In the United States, the political stage has been dominated by the two-party system right from the era of Federalists versus Jeffersonian Republicans to the ongoing era of Democrats versus Republicans. However, these are not the only parties in the country. American politics is also characterized by the presence of small political parties, which are not in contention for the Presidential elections and thus, are unknown for most of the world. Instead, they field candidates for Congressional and/or state-level offices of the US administration.
American Political Parties Over the Years
The Federalist Party and Democratic-Republican Party were the first two major parties in the American history. The Era of Good Feelings (1816 - 1824) marked the end of the first political system. The second party system began with the modern Democratic Party and Whig Party at loggerheads in the first half of 19th century. The decline of the Whig Party and emergence of the Republican Party marked the beginning of third party system in the second half of the 19th century. The fourth party system, which is referred to as the Progressive Era, was dominated by the Republicans with a brief stint for the Democrats. In fourth party system, the central issues were different from what they were in the third party system. The fifth party system, the one that we follow today, was formed as a result of the New Deal coalition with the Democrats and Republicans at loggerheads in 1933.
Political Parties in the United States Today
As of today, the two major parties in the US political arena are the Democratic Party and Republican Party. Even though various other parties have achieved minor representation at the state as well as national level, it's the two major political parties which have been in control of the US Congress since 1856. Given below are the details of these two and other political entities in the United States as of today.
The Democratic Party (Democrats)
The modern Democratic Party was founded in 1828 from factions of the Democratic-Republican Party. Its ideology is largely based on American liberalism and progressivism. In the US political spectrum, the Democratic Party is considered a center-left party. It is the oldest political party in the United States and also, one of the oldest in the world. As of today, this party has given the United States 15 US Presidents, including President Barack Obama. Other Democrats in the list include Woodrow Wilson (1913 - 1921), Franklin D. Roosevelt (1933 - 1945), Harry Truman (1945 - 1953), etc.
The Republican Party (Republicans)
The Republican Party, also referred to as the Grand Old Party (GOP), was founded by anti-slavery activists, modernizers, and ex-Whigs in 1854. In the US political spectrum, the Republican ideology is typically characterized by American conservatism, social conservatism, and economic liberalism. The Republican Party first came to power within six years of its inception in 1860, under the leadership of President Abraham Lincoln. The last Republican to become the US President was President George W. Bush (Jr.), who served as the president for two consecutive terms. Other Republicans featuring in this list include Theodore Roosevelt (1901 - 1909), Dwight Eisenhower (1953 - 1961), Ronald Reagan (1981 - 1989), etc.
Other Political Parties in the US
Other political parties with a significant role to play in the American politics include the Constitution Party (1992), Libertarian Party (1971), and the Green Party (1980s.) The third largest party in terms of registered voters, the Constitution Party follows the ideology of American nationalism and National conservatism. The Libertarian Party ideology is based on libertarianism and non-interventionism, while that of the Green Party is based on green politics. Other than these, there are other small parties, which do not run for the Presidential polls, but do contest for other offices of the US administration.
|Political Party||Year Formed||Ideology|
|America First Party||2002||Paleoconservatism, economic nationalism, non-interventionism|
|America's Independent Party||2008||Conservatism, Constitutionalism|
|Boston Tea Party||2006||Libertarianism, Non-interventionism|
|Communist Party of the United States of America||1919||Communism, Marxism-Leninism|
|Florida Whig Party||2006||Syncretic politics, Transpartisanship|
|Independence Party of America||2007||Non-partisan democracy, Populism|
|Moderate Party||2006||Moderate, Centrism, Peace Open, Democracy|
|Modern Whig Party||2008||Modern Whig philosophy, Centrism, Pragmatism, Syncretic politics, Transpartisanship|
|National Socialist Movement||1959||Neo-Nazism|
|New American Independent Party||2004||Moderate, Pragmatism, Grassroots democracy|
|Party for Socialism and Liberation||2004||Communism, Marxism-Leninism|
|Peace and Freedom Party||1967||Social democracy, Democratic socialism|
|Pirate Party of the United States||2006||Intellectual property reform, Freedom of information|
|Reform Party of the United States of America||1995||Populism, Centrism|
|Socialist Equality Party||2008||Trotskyism, Socialism|
|Socialist Party USA||1973||Democratic socialism|
|Socialist Workers Party||1938||Socialism, Marxism|
|United States Marijuana Party||2002||Anti-Prohibitionism|
|Unity Party of America||2004||Centrism|
|Working Families Party||1998||Progressivism, Populism, Social democracy|
As of 2004, the Democratic Party had the largest number of registered voters (72 million), followed by the Republican Party (55 million). The landslide victory for President Barack Obama in the 2008 polls gave the Democrats an edge. Whether they will be able to hold on to it, is something that only time will tell.