"We are moderate people, not extremist", declared Hillary Clinton at a meeting in Iowa during the race for the Democrats nomination in 2007. It is a statement which applies to the American people as much as to the political parties. Indeed, the United States, the country which is often upheld as symbol of the democracy, has a particular party system, with parties attached to common ideas. The political life is organized nevertheless around two great distinct parties, the Republican party and the Democrat party, which gather between them the near total of the electorate.
These two parties are adversaries, as was ably demonstrated with the segmentation of the vote to the Congress concerning the approval or the rejection of removal of armed troops from Iraq: broadly, one witnessed a fragmentation of the assembly between Republican falcons and the Democratic doves.
However, a more precise analysis shows a fact surprising for the European eye: within each party, some voted yes and others not, without risks of sanctions from the direction of their party. Such a report proves the specificity of the American parties well, flexible structures gathering the deputies according to their interests rather than according to their ideas. Under these conditions, can one really qualify American political system bipartisan?
Tags: American two-party system, Democrats, republicans, Capitol Hill
[...] While traditionally and roughly, the Democrats mainly affect the southern cities, the poor and the Catholics, and the Republicans affect the north, the countryside, the rich and the Protestants, the clientele of each party includes representatives from all segments of the population and is increasingly fickle. American bipartisanship is therefore original. Their similar ideologies and the public they touch exclude any rigid opposition between the two parties. Thus a flexible bipartisanship is needed in the United States. The meaning of bipartisanship In the assemblies, the party affiliation does not impose contrary obligations on the elected officials. Voting discipline is low and the majorities are changing, depending more on their elected officials than on the voters of their party. [...]
[...] The multiparty system is thus crushed by the power of the two major parties. Bipartisanship is striking, and contrasts between the two distinct projects, as evidenced by the achievements of the two iconic presidents of the parties; Roosevelt among the Democrats and Reagan among Republicans. What is common between Roosevelt's interventionism in the economy of the 1930s and the social plans of the New Deal and the divestiture of the typical "reagonomy" in the 1980s? Yet, the Democratic and Republican positions are not so antagonistic and may converge, as seen in the case of Nixon, a Republican, who brought about a deepening of the welfare state. [...]
[...] Thus, in the United States, the elections are not simply held to choose the rulers, but also numerous officials and judges. For these elections (the President, the State representative in Congress, governor's . the FPTP to a tower is largely dominant. Despite competition from smaller parties or lists of isolated individuals, it is always the lists of the two major parties that are required, with the type of ballot calling the vote resulting in useful bipartisanship. Many third parties often formed around a personality, have tried to impose, but they only exist in a very ephemeral manner, with the main parties quickly recovering their electorates. [...]
[...] This is the party of intellectuals, the poor, minorities, and trade unions. It receives the vote of the left and centre left. The Republican Party was born in 1854. This is the Grand Old Party, symbolized by the elephant. It attracts the middle class, the rich and traditional Americans (WASP). This is a federalist party, wishing to strengthen state control by the central government. In 1914 it was a nationalist party which was anti-slavery, and supported industrial protectionism. Since World War II, it earned confidence in the markets, and is hostile to a social policy which is too benevolent. [...]
[...] Under these conditions, the bipartisan system in the U.S. does not have the same meaning as the English bipartisanship. The alternation in power between the Republicans and Democrats should not delude the observer. The teams take turns to fail with a program, and have very different views on the evolution of society. The country is never entirely governed either by the Republicans or the Democrats. The election of the President relies on specific problems, as the majority party is not the presidential majority, and the other, the opposition. [...]
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