This selection is complete with a collection of worksheets that seeks to help students understand political parties.

Political Parties are groups that form because they generally have the same or similar beliefs on how a nation should be governed. In the United States there are two major political parties: Democrats and Republicans. We call them the major parties because they generally have the most power and influence to get things done in politics. Democratic ideals focus towards the good of the community and social responsibility. Republicans are more focused on individual rights and justice. There are other political parties, but they do not have enough followers or momentum to get their members elected. With the advent of technology, these candidates have been able to get their message in front of more people and we would expect to these parties gain more momentum.

The reading passages focus on understanding the general views and positions of the two major U.S. political parties as well as alternate third parties. We also look at how these groups relate to their interest groups.

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Political Parties Reading Passage

Political parties serve a number of functions in our political system. Each political party nominates candidates for office.

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Political Parties - Multiple Choice Questions

While having only two main parties lends stability to the U.S. political system and encourages moderation, it also tends to turn complex questions into black and white issues, encouraging conflict rather than reason and rational discussion.

Major U.S. Political Parties

The United States has what is called a two-party system. This means that most of the people in the country align themselves with one of two parties: the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.

Major U.S. Political Parties - Short Answer Questions

What kind of political system does the United States have?

The Republican Party

The central points of Republicanism are rule by the people (popular sovereignty), rule of law, and representative (as opposed to direct) democracy.

QUESTIONS: The Republican Party

The Republican Party today favors as little government intervention into the economy - and people's lives - as possible.

The Democratic Party

Today, the Democratic Party believes that the government should solve social problems, particularly with regards to civil liberties and individual and human rights.

QUESTIONS: The Democratic Party

Why was the Democratic Party the dominant party in the South after the Civil War?

The Green Party

The Greens/Green Party USA, functions much like a political and environmental advocacy group, though it has run several candidates for political office.

QUESTIONS: The Green Party

The first Green Parties were state-level, not national-level, parties inspired by Green Parties in Europe and the South Pacific.

Platforms and Planks Reading Passage

A platform is a set of goals which are generally supported by the candidate's political party.

QUESTIONS: Platforms and Planks

What are some historic examples of planks?

Third Parties

In everyday usage it generally means any party that is NOT the Democratic or Republican Party.

QUESTIONS: Third Parties

Third parties have been more successful in other democratic countries for several reasons.

History in the U.S. Reading Worksheet

When George Washington became our first president, there were no political parties in the United States.

History in the U.S. - Short Answer Questions

George Washington, Alexander Hamilton, and those who supported them thought that the U.S. should have a strong central government and a national financial system.

The Libertarian Party

Libertarianism is a collection of political philosophies based around the core principle of liberty.

The Libertarian Party- Multiple Choice Questions

Most people think that Libertarians want zero government intervention in people's lives, but that is not entirely accurate.

Interest Groups

A special interest group is a group of people that share a specific political interest and who seeks to advance that interest by influencing laws and government policy.

Interest Groups - Short Answer

What are some other names for special interest groups?