Political parties in our system have a dilemma--how to keep the core ideological base satisfied while appealing to enough more moderate voters that they can win elections in diverse constituencies.
In a small district, this is not likely to be a problem.
Conservative Republicans and liberal Democrats can be nominated and elected.
As constituencies get larger, parties have a choice.
They can be moderate and win elections, or they can be pure and lose.
There are internal forces that pull the parties away from each other, to the opposite ends of the ideological spectrum, but external electoral forces can push them together.
Understanding electoral politics in America is dependent on these forces.
We look at these relationships more closely in this section.
You have to do some homework if that is the case.
A party platform is a document that outlines the party's political positions and agenda for the coming years.
You can think of the party platform as a political dating profile, filled with information that can help you make sound decisions about whether you want to pursue a relationship with one party or another.
Before you get involved with a party, we encourage you to read the platform of your preferred party and consider alternatives.
The full text of each party's platform can be found on the parties' national committee web sites, as well as a few highlights from the two major-party platforms.
The Democratic and Republicans Parties are likely to want to impress their base, while upstarts like the Greens and the Libertarians might be more interested in attracting new members.
Consider how these goals might affect the party platform.
The national convention comes at the end of the presidential primary season.
You can quickly and easily find key words that matter to you in digital information.
Health care, abortion, firearms, terrorism, taxes, and the Supreme Court are all terms that are high on your political priority list.
By voting in party primaries, you can help shape the party of the future, along with its agenda.
Think about how you can best use that power.
Supporting a party doesn't mean you endorse the party line on every issue, but it is a useful way of identifying a clear set of priorities for political action.
You may decide that membership in a party is not important to you, and that you want to be an independent voter.
Remember, come November, you will be choosing among candidates who are affiliated with parties.
Knowing what each party stands for can help you make better decisions in the voting booth, especially in state and local elections where you may not have access to the kind of information made available about national candidates.
The Democratic Party and the Republican Party believe in the same thing.
To bring down college costs and give students access.
Any regulation that increases college costs must be applied to colleges and universities.
We will make worth against the negative community college.
The care system should put people before profits.
Republicans consider the income and wealth establishment of a pro-growth inequality and believe the tax code is a moral imperative.
Large corporations have to pay their fair share of taxes.
Democrats will fight back.
Major forces within the parties keep them distinct: the needs to appease party activists, to raise money, and to keep the candidates true to their own beliefs as well as to those of their base.
Although presidents try to portray their proposals as serving the interests of the general public, the specific policy solutions are almost always consistent with their party's ideological perspective and policy agenda.
The main players in political parties are often called the "party faithful," or people who are especially committed to the values and policies of the party, and who devote more of their resources, in both time and money, to the party's cause.
The activists support the party more than just voting.
They donate their money, volunteer their time, and are involved in party politics.
The party activists are not an official organ of the party, but they are still a vital part of the party.
Compared to the average voter, party activists tend to be more extreme in their beliefs and care more about the party's issues.
Party activists play a key role in keeping the parties ideologically distinct because one of the primary goals of their participation and support is to ensure that the party advocates for their issue positions.
The Democratic Party dealt with this problem by giving more weight to moderates like Bill Clinton and Al Gore and by relabeling themselves as "progressives" with fewer and fewer candidates.
What's at stake.
There was a new populism that found its voice in supporting the candidacy of Donald Trump, which was revealed in the 2016 primaries.
The need to please party activists gives candidates a powerful incentive to remain true to the party's causes.
Less politicians are willing to be moderate and work with the other side, and those who are out of step with their party's most extreme members may find it hard to represent both their party and their people in certain regions of the country.