Chapter 10 – The Party System in Texas

In this chapter you are reading about political parties. Although I am sure everyone has heard the term “political party,” I think you will still learn a lot in reading this chapter.

For your post on this chapter, write about what sort of party you would form if you were to form a political party. Determine what your characteristics will be and define your party platform. We live in Texas so you are forming this party in Texas. That said, all parties start somewhere so your goal may be to keep your party focused on Texas issues and effect change here or you can start it here and your goal may be to take it to a national level. It is up to you but you are starting it here in Texas. Will you form a single issue political party here because you feel so strongly about one issue you think it warrants a political party to address it? If so, what is your issue and fully explain it and what your party will do “for” the issue. Or will you form a political party that takes a stand on more than one issue or many issues. If so, explain that to us.

Some Things to Think About When Forming Your Party:

· What is a political party?

· Four major functions of political parties:

· Nominating candidates to office

· Structuring the voting choice in elections

· Proposing alternative government programs

· Coordinating the actions of government officials

· Will you form a large party that takes a stand on many issues or will you form a small party that has one issue that is meaningful to them?

· Large parties like the Democratic Party and the Republican Party have platforms that encompass major issues – in Texas members of larger parties have platforms that address, at least, the following – see page 106 in your book for examples of the Texas Democratic and Republican Party Platforms:

· Stronger states’ rights vs. stronger national rights

· Education

· Taxes – should taxes be more or less – should you put higher taxes on things like cigarettes and alcohol and lower taxes on food?

· Abortion

· Death Penalty

· Immigration

· Citizenship

· Minimum Wage

· Healthcare

· Smaller parties may take on one major issue like the following and hope to gain momentum in a certain issue area. Remember that smaller parties can actually impact major change – smaller parties may not survive themselves “forever” but they can make the larger parties have to contend with the issue they bring to the forefront of voters’ minds. For example:

· A party that is totally focused on the environment.

· A party for the Animals (gained 2 seats in the Dutch Parliament in 2006).

· A party totally focused on immigration and has platform for how to fix it.

· A party totally focused on healthcare for all people and a plan on how to get it.

· A farmer/labor party where the goal is to promote the interest of farmers and growers.

· A “splinter party” that splinters off from a larger party because you disagree with an issue – i.e. you identify with the democrats but really want to be pro-life so you have democratic party ideals but are pro-life.

· EXAMPLE of a party that started on a grassroots level and has grown much larger: Green Party

· Example of a small party that started small and is growing in momentum.

· Grassroots parties that are created in classrooms just like this can gain momentum and grow and change the way people think and vote.

· Started in Denver, Colorado, in 2000.

· Focus overall on the environment, social justice, human rights, peace.

· Here is their platform now – taken from their website Visit the website if you want more details on each of their “10 Key Values” below:










10. FUTURE FOCUS AND SUSTAINABILITYChapter 11 – Elections, Campaigns, and Voting in TexasIn this chapter you are reading about voting and elections in Texas. There is a lot of valuable information in this chapter about our election system and how it works. A discussion on voting and elections is not complete without forming an opinion on negative advertising. Some people think negative advertising works and reveals important facts about candidates that they do not want you to know. Some people think negative advertising distracts from the real issues in the campaign and frustrates voters. Form an opinion about negative advertising as you study this chapter and think about it in light of the information you are learning as you read.

For your post on this chapter go to and do a search for “negative campaign ads” and/or “negative political ads” and watch some negative campaign ads. For your post – let us know what you saw and what you thought about it – how do you feel about negative advertising? Would you run a negative ad against your opponent if you were running, do you think they work, do you think they do not work (i.e. makes the person look bad so can “backfire” on the person who runs it), what are your overall thoughts on negative political advertisements.

I know this is a Texas class and you will not only see Texas ads but for purposes of this class I want you to get an idea of the ads that are out there – not just ones in Texas. Keep in mind – you are just seeing a 30 second “blip” of a campaign by watching the ads you watch – but many voters are not well-versed in the candidates and this could have been the only thing they saw – so your impressions of the candidates (both the one who ran the ad AND the candidate the ad is about) are important. In addition to your own research on ads, there are three ads I want you to go to YouTube and make sure you see:

1) The Daisy Ad – this ad is considered to be the most controversial political advertisement ever made. It was run by Presidential incumbent Lyndon Johnson against his opponent Barry Goldwater during the 1964 election. Goldwater was considered a proponent of using nuclear weapons and the Johnson campaign wanted to capitalize on that and the people in America disagreed with it. Make sure you watch this ad and see what you think about it.

2) Go to YouTube and type “Wendy Davis Wheelchair Ad” – this ad was considered by most political scientists to be the most controversial political advertisement shown in the last Texas gubernatorial race.

3) Go to YouTube and type in “Joni Earnst Squeal ad” – this is really a negative ad but a political ad you might find funny!

Chapter 12 – The Mass Media in Texas Politics

As you read this chapter, think about the different forms of media (print, broadcast, social), how your government uses the media to communicate with you, how you use the media to communicate with your government, how politicians use the media in their campaigns and once they are in office, and the benefits and pitfalls of the media.

For your post on this chapter, tell us how you would most effectively use each form of media if you were running for Texas Governor. Fully explain what you could do to reach your potential voters and how you could utilize the media. As you write your posts, read your classmates’ posts, and write your response to another classmates’ post, think about how the government and politicians use the media and the influence the media has on your viewpoints and opinions.

Chapter 13 – Interest Groups and Political Power in Texas

In this chapter you read about interest groups. Interest groups and lobbies are the same thing and you can use those words interchangeably. A lobby / interest group of people that join together that have common interests and seek to influence the government.

For example – most people are familiar with The National Rifle Association (NRA). The NRA is an interest group that promotes ideals relating to gun usage and gun ownership (among other themes). People who are interested in those themes can join the NRA and the NRA takes that money and hires lobbyists to promote the themes they want to promote to the government – i.e. promoting legislation that will promote gun ownership and laws or working to defeat legislation that will go against the themes they want to promote.

For your post on this chapter, tell us what kind of interest group you would form if you formed an interest group in Texas. Think about what kind of issues you think are important in Texas and what kind of interest group(s) you would join and what kinds of issues you would like to see addressed in Texas. Tell us who you think would join your interest group, what the issues would be your group would address, and what kind of legislation you would like to see passed and/or not passed that would impact your group. If you would like some ideas of the kinds of interest groups that are available on a national and local level go to The Project Vote Smart website ( and scroll to the bottom and click on interest groups and you will be able to explore national and state interest groups.

REMEMBER – you get more points for posting early AND for the more times you post responses! Read your classmates’ posts about the interest groups they would form, thoughtfully respond to those posts re what you think about them (do you like the group or dislike the group and why), you will learn, we will all learn from your response, and you will get extra points!

Chapter 14 – Contemporary Public Policy Issues in Texas

You are almost finished with this class! Thank you for your hard work!

As you read this chapter, think about what you think is the most important public policy issue discussed in this chapter. Tell us which public policy issue you think is the most important one to solve and why. How do you think it should be solved? Fully explain your answer.