Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you should be able to do the following:

  • Define political party and identify key players, how they function in the party, and how a political party is distinct from an interest group.
  • Examine the history of political party development in the United States and explore the two waves of political reform that weakened party organization.
  • Describe how American parties are organized and the impact of party structure on political processes in the United States.
  • Understand the causes and effects of a two-party system.
  • Define responsible party government and explain why parties in the United States have been successful or unsuccessful in fulfilling this governing doctrine.
  • Define interest groups and understand the role each type of group plays in American politics.
  • Describe the issues that affect how accurately and equally interest groups represent the concerns of all segments of American society.