Section 6: Politics And Elections

The government of the United States is a government of the people, by the people, and for the people. In a republic, the people in government are elected by the citizens to represent them.

Political parties

Figure 35. Political parties are sometimes identified by symbols. The donkey is the symbol of the Democratic Party. The elephant is the symbol of the Republican Party. (SHSND-ND Studies)

Most elections involve politics. In this context, politics refers to the method by which groups make decisions about government. Both national and state politics are generally influenced by political (pol-It-ik-al) parties.

A political party is an organization, or group of people, who tries to get its candidates elected to public office. A candidate is a person who is running for office (trying to get elected).

The two major political parties in this country are the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Some people call themselves Republicans, while other people call themselves Democrats. If they want to switch their loyalty to the other party, they are free to do so at any time. There are also other, much smaller, political parties called “third parties.”

The Republican Party is nicknamed the “Grand Old Party” or GOP. The symbol of the Republican Party is an elephant. The Democratic Party is the oldest political party in the United States. Its symbol is a donkey.

People who don’t want to be associated with any political party call themselves independents. Independents may sometimes vote for Republican candidates, sometimes for Democratic candidates, and sometimes for “third party” candidates.

Certain state offices are nonpartisan, or no-party, which means that political parties are not involved in the election of these officials. Examples include the Superintendent of Public Instruction and all judges.

These North Dakotans

Figure 36. These North Dakotans are practicing good citizenship by voting on election day. (ND Association of Counties)