THE 2016 PRESIDENTIAL ELECTIONS MAY STILL BE OVER A YEAR AWAY, BUT CANDIDATES ARE COMING OUT OF THE LEFT, RIGHT, TOP AND BOTTOM. YOU PROBABLY KNOW THE REPUBLICAN AND DEMOCRAT BASICS, BUT IN CASE THIS WILL BE YOUR FIRST TIME VOTING IN A PRESIDENTIAL ELECTION, HERE ARE SOME FACTS ABOUT AMERICA’S HISTORY OF POLITICAL PARTIES YOU PROBABLY DIDN’T KNOW.
11. Ole George didn’t have to choose
As the first president of the United States, George Washington was the only president to never declare a party affiliation because they didn’t exist when he was elected into office. We wonder which way he would lean if he were alive today.
10. The Democrats are the oldest
What we know today as the Democratic Party started as the Democratic-Republicans in 1791. The former presidents that affiliated under this party include Thomas Jefferson, James Madison, James Monroe and John Quincy Adams. Eventually the party changed its name to simply the Democratic Party.
9. There has been a political party for almost everything
America has seen all types of persistent political parties, including the Surprise Party, launched by comedians Stephen Colbert and Gracie Allen; the American Vegetarian Party, which came after meat shortages from World War II; the Unites States Pirate Party to prevent online censorship; and the Boston Tea Party, in favor of worldwide military withdrawal, legalized marijuana, and ending legalized government surveillance.
8. But the two-party system has dominated
The Democratic or Republican parties have won every presidential election since 1852. Better luck next time, American Vegetarians.
7. The elephant and donkey came from criticism and political cartoons
During the 1828 campaign, Democrat Andrew Jackson was a candidate who was often referred to as a “jackass” by his competition. Humored, Jackson incorporated the donkey in his campaign to represent his stubbornness against opponents. In 1864, an elephant was shown in a political cartoon celebrating Union victories. The elephant was then continuously used by political cartoonists to represent Republicans.
6. The main two aren’t the only ones with significant backing
A fairly young political party, the Green Party was founded in 1991 and rests in 36 states and Washington D.C. The Libertarian Party is represented in 48 states and Washington D.C. and was founded in 1971.
5. The cost of major party conventions has increased by millions over the years
The conventions are funded by the Presidential Election Campaign Fund and in 1976 the grants given to the parties for a convention were about $2.2 million. By 2008, the Democrat and Republican parties were each given $16.4 million for the cost of their conventions.
4. Green isn’t so clean
The Green Party received a lot of positive and negative attention in the 2000 presidential election when Ralph Nader ran under this party’s name. Being an advocate for consumer rights, Nader started off strong by raising millions and national headlines for his message. But all good things must come to an end after you are accused of siphoning important votes. Today, the party is strong and continues to have candidates in local, state and federal offices.
3. GOP is a grand old nickname
The Republican Party is also referred to as the Grand Old Party (GOP) because in 1888, when the Republican Party won presidency after having a Democratic president, the Chicago Tribune started, “Let us be thankful that under the rule of the Grand Old Party… these United States will resume the onward and upward march which the election of Grover Cleveland in 1884 partially arrested.”
2. Obama was the first Democratic candidate to sway college-educated voters
During the 2008 election, voters made history in more than one way. In addition to being the first African-American president, Obama was the first Democratic candidate to receive more votes from college-educated voters than the opposing Republican candidate.
1. College students believe the US needs a third major political party
In 2012, a study conducted by Hart Research Associates found that 52 percent of college students think the two-party system is not working and that the country needs a third party.