The Decline of the Traditional American Party Organizations
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Political parties have been a central component of the American political system for almost two hundred years. During this period the United States grew to become a world power with responsibility to protect and lead the western democracies of the world. American culture has also been radically transformed since the birth of the United states in 1776. The simple lifestyle associated with the early years of this nation has been replaced with a complex technological existence, and both the political parties and the citizens have adjusted accordingly. The nation's forefathers could not have imagined the society we live in today with its heavy reliance on electricity, mass media, and fast transportation. They also would have been shocked at the electoral process today. The political-party organizations have evolved throughout time as well. They originally dominated the political arena and were an important link between the government and the citizens. Parties were informational and organizational bodies which voters heavily relied upon in their election decisions. Historical changes constantly modified their functions. The advent of television had a significant effect on the informational purpose parties once controlled. Recent party reforms and campaign financing laws also changed the parties. The political party organizations have been altered so drastically that they barely resemble the parties of the nineteenth century. They have been demeaned in importance and replaced by a variety of sources. The decline of the political party organizations reflect the changing society around them. In this essay, I hope to clarify and analyze the recently changed roles of the party organizations, and to determine the present role and meaning of political parties in the modern American society.