All parties in America have a central element and that is their ability to attract thousands of small contributions through mass mailings to likely party supporters, Hershey(75). Hershey then points out that this ability allowed the national party an independent financial base. (75) Then in the 1960s the two parties wanted to increase every aspect of their parties from contributions to finding the most qualified candidates.
The first was the service party path followed first by the RNC. The foundation of this strategy was implemented in the 1960s by RNC chair Ray Bliss and was continued later by chairman Brock until the 1970s as a means to reviving the party post water-gate. (75) There were two keys to success in performing this new service role: money and campaign technology. (76) The republicans used direct-mail appeals that brought in larger levels of income. The example the book provides is that the RNC fund-raising jumped from $29 million to $105.9 million within the next few years.(76) This strategy offered a broad array of services from candidates to local party organizations. State and local party leaders were glad to accept the help since the party worked closely to identify with the business community. A great example of this strategy was the 1980 presidential election. The republicans suffered huge losses in the house and senate after water-gate and eventually cost them the White House. After only four years the republicans were able to take back the White House in the 1980 election largely due to the service party path.
Like the service party the democrats came up with there own plan to grow and expand their parties role in the 1960s. The democrats had a larger problem due to the diversity within their own party. You had reformers supporting the civil rights and opposing American involvement in Vietnam pushing the democratic party to change their view on these issues. This strategy was an effort to more “democratic” in the nominating process and in particular more representative of people like themselves such as: blacks, women, and young people.(76) The 1968 election was the first of the series of reforms which limited the autonomy of state parties and more authority to the national party for reason in my previous sentence. This change was not limited to democrats due to key court decisions that upheld these actions in certain states. State legislatures passed bills that implemented these reforms that applied to all parties within that state. By the 1970s the problems with this strategy became evident with several democrats staying home during conventions for the reason of feeling alienated. A great example would be the elections of 1980. After gaining large majorities in the house and senate the democrats lose control of the senate. Part of this was due to the republicans raising large sums of money and allowing the state parties use it in ways they deem necessary. The other part was have divided the democratic party was over their new Procedural-reform path. Democrats having the White House and both chambers of congress and not accomplishing much didn’t help either. The democratic party eventually adopted the service path.
Its pretty evident to which path worked. The service path allowed the state and local party to have something to say in decisions, while the procedural-reform path put the majority of the decisions in the hands of the national party. Who knows best in state and local elections? Who knows more about the way people think and behave? The people that are there, the people that are closer and on the ground. The service path offered support to local and state elections. The procedural-reform path offered solutions, but what works in one area of the country will not work in another. Todays elections require more money than ever to be raised and the service path proved that it was better at raising money. I believe results speak for themselves, and the democrats adopted their own form of the service party strategy.
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