The four roles of political parties are: selecting candidates to run for office, keeping the other political parties in check, keeping the public informed on issues, and organizing the government. There are two major political parties in the United States government, Democrats and Republicans, making the country a two-party system. Occasionally, candidates from other parties will run for office, such as Ralph Nader of the Green Party, who was a presidential candidate in 1996 and 2000.
The Democratic Party was founded by supporters of Thomas Jefferson in 1792. Members originally called themselves Republicans and became known as Democrats in the 1830s. The Republican Party was formed in 1854 in Wisconsin by former members of the Whig Party. As with all political parties, they take on the following roles:
- Each part selects candidates for elected office positions and present those candidates to the general public. Each party's candidate present their views on major policy issues and how they differ from the other candidates.
- The political party that has the minority in Congress keeps the majority party in check and from taking complete control of the government.
- Each political party takes a stand on issues and can criticize the views of the other party. This can be in the form of discussions or debates, which are publicized to the public to keep citizens informed
- State legislatures and the U.S. Congress are organized based on the political party affiliation of each member. Many votes for potential laws fall on party lines.