The history, mission statements, platforms, and contact information for the current major US political parties are shown below. Political parties were included based on 2004 Presidential election ballot access. Each of the parties below had candidates on the ballot in enough states to have a chance of winning the 270 electoral votes needed to be elected president. Also included is general reference information on the Background of Political Parties in the US and a description of Historical Political Parties in the US such as the Federalist and Whig parties.
"The Constitution makes no provision for political parties. They developed on their own as the country grew, and by the 1830s were an established part of the political environment. Today, the Republicans and Democrats are the two main political parties. They have dominated American politics since the 1860s, and every president since 1852 has been one or the other."
"Voting and the Election Process," uspolitics.america.gov (accessed Sep. 24, 2008)
Political party committees are required to register with the Federal Election Commission (FEC) when they reach certain thresholds for spending or contributions. According to the FEC, "the Commission determines whether committees meet the criteria for state or national party committee status through the advisory opinion process. For state committee status, the Commission has generally looked to see if the committee engages in activities that are commensurate with the day-to-day operations of a party at the state level, and if the committee has gained ballot access for its federal candidates. For national committee status, the criteria include:
Nominating qualified candidates for President and various Congressional offices in numerous states;
Engaging in certain activities--such as voter registration and get-out-the-vote drives--on an ongoing basis;
Publicizing the party's supporters and primary issues throughout the nation;
In 1992, a coalition of independent state parties united to form the U.S. Taxpayers Party.
In 1995, the party became the fifth political party to be formally recognized by the Federal Election Commission as a national political party. In 1996 the party achieved ballot access in 39 states.
In 1999, at its national nominating convention for the 2000 elections, convention delegates chose to change the party name to "Constitution Party," believing that the new name better reflected the party's primary policy approach of enforcing the U.S. Constitution's provisions and limitations.
In November, 2006 the Constitution Party had 193 candidates on the ballot, including 6 US Senate candidates.
"History," Constitution Party website (accessed Sep. 24, 2008)
"The mission of the Constitution Party is to secure the blessings of liberty to ourselves and our posterity through the election, at all levels of government, of Constitution Party candidates who will uphold the principles of the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution of the United States. It is our goal to limit the federal government to its delegated, enumerated, Constitutional functions and to restore American jurisprudence to its original Biblical common-law foundations."
"Mission Statement," Constitution Party website (accessed Sep. 24, 2008)
Among the issues addressed in the 2008 Constitution Party National Platform are:
Thomas Jefferson founded the Democratic Party in 1792 as a congressional caucus to fight for the Bill of Rights and against the elitist Federalist Party. In 1798, the "party of the common man" was officially named the Democratic-Republican Party, and in 1800 it elected Jefferson as the first Democratic President of the United States.
The election of John Quincy Adams in 1824 was highly contested and led to a four-way split among Democratic-Republicans. A result of the split was the emergence of Andrew Jackson as a national leader. The Jacksonian Democrats created the national convention process, the party platform, and reunified the Democratic Party with Jackson's victories in 1828 and 1832.
The Party held its first National Convention in 1832. In 1844, the National Convention simplified the Party's name to the Democratic Party. In 1848, the National Convention established the Democratic National Committee, now the longest running political organization in the world.
The donkey is the unofficial symbol of the Democratic Party. When Andrew Jackson ran for president in 1828, his opponents tried to label him a "jackass" for his populist views and his slogan, "Let the people rule." Jackson used the donkey on his campaign posters. Thomas Nast, a famous political cartoonist, used the donkey in an 1870 Harper's Weekly cartoon and increased the symbol's popularity.
Past Presidents from the Democratic party include Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe, John Quincy Adams, Andrew Jackson, Martin Van Buren, James Polk, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Grover Cleveland, Woodrow Wilson, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, Harry Truman, John F. Kennedy, Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton.
"The Democratic Party is committed to keeping our nation safe and expanding opportunity for every American. That commitment is reflected in an agenda that emphasizes the strong economic growth, affordable health care for all Americans, retirement security, open, honest and accountable government, and securing our nation while protecting our civil rights and liberties."
"What We Stand For," democrats.org (accessed Sep. 24, 2008)
Among the issues addressed in the 2008 Democratic National Platform are:
The Green Party of the United States began as the Association of State Green Parties. The ASGP was formed after the 1996 elections to fill a void in national Green politics and to help existing state parties develop.
The Green Party of the United States was formed in 2001 as a reincarnation of the older Association of State Green Parties (1996-2001).
The Green Party of the United States is a federation of state Green Parties.
Total States with Green Party Ballot Status: 15 full, 4 partial, 1 minor party, 1 political group
"About," www.gp.org (accessed Sep. 24, 2008)
"The mission of the Green Party of the United States is to build the Green Party into a viable political alternative in the United States, and our operating principle has been to keep it simple and focused."
"About," www.gp.org (accessed Sep. 24, 2008)
"The Green Platform presents an eco-social analysis and vision for our country... We submit a bold vision of our country's future, a Platform on which we stand:
Our Ten Key Values as a guide to a politics of vision and action:
"Our vision is for a world in which all individuals can freely exercise the natural right of sole dominion over their own lives, liberty and property by building a political party that elects Libertarians to public office, and moving public policy in a libertarian direction."
History of the Reform Party of the United States of America
Founded by Ross Perot after he ran as an independent candidate in the 1992 presidential election, in which he garnered 19% of the popular vote, or about 19.7 million votes.
In 1996, the Reform Party was on the ballot in all 50 states. Ross Perot again ran for president and received about 8.5% of the popular vote.
In 1998, Jesse Ventura, a former professional wrestler, was elected Governor of Minnesota as a Reform Party candidate. He left the party in 2000.
In 2000, Pat Buchanan left the Republican party to become a member of the Reform party. Despite internal conflict, the party's nomination went to Buchanan, who won .4% of the popular vote.
Endorsed Raplph Nader in the 2004 Presidential election.
"Reform Party History," Online NewsHour, Aug. 10, 2000
"We, the members of the Reform Party USA, commit ourselves to reform our political system. Together we will work to re-establish trust in our government by electing ethical officials, dedicated to fiscal responsibility and political accountability."
On July 6, 1854, in Jackson, Michigan, the Republican Party formally organized itself by holding its first convention, adopting a platform and nominating a full slate of candidates for state offices.
In 1860, Abraham Lincoln became the first Republican to win the White House.
In 1896, Republicans were the first major party to favor women's suffrage.
Discord struck the Republican Party in the 1912 election as Teddy Roosevelt, dissatisfied with President Taft, led his supporters on the "Bull Moose" ticket against the president.
Past Presidents from the Republican party include Abraham Lincoln, Ulysses Grant, Rutherford Hayes, James Garfield, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, William McKinley, Theodore Roosevelt, William Taft, Warren Harding, Calvin Coolidge, Herbert Hoover, Dwight D. Eisenhower, Richard Nixon, Gerald Ford, Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, and George W. Bush.
The symbol of the Republican Party is the elephant. This symbol of the party was created by cartoonist Thomas Nast and first appeared in Harper's Weekly on November 7, 1874.
For a long time Republicans have been known as the "GOP. Party faithfuls thought it meant the "Grand Old Party." But apparently the original meaning (in 1875) was "Gallant Old Party."
"Republicans have a long and rich history with basic principles: Individuals, not government, can make the best decisions; all people are entitled to equal rights; and decisions are best made close to home."
"The Republican Party - GOP History," www.gop.com (accessed Sep. 24, 2008)
Among the issues addressed in the 2004 Republican Party Platform are:
Defending Our Nation, Supporting Our Heroes, Securing the Peace
"Early political party in the U.S., originally led by Thomas Jefferson and James Madison; it was the forerunner of the present-day Democratic party, which name it formally adopted in 1828. When the party was originally conceived in the 1790s to oppose the Federalist party, it was known simply as the Republican party (but should not be confused with the modern party of that name). Originally known as the Anti-Federalist party." "Democratic-Republican Party," history.com (accessed Dec. 7, 2007)
"American political party of the late 18th and early 19th centuries. It originated in the groups advocating the creation of a stronger national government after 1781. The Federalist party's early leaders included Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and George Washington. By 1824 the Federalists had ceased to function as an effective political organization." "Federalist Party," history.com (accessed Dec. 7, 2007)
Short-lived party organized to oppose the Federalist party; later transitioned into the Democratic-Republican party (current-day Democratic Party). The Anti-federalists' major contribution to U.S. history was pushing for the passage of the Bill of Rights. Major leaders included George Clinton, Thomas Jefferson and Aaron Burr.
National Republican Party
"The National Republican Party emerged from... ¦the supporters of the administration of President John Quincy Adams. It controlled the Congress of 1825-1827 only, then lost the Presidency in 1828. The party merged into the Whig Party in 1834." "National-Republican Party," ourcampaigns.com (accessed Dec. 7, 2007)
"The Whig Party formed out of the National Republican Party... The Whigs believed in a 'loose construction' of the Constitution which included supporting big government with a national bank and the congressional regulation of the expansion of slavery. [Later] the Republican Party absorbed anti-slavery Whigs." "Political Party Timeline," pbs.org (accessed Dec. 7, 2007)
Constitutional Union Party
"Short-lived political party formed chiefly of the remnants of the Know-Nothings, the southern wing of the Whig party, and other southern groups... The party's formation was prompted by the desire to muster popular sentiment for the Union and against southern secession... The strength of the party, coupled with the split between the northern and southern sections of the Democratic party, contributed to the victory of Abraham Lincoln, the Republican presidential candidate. Following the 1860 campaign the Constitutional Union party was dissolved." "Constitutional Union Party," history.com (accessed Dec. 7, 2007)