The US Political Parties and the Electoral Process

Differences between Democrats and Republicans

In the United States, only two parties have been successful, and many citizens are aware of their differences, even though they are not aware of their ideologies. Generally, liberalism is the main ideology that is associated with the Democratic Party, while conservatism is a philosophy linked with the Republican Party. Liberalism suggests that human rights should always be observed, and the main role of the state is to ensure that equal opportunities are provided to all citizens, irrespective of their gender, social status, race, or ethnicity. On the other hand, conservatism is a principle that is based on the maintenance of the status quo, meaning that the existing societal structure should never be disturbed because it would result in several problems. The two major differences between the two parties are centered on the social policy and the foreign policy (Parker, 2013).

It is noted that religion and morals are the main cornerstones of social policy, yet the parties differ significantly in these aspects. In the past elections, the social policy issues under contention were abortion, homosexuality, and the role of religion in the institutions of learning. The Democratic Party suggested that religion has a special role to play in schools, and the ministry should never try to force students to accept only one form of religion meaning that secularism has to be embraced to enable each person exercise his or her faith (Ceasar, & Busch, 2005).

On the issue of homosexuality, the party does not prevent individuals from choosing a marriage partner, irrespective of gender and sexuality, which means that it endorses homosexuality and gay marriage. Regarding abortion, it allows women to procure an abortion because they have a right to determine their reproductive health rather than stick on what the society expects to do. The Republican Party expresses a different view, as it does not believe in a secular religion. The party only recognizes Christianity as the only form of religion that should be exercised in society, and this explains why it does not support homosexuality and abortion. As Ceasar and Busch (2004) noted, many people who attended church services voted for Bush as their preferred candidate in 2004, as it is believed that a Christian will always formulate policies that aim at improving people’s standards of living.

The second difference lies in the foreign policy, and the two parties have varying approaches to international relations, even though their interest is similar, which is to maintain national security and peace. The war in Iraq is a current foreign issue that has elicited a heated debate among various strategists of the two parties. For Democrats, the interests of the US would best be realized if the war is terminated and the troops are recalled as soon as possible, but Republicans express a different view since they suggest that the war is necessary and the government should pump more funds to the defense ministry (Hershey, 2010).

Because of the anarchic nature of the international system, Republicans observe that the country should form alliances that are based on cooperation and trust with other like-minded states in order to overcome the global challenges, such as terrorism and transnational crime. On this subject, the Democratic Party emphasizes on the significance of being a global actor in the international system instead of expressing an ambition foreign policy that is centered on war. The party observes further that terrorism is a crime that the police should deal with it instead of involving the military. Funding military programs with the aim of combating terrorism is a waste of public resources that should have been channeled to social programs, such as healthcare and education. Republicans prefer dealing with terrorism through military intervention, and the government has to maintain a robust military in case it is to succeed in preventing its citizens from external aggression.

Why Third Parties are Unsuccessful

Many people across the world are unaware of the fact that third parties and private candidates have always existed in the national elections, even though their performance has been dismal. One of the reasons why third parties and private candidates do not perform well is the idea that the winner takes it all in an election, which denies small parties a chance to be represented in government. Again, the two major political parties are believed to represent the interests of various groups, which suggests that if an individual is opposed to the Democratic principle, there will be the likelihood that he or she supports the Republican idea, which is false.

A bigger party will end up adopting the idea that a small party advances, which renders the third party irrelevant. In American history, no media company has ever paid attention to the demands of the smaller party, something that makes people believe in the views of either Democrats or Republicans only. The laws that exist in various states call for third parties to secure their place on the ballot by presenting large numbers of elector marks. This makes it difficult for third parties to secure their place in the ballot, as opposed to the bigger parties that are given involuntary poll access (Levendusky, 2009). The idea of giving funds to smaller political parties after elections deny them an opportunity to prosper in elections. The two major parties are usually funded just after their primary nominations, and this allows them to prepare adequately before an election, which gives them an advantage.

The Role of the Campaign Process in Maintaining the Two-party System

The campaign system in the US is unsupportive of the third parties because of the funding policies, as third parties and private candidates are given funds after elections. This means that candidates would be unable to prepare adequately in elections because of insufficient cash. A candidate cannot manage an election without enough resources, as current campaigns are always intense to the extent that lack of finances disadvantages a candidate. Party competition encourages people to vote for their preferred candidate, and this does not favor smaller parties given the fact that they always have limited support. Since people are aware of the importance of voting, they turn up in large numbers during elections to ensure that their party takes over the management of government.

The electoral system, political establishment, and the overall American tradition support the two-party system. During the campaign process, several state institutions tend to support only the two parties and do not consider the existence of other parties and private candidates. Parties are expected to present their manifestos before elections, and they are judged based on their agenda. If the party undertakes a rigorous campaign, the chances are high that it would gunner many seats in the senate. Historically, the party with the majority votes in the senate has always acquired state power.


Ceasar, J.W., & Busch, A.E. (2005). Red over Blue. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers. Web.

Hershey, M.R. (2010). Party Politics in America. New York: Penguin Books. Web.

Levendusky, M. (2009). The Partisan Sort: How Liberals Became Democrats and Conservatives Became Republicans. Chicago: University of Chicago Press. Web.

Parker, C. S. (2013). Change they can’t believe in: the Tea Party and reactionary politics in America. New York: Free Press. Web.

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DemoEssays. "The US Political Parties and the Electoral Process." February 9, 2022.