*Note to the teacher at the bottom of the page
The November 2, 2010 statewide election will be a good example to help students understand what is meant by political parties. There are two basic political parties in the United States. These two parties are the Democratic and the Republican parties. Perhaps you have seen the pictures of the donkey and the elephant, especially during election time. The donkey is the symbol for the Democratic party,and the elephant is the symbol for the Republican party.
During election time, people who want to run for an office sign up to run. Later, two candidates from the group are chosen. This is what is called nominated. In the California, November 2 election, 2010, Meg Whitman, who is a Republican and Jerry Brown, who is a Democrat, are candidates running against each other.
Each party has different interests. For example, one party may be interested in trying to find jobs for people or is interested in education. The other party may be interested in raising taxes or medical care for its citizens. Naturally, each person is going to vote for the candidate that will respond to their personal needs.
In order to get the candidate of their choice, people form groups who have similar interests. They work together and start campaigning. An example of this is when we see ads about the two candidates. One ad will be about the candidate who is running for the Republican party. Another time, we will see an ad about someone who is running for the Democratic party. The people who run these ads are hoping to influence the public as to whom they should vote for.
Every person wants the government to serve his/her interests. The mature citizen wants the government to serve others as well as his/her own interests. This type of person is willing to compromise on certain issues for the benefit both of society and of himself/herself.
Sometimes politicians want to be elected so badly that they make promises and then when elected, don’t follow up on them. As you mature, and the more you understand politics, the wiser your decisions can be when it comes time for voting.
It is also wise to read or watch the news on T.V. and follow discussions as to what’s going on in the news so that you will have some knowledge when it comes to voting. This is not only important when it comes to voting for someone who is running for an office, but also when it comes time to vote for the various issues that come up from time to time. Your lessons in your Political Science class will help you become more interested in politics.
*After the November 2010 election, the sentences referring to the present can be changed to the past tense.
Source: Study Lessons in Civics by Grant T Ball and Lee J. Rosch