government & Court Documents: Democratic Party Platform (2012)
  21. Political, Government & Court Documents: Republican Party Platform (2012)

MLA Citation

"Why Political Parties?" History Hub, ABC-CLIO, 2019, historyhub.abc-clio.com/Search/Display/2156158. Accessed 23 Aug. 2019.

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Entry ID: 2156158

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