Political Parties in Political Science


Political science believes that political parties “created American democracy out of a small experiment in republicanism by drawing the masses into political life” (Doherty 421). The founders of the American state attempted to come up with associations in which groups and parties were weak. Political scientists allege that political parties emerged when American democracy was still young. Afterwards, normative theorists who were skeptical about the political parties started seeing them as a horrible reality (Doherty 425). Some theorists see the political parties as stubborn weeds that grow in what is supposed to be a nurtured backyard of democratic associations. Nevertheless, political parties were highly regarded by a majority of champions of democracy. On one side, political parties ensure that the government works for the benefit of its people while, on the other hand, they propagate partisan interests. Additionally, political parties influence legislative processes and “give voters an object to hold to account” (Doherty 428). Political science alleges that political parties are prevalent in democracy. Students of democracy admit that political parties help to stabilize legislative policies. Additionally, lawmakers use political parties to sell their policies. This paper will discuss what political science says about political parties.

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Understanding political party

According to political science, political parties can be construed in two ways. It perceives political parties as groups of prospective aspirants for office. Jenkins, Schickler and Carson argue that political parties can be regarded as the connection between the voters and elites (541). They claim that political parties have a representative feature, linking different collective groups to civic office. Political scientists argue that political parties are therefore systems through which individuals become political leaders. One can only assume a political position by being associated with a particular political party. The second way of understanding political parties is treating them as pools of people looking for official positions.

According to this perspective, political parties are made up of intellectuals contending for political office (Neiheisel and Niebler 379). Political scientists state that political parties establish institutions to increase their probability of winning political positions. Hence, political science alleges that political parties are responsible for scheming political opportunity structures, which are important for candidate appearance. Political parties establish institutional issues like incumbency, party organizations and electoral guidelines, which increase the chances of their candidates winning.

Political scientists believe that political parties dictate who gets nominated. Political science argues that being in the majority party negatively affects women, when it comes to nominations (Neiheisel and Niebler 386). In the United States for instance, the dominating political party always records a small number of women who are elected. One of the reasons few women win electoral positions is because political parties do not field women to contest for the positions. Additionally, they do not fund or mentor women who wish to vie for elective positions (Sanbonmatsu 797). Political scientists blame the small women representation in Democratic Party to its conventional gender role principles. On the other hand, the high number of female legislators in Republican Party is an indication that the party has a hand in how nominations are carried out.

Political parties and democracy

According to political science, political parties are rife to egalitarianism. However, their level of institutionalization, number, and organization differ extremely from one country to another. Political scientists admit, “The size of the party system and its scope has profound normative implications” (Sanbonmatsu 800). Because political parties communicate the views, concerns and inclinations of the masses to the government, then their censorship through party system affects the value of democracy. It is hard for the government to be accountable for its actions without political parties. Therefore, political science views political parties as government watchdogs (Sanbonmatsu 803). Political scientists argue that political parties determine the usefulness of laws passed by parliament. They hold the government accountable for the legislation formulated in house. The minority political parties work around the clock to guarantee that the majority party does not use partial politics to accelerate legislation procedures to promote its agenda.

Procedural cartels

Political science and scientists view political parties as procedural cartels. Political science analyzes how political parties can mobilize politicians and voters to support their agendas in the contemporary democracies (Clark 495). In the United States, the electoral system makes it hard for political parties to create a responsible government that delivers on all its promises. The electoral system promotes personalized inducements. It is easier for an individual to develop a personal status with the voters, which is different from the party brand (Clark 497). Political parties look for other enticements to lure individuals who may be in a better position by detaching themselves from the voters to prop up the party stand. It helps to maintain the party’s image. Clark claims that in doing this, political parties serve as cartels that commandeer the ritual powers of the chamber to come up with results that suit the party and its followers (498). In some cases, political parties allow their influential members to drop party politics and pursue personal agenda if they feel that party politics threaten their relationship with the constituents. It is as a result of these political manipulations that political science depicts political parties as procedural cartels.

Every political party deliberates on policies to support. Nevertheless, political scientists posit that it is hard to tell whose opinions political parties support. They argue that some individuals associate with different political parties despite them disagreeing with the parties’ policies. Besides, the scientists claim, “There can be vast differences between political parties at the local, state and national level” (Clark 500). In other words, political science tells us that political parties always do not represent the opinion of certain party members or factions. Instead, the parties’ policies keep on changing to suit the target electorate group. Political scientists identify variations in party policies as one of the reasons political parties are not able to deliver on all their promises when voted.

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Political parties as avenues to public life

At times, we try to figure out why people become loyal to certain political parties or why politicians like to associate with particular political parties. These puzzles are answered in political science. Political scientists view political parties as the avenues through which people participate in public life (Hasecke and Mycoff 609). Voters associate with parties and candidates that support their opinions and interests. Even though the connection between political parties and people has reduced, scores of people still prefer one political party to the other. Political science gives numerous reasons people associate with political parties. Some of the reasons include ethnic history, economic and political grounds, family history and party brand and ideologies (Hasecke and Mycoff 611).

According to political science, one of the reasons for establishing a political party is to serve interests of the electorates. Political parties use party brand to communicate their ideologies to the public. The same case happens to party members. People can communicate their ideas to the public by associating with a particular political party’s brand (Hasecke and Mycoff 614). The Republicans are known for their emphasis on national security and fight against terrorism. Hence, anyone supporting the Republican Party can be said to promote national security because he or she identifies with the party’s ideologies.


Political science blames political parties for the increased polarization in the countries. According to Herrnson, political parties continue adopting ideologically different positions causing polarization amidst the body of voters and leaders (1208). For instance, approval of the Voting Rights Act led to the Democratic Party losing majority of its followers while the Republican Party gained more followers (Herrnson 1209). Political scientists have shown “political parties and politicians have an incentive to advance and support polarized positions” (Herrnson 1212). Some political scientists claim that at the beginning of 1990s, the Republican Party employed a polarizing approach to gain influence in the House of Representative.

A research by Nicholson shows that touchy announcements issued by people from different political parties are more likely to cause polarization amongst the voters than statements issued by individuals from the same political party (57). Political parties also consider party polarization when selecting their presidential candidates. They consider what Thomsen refers to as party fit (788). According to Thomsen, party fit is “The congruence between a candidate’s ideology and the ideological reputation of the party delegation to which she would belong upon election” (790). Political science alleges that political parties go for candidates whose ideologies match with those of the party. There has to be ideological agreement with party’s policies for the party to believe that a person stands to achieve these plans.


Political science construes political parties in two ways. It sees the political parties as groups of potential candidates competing for an ordinary job. On the other hand, political science views political parties as a pool of people looking for official jobs. The two approaches help one to understand political parties and their roles in a country. Political parties decide on who is to contend for a particular electoral post. Political scientists claim that political parties are agents of democracy. They communicate to the government the desires and concerns of the public.

Furthermore, political parties ensure that the government formulates and implements useful legislations. They act as government watchdogs. Some political scientists argue that political parties serve as procedural cartels. They manipulate their policies and candidates to suit public desires. In spite of the political parties claiming to fight for the rights of the masses, it is hard to tell whose opinion they represent. Political parties open way to public life to many people. For many people, it is only through political parties that they assume public offices. People communicate their beliefs by associating with political parties that share the same beliefs. Political science claims that political parties are responsible for an increase in polarization. Political parties adopt competing ideologies therefore creating lift among the public.

Works Cited

Clark, Jennifer Hayes. “Examining parties as procedural cartels: evidence from the U.S States.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 37.4 (2012): 491-508. Print.

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Doherty, David. “Presidential rhetoric, candidate evaluation, and party identification: can parties “own” values?” Political Research Quarterly 61.3 (2008): 419-433. Print.

Hasecke, Edward and Jason Mycoff. “Party loyalty and legislative success: are loyal majority party members more successful in the U.S House of Representatives?” Political Research Quarterly 60.4 (2007): 607-617. Print.

Herrnson, Paul. “The roles of party organizations, party-connected committees, and party allies in elections.” The Journal of Politics 71.4 (2009): 1207-1224. Print.

Jenkins, Jeffery, Eric Schickler and Jamie Carson. “Constituency cleavages and congressional parties: measuring homogeneity and polarization, 1857-1913.” Social Science History 28.4 (2004): 537-573. Print.

Neiheisel, Jacob and Sarah Niebler. “The use of party brand labels in Congressional elections campaigns.” Legislative Studies Quarterly 38.3 (2013): 377-404. Print.

Nicholson, Stephen. “Polarizing Cues.” American Journal of Political Science 56.1 (2012): 52-66. Print.

Sanbonmatsu, Kira. “Political parties and the recruitment of women to state legislatures.” The Journal of Politics 64.3 (2002): 791-809. Print.

Thomsen, Dannielle. “Ideological moderates won’t run: how party fit matters for partisan polarization in Congress.” The Journal of Politics 76.3 (2014): 786-797.Print.

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