A state is a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a certain. 5 days ago State Politics news and opinions from The Miami Herald newspaper in South Florida. Welcome to the portal for Ballotpedia's coverage of state politics! Our work covers executive officials, legislative chambers, judiciaries, and ballot measures.
The town meeting, which has existed for more than three centuries in some places, is often cited as the purest form of direct democracy , in which the governmental power is not delegated, but is exercised directly and regularly by all the people.
Successful participation, especially in federal elections, requires large amounts of money, especially for television advertising. Both parties generally depend on wealthy donors and organizations—traditionally the Democrats depended on donations from organized labor while the Republicans relied on business donations. Opponents of campaign finance laws cite the First Amendment 's guarantee of free speech, and challenge campaign finance laws because they attempt to circumvent the people's constitutionally guaranteed rights.
Even when laws are upheld, the complication of compliance with the First Amendment requires careful and cautious drafting of legislation, leading to laws that are still fairly limited in scope, especially in comparison to those of other countries such as the United Kingdom , France or Canada. Fundraising plays a large role in getting a candidate elected to public office. Without money, a candidate may have little chance of achieving their goal.
Attempts to limit the influence of money on American political campaigns dates back to the s. Recently, Congress passed legislation requiring candidates to disclose sources of campaign contributions, how the campaign money is spent, and regulated use of "soft money" contributions. The United States Constitution does not mention political parties, primarily because the Founding Fathers did not intend for American politics to be partisan.
In Federalist Papers No. In addition, the first President of the United States , George Washington , was not a member of any political party at the time of his election or during his tenure as president. Washington hoped that political parties would not be formed, fearing conflict and stagnation. Hamilton and Madison ended up being the core leaders in this emerging party system. In modern times, in partisan elections, candidates are nominated by a political party or seek public office as an independent.
Each state has significant discretion in deciding how candidates are nominated, and thus eligible to appear on the election ballot. Typically, major party candidates are formally chosen in a party primary or convention, whereas minor party and Independents are required to complete a petitioning process. The modern political party system in the United States is a two-party system dominated by the Democratic Party and the Republican Party.
These two parties have won every United States presidential election since and have controlled the United States Congress since The Democratic Party generally positions itself as left-of-center in American politics and supports a modern American liberal platform, while the Republican Party generally positions itself as right-wing and supports a modern American conservative platform.
Third parties and independent voters have achieved relatively minor representation from time to time at local levels. The Libertarian Party is the largest third party in the country, claiming more than , registered voters in ;  it generally positions itself as centrist or radical centrist and supports a classical liberal position. Other contemporary third parties include the left-wing Green Party , supporting Green politics , and the right-wing Constitution Party , supporting paleoconservatism.
Unlike in some parliamentary systems , Americans vote for a specific candidate instead of directly selecting a particular political party. With a federal government, officials are elected at the federal national , state and local levels. On a national level, the President , is elected indirectly by the people, through an Electoral College.
In modern times, the electors virtually always vote with the popular vote of their state. All members of Congress , and the offices at the state and local levels are directly elected.
Various federal and state laws regulate elections. The United States Constitution defines to a basic extent how federal elections are held, in Article One and Article Two and various amendments. State law regulates most aspects of electoral law, including primaries, the eligibility of voters beyond the basic constitutional definition , the running of each state's electoral college, and the running of state and local elections.
American political parties are more loosely organized than those in other countries. The two major parties, in particular, have no formal organization at the national level that controls membership, activities, or policy positions, though some state affiliates do. Thus, for an American to say that he or she is a member of the Democratic or Republican party, is quite different from a Briton's stating that he or she is a member of the Conservative or Labour party.
In the United States, one can often become a "member" of a party, merely by stating that fact. Such participation does not restrict one's choices in any way. It also does not give a person any particular rights or obligations within the party, other than possibly allowing that person to vote in that party's primary elections. A person may choose to attend meetings of one local party committee one day and another party committee the next day.
The sole factor that brings one "closer to the action" is the quantity and quality of participation in party activities and the ability to persuade others in attendance to give one responsibility.
Party identification becomes somewhat formalized when a person runs for partisan office. In most states, this means declaring oneself a candidate for the nomination of a particular party and intent to enter that party's primary election for an office. A party committee may choose to endorse one or another of those who is seeking the nomination, but in the end the choice is up to those who choose to vote in the primary, and it is often difficult to tell who is going to do the voting.
The result is that American political parties have weak central organizations and little central ideology, except by consensus. A party really cannot prevent a person who disagrees with the majority of positions of the party or actively works against the party's aims from claiming party membership, so long as the voters who choose to vote in the primary elections elect that person. Once in office, an elected official may change parties simply by declaring such intent.
An elected official once in office may also act contradictory to many of his or her party's positions this had led to terms such as " Republican In Name Only ". At the federal level, each of the two major parties has a national committee See, Democratic National Committee , Republican National Committee that acts as the hub for much fund-raising and campaign activities, particularly in presidential campaigns. The exact composition of these committees is different for each party, but they are made up primarily of representatives from state parties and affiliated organizations, and others important to the party.
However, the national committees do not have the power to direct the activities of members of the party. Both parties also have separate campaign committees which work to elect candidates at a specific level. The most significant of these are the Hill committees , which work to elect candidates to each house of Congress.
State parties exist in all fifty states, though their structures differ according to state law, as well as party rules at both the national and the state level. Despite these weak organizations, elections are still usually portrayed as national races between the political parties.
In what is known as " presidential coattails ", candidates in presidential elections become the de facto leader of their respective party, and thus usually bring out supporters who in turn then vote for his party's candidates for other offices. On the other hand, federal midterm elections where only Congress and not the president is up for election are usually regarded as a referendum on the sitting president's performance, with voters either voting in or out the president's party's candidates, which in turn helps the next session of Congress to either pass or block the president's agenda, respectively.
Most of the Founding Fathers rejected political parties as divisive and disruptive. By the s, however, most joined one of the two new parties, and by the s parties had become accepted as central to the democracy.
Men who held opposing views strengthened their cause by identifying and organizing men of like mind. The followers of Alexander Hamilton , were called " Federalists "; they favored a strong central government that would support the interests of national defense, commerce and industry.
The followers of Thomas Jefferson , the Jeffersonians took up the name " Republicans "; they preferred a decentralized agrarian republic in which the federal government had limited power. By , the First Party System had collapsed. Two new parties emerged from the remnants of the Jeffersonian Democracy , forming the Second Party System with the Whigs , brought to life in opposition to President Andrew Jackson and his new Democratic Party.
The forces of Jacksonian Democracy , based among urban workers, Southern poor whites, and western farmers, dominated the era. In the s, the issue of slavery took center stage, with disagreement in particular over the question of whether slavery should be permitted in the country's new territories in the West.
The Whig Party straddled the issue and sank to its death after the overwhelming electoral defeat by Franklin Pierce in the presidential election.
While the Know Nothing party was short-lived, Republicans would survive the intense politics leading up to the Civil War. The primary Republican policy was that slavery be excluded from all the territories. Just six years later, this new party captured the presidency when Abraham Lincoln won the election of By then, parties were well established as the country's dominant political organizations, and party allegiance had become an important part of most people's consciousness.
Party loyalty was passed from fathers to sons, and party activities, including spectacular campaign events, complete with uniformed marching groups and torchlight parades, were a part of the social life of many communities. By the s, however, this boisterous folksiness had diminished. Municipal reforms, civil service reform, corrupt practices acts, and presidential primaries to replace the power of politicians at national conventions had all helped to clean up politics.
Since the s, the country has been run by two major parties, beginning with the Federalist vs. At present, the Libertarian Party is the most successful third party. New York State has a number of additional third parties, who sometimes run their own candidates for office and sometimes nominate the nominees of the two main parties. Most officials in America are elected from single-member districts and win office by beating out their opponents in a system for determining winners called first-past-the-post ; the one who gets the plurality wins, which is not the same thing as actually getting a majority of votes.
This encourages the two-party system ; see Duverger's law. In the absence of multi-seat congressional districts, proportional representation is impossible and third parties cannot thrive. Although elections to the Senate elect two senators per constituency state , staggered terms effectively result in single-seat constituencies for elections to the Senate. Another critical factor has been ballot access law. Originally, voters went to the polls and publicly stated which candidate they supported.
Later on, this developed into a process whereby each political party would create its own ballot and thus the voter would put the party's ballot into the voting box. In the late nineteenth century, states began to adopt the Australian Secret Ballot Method , and it eventually became the national standard. The secret ballot method ensured that the privacy of voters would be protected hence government jobs could no longer be awarded to loyal voters and each state would be responsible for creating one official ballot.
The fact that state legislatures were dominated by Democrats and Republicans provided these parties an opportunity to pass discriminatory laws against minor political parties, yet such laws did not start to arise until the first Red Scare that hit America after World War I. State legislatures began to enact tough laws that made it harder for minor political parties to run candidates for office by requiring a high number of petition signatures from citizens and decreasing the length of time that such a petition could legally be circulated.
It should also be noted that while more often than not, party members will "toe the line" and support their party's policies, they are free to vote against their own party and vote with the opposition "cross the aisle" when they please. Polsby , professor of political science, in the book New Federalist Papers: Essays in Defense of the Constitution. Variations sometimes subtle, sometimes blatant in the 50 political cultures of the states yield considerable differences overall in what it means to be, or to vote, Democratic or Republican.
These differences suggest that one may be justified in referring to the American two-party system as masking something more like a hundred-party system. The United States has a long tradition of gerrymandering. In some states, bipartisan gerrymandering is the norm.
State legislators from both parties sometimes agree to draw congressional district boundaries in a way that ensures the re-election of most or all incumbent representatives from both parties. Rather than allowing more political influence, some states have shifted redistricting authority from politicians and given it to non-partisan redistricting commissions.
The states of Washington,  Arizona,  and California's Proposition 11 and Proposition 20 have created standing committees for redistricting following the census. Rhode Island  and New Jersey have developed ad hoc committees, but developed the past two decennial reapportionments tied to new census data.
Florida's amendments 5 and 6, meanwhile, established rules for the creation of districts but did not mandate an independent commission. International election observers from the Organization for Security and Co-operation in Europe Office for Democratic Institutions and Human Rights, who were invited to observe and report on the national elections , expressed criticism of the U. Special interest groups advocate the cause of their specific constituency. Business organizations will favor low corporate taxes and restrictions of the right to strike, whereas labor unions will support minimum wage legislation and protection for collective bargaining.
Other private interest groups, such as churches and ethnic groups, are more concerned about broader issues of policy that can affect their organizations or their beliefs. One type of private interest group that has grown in number and influence in recent years is the political action committee or PAC.
These are independent groups, organized around a single issue or set of issues, which contribute money to political campaigns for U. Congress or the presidency. PACs are limited in the amounts they can contribute directly to candidates in federal elections. There are no restrictions, however, on the amounts PACs can spend independently to advocate a point of view or to urge the election of candidates to office.
A History of American Civic Life. A statue of Gen. Lee, as it was removed from its longtime resting place in New Orleans on Friday. Lee's statue was the last of four Confederate monuments to be removed under a City Council vote.
He took it back on Monday. The next generation of cell phone technology will be much faster but require far more antennas than carriers currently use. Spectators look down on the Nevada Assembly on the opening day of the legislative session in Carson City, Nev. But the state has given the amendment's supporters new reason to hope.
A police officer votes at Belmont High School on Feb. The state's lawmakers are now debating bills that would tighten residency requirements for new voters. Eric Greitens, shortly before becoming governor of Missouri in January Gas prices seen at an Oklahoma City 7-Eleven in December. Amid a state budget slump, Oklahoma lawmakers are considering raising gas taxes for the first time in 30 years.
Oklahoma is one of about a dozen states seriously considering increases. A state is a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly on the legitimate use of force within a certain geographical territory.
Some states are sovereign , other states are subject to external sovereignty or hegemony , where supreme authority lies in another state. Speakers of American English often use the terms "state" and "government" as synonyms , with both words referring to an organized political group that exercises authority over a particular territory.
In British and Commonwealth English , "state" is the only term that has that meaning, while "the government" instead refers to the ministers and officials who set the political policy for the territory. Many human societies have been governed by states for millennia; however, for most of pre-history people lived in stateless societies.
The first states arose about 5, years ago in conjunction with rapid growth of cities, invention of writing, and codification of new forms of religion.
Over time, a variety of different forms developed, employing a variety of justifications for their existence such as divine right , the theory of the social contract , etc. Today, the modern nation-state is the predominant form of state to which people are subject. The English noun state in the generic sense "condition, circumstances" predates the political sense.
It is introduced to Middle English c. With the revival of the Roman law in 14th-century Europe, the term came to refer to the legal standing of persons such as the various " estates of the realm " — noble, common, and clerical , and in particular the special status of the king. The highest estates, generally those with the most wealth and social rank, were those that held power. The word also had associations with Roman ideas dating back to Cicero about the " status rei publicae ", the "condition of public matters".
In time, the word lost its reference to particular social groups and became associated with the legal order of the entire society and the apparatus of its enforcement.
The early 16th-century works of Machiavelli especially The Prince played a central role in popularizing the use of the word "state" in something similar to its modern sense. The North American colonies were called "states" as early as the s. There is no academic consensus on the most appropriate definition of the state. Means-related definitions include those by Max Weber and Charles Tilly, both of whom define the state according to its violent means. Ends-related definitions emphasis instead the teleological aims and purposes of the state.
Marxist thought regards the ends of the state as being the perpetuation of class domination in favour of the ruling class which, under the capitalist mode of production, is the bourgeoisie. Indeed, Marx claimed that "the executive of the modern state is nothing but a committee for managing the common affairs of the whole bourgeoisie" Communist Manifesto.
Liberal thought provides another possible teleology of the state. The most commonly used definition is Max Weber 's,      which describes the state as a compulsory political organization with a centralized government that maintains a monopoly of the legitimate use of force within a certain territory.
Another commonly accepted definition of the state is the one given at the Montevideo Convention on Rights and Duties of States in It provides that "[t]he state as a person of international law should possess the following qualifications: According to the Oxford English Dictionary , a state is " a. Confounding the definition problem is that "state" and "government" are often used as synonyms in common conversation and even some academic discourse. According to this definition schema, the states are nonphysical persons of international law , governments are organizations of people.
States may be classified by Political philosophers as sovereign if they are not dependent on, or subject to any other power or state. Other states are subject to external sovereignty or hegemony where ultimate sovereignty lies in another state. A federated state is a territorial and constitutional community forming part of a federation.
Such states differ from sovereign states in that they have transferred a portion of their sovereign powers to a federal government. One can commonly and sometimes readily but not necessarily usefully classify states according to their apparent make-up or focus. The concept of the nation-state, theoretically or ideally co-terminous with a "nation", became very popular by the 20th century in Europe, but occurred rarely elsewhere or at other times.
In contrast, some states have sought to make a virtue of their multi-ethnic or multi-national character Hapsburg Austria-Hungary , for example, or the Soviet Union , and have emphasised unifying characteristics such as autocracy , monarchical legitimacy , or ideology.
Imperial states have sometimes promoted notions of racial superiority. The concept of temple states centred on religious shrines occurs in some discussions of the ancient world. To some extent, urban secession , the creation of a new city-state sovereign or federated , continues to be discussed in the early 21st century in cities such as London. A state can be distinguished from a government.
The government is the particular group of people, the administrative bureaucracy that controls the state apparatus at a given time. States are served by a continuous succession of different governments. Each successive government is composed of a specialized and privileged body of individuals, who monopolize political decision-making, and are separated by status and organization from the population as a whole. States can also be distinguished from the concept of a " nation ", where "nation" refers to a cultural-political community of people.
A nation-state refers to a situation where a single ethnicity is associated with a specific state. In the classical thought, the state was identified with both political society and civil society as a form of political community, while the modern thought distinguished the nation state as a political society from civil society as a form of economic society.
Antonio Gramsci believed that civil society is the primary locus of political activity because it is where all forms of "identity formation, ideological struggle, the activities of intellectuals, and the construction of hegemony take place. Arising out of the collective actions of civil society is what Gramsci calls "political society", which Gramsci differentiates from the notion of the state as a polity.
He stated that politics was not a "one-way process of political management" but, rather, that the activities of civil organizations conditioned the activities of political parties and state institutions, and were conditioned by them in turn. Given the role that many social groups have in the development of public policy and the extensive connections between state bureaucracies and other institutions, it has become increasingly difficult to identify the boundaries of the state.
Privatization , nationalization , and the creation of new regulatory bodies also change the boundaries of the state in relation to society.
Often the nature of quasi-autonomous organizations is unclear, generating debate among political scientists on whether they are part of the state or civil society. Some political scientists thus prefer to speak of policy networks and decentralized governance in modern societies rather than of state bureaucracies and direct state control over policy. Most political theories of the state can roughly be classified into two categories.
The first are known as "liberal" or "conservative" theories, which treat capitalism as a given, and then concentrate on the function of states in capitalist society. These theories tend to see the state as a neutral entity separated from society and the economy. Marxist and anarchist theories on the other hand, see politics as intimately tied in with economic relations, and emphasize the relation between economic power and political power.
They see the state as a partisan instrument that primarily serves the interests of the upper class. Anarchism is a political philosophy which considers the state immoral , unnecessary, and harmful and instead promotes a stateless society , or anarchy. Anarchists believe that the state is inherently an instrument of domination and repression, no matter who is in control of it. Anarchists note that the state possesses the monopoly on the legal use of violence.
Unlike Marxists, anarchists believe that revolutionary seizure of state power should not be a political goal. They believe instead that the state apparatus should be completely dismantled, and an alternative set of social relations created, which are not based on state power at all.
Various Christian anarchists , such as Jacques Ellul , have identified the State and political power as the Beast in the Book of Revelation. Marx and Engels were clear in that the communist goal was a classless society in which the state would have " withered away ", replaced only by "administration of things". To the extent that it makes sense , there is no single "Marxist theory of state", but rather several different purportedly "Marxist" theories have been developed by adherents of Marxism.
Marx's early writings portrayed the bourgeois state as parasitic, built upon the superstructure of the economy , and working against the public interest. He also wrote that the state mirrors class relations in society in general, acting as a regulator and repressor of class struggle, and as a tool of political power and domination for the ruling class.
For Marxist theorists, the role of the non-proletarian state is determined by its function in the global capitalist order. Ralph Miliband argued that the ruling class uses the state as its instrument to dominate society by virtue of the interpersonal ties between state officials and economic elites.
For Miliband, the state is dominated by an elite that comes from the same background as the capitalist class. State officials therefore share the same interests as owners of capital and are linked to them through a wide array of social, economic, and political ties. Gramsci's theories of state emphasized that the state is only one of the institutions in society that helps maintain the hegemony of the ruling class, and that state power is bolstered by the ideological domination of the institutions of civil society, such as churches, schools, and mass media.
Pluralists view society as a collection of individuals and groups, who are competing for political power. They then view the state as a neutral body that simply enacts the will of whichever groups dominate the electoral process. With power competitively arranged in society, state policy is a product of recurrent bargaining. Although pluralism recognizes the existence of inequality, it asserts that all groups have an opportunity to pressure the state. The pluralist approach suggests that the modern democratic state's actions are the result of pressures applied by a variety of organized interests.
Dahl called this kind of state a polyarchy. Pluralism has been challenged on the ground that it is not supported by empirical evidence. Citing surveys showing that the large majority of people in high leadership positions are members of the wealthy upper class, critics of pluralism claim that the state serves the interests of the upper class rather than equitably serving the interests of all social groups.
Because of the way these activities structure the economic framework, Habermas felt that the state cannot be looked at as passively responding to economic class interests.
Michel Foucault believed that modern political theory was too state-centric, saying "Maybe, after all, the state is no more than a composite reality and a mythologized abstraction, whose importance is a lot more limited than many of us think. In Foucault's opinion, the state had no essence. He believed that instead of trying to understand the activities of governments by analyzing the properties of the state a reified abstraction , political theorists should be examining changes in the practice of government to understand changes in the nature of the state.
Every single scientific technological advance has come to the service of the state Foucault argues and it is with the emergence of the Mathematical sciences and essentially the formation of Mathematical statistics that one gets an understanding of the complex technology of producing how the modern state was so successfully created. Foucault insists that the Nation state was not a historical accident but a deliberate production in which the modern state had to now manage coincidentally with the emerging practice of the Police Cameral science 'allowing' the population to now 'come in' into jus gentium and civitas Civil society after deliberately being excluded for several millennia.
Where these political symbol agents, represented by the pope and the president are now democratised. Foucault calls these new forms of technology Biopower    and form part of our political inheritance which he calls Biopolitics.
Heavily influenced by Gramsci, Nicos Poulantzas , a Greek neo-Marxist theorist argued that capitalist states do not always act on behalf of the ruling class, and when they do, it is not necessarily the case because state officials consciously strive to do so, but because the ' structural ' position of the state is configured in such a way to ensure that the long-term interests of capital are always dominant.
Poulantzas' main contribution to the Marxist literature on the state was the concept of 'relative autonomy' of the state. While Poulantzas' work on 'state autonomy' has served to sharpen and specify a great deal of Marxist literature on the state, his own framework came under criticism for its ' structural functionalism '. State autonomy theorists believe that the state is an entity that is impervious to external social and economic influence, and has interests of its own.
In other words, state personnel have interests of their own, which they can and do pursue independently of at times in conflict with actors in society. Since the state controls the means of coercion, and given the dependence of many groups in civil society on the state for achieving any goals they may espouse, state personnel can to some extent impose their own preferences on civil society.
States generally rely on a claim to some form of political legitimacy in order to maintain domination over their subjects. The rise of the modern day state system was closely related to changes in political thought, especially concerning the changing understanding of legitimate state power and control.
Early modern defenders of absolutism Absolute monarchy , such as Thomas Hobbes and Jean Bodin undermined the doctrine of the divine right of kings by arguing that the power of kings should be justified by reference to the people. Hobbes in particular went further to argue that political power should be justified with reference to the individual Hobbes wrote in the time of the English Civil war , not just to the people understood collectively.
Both Hobbes and Bodin thought they were defending the power of kings, not advocating for democracy, but their arguments about the nature of sovereignty were fiercely resisted by more traditional defenders of the power of kings, such as Sir Robert Filmer in England, who thought that such defenses ultimately opened the way to more democratic claims.
Max Weber identified three main sources of political legitimacy in his works. The first, legitimacy based on traditional grounds is derived from a belief that things should be as they have been in the past, and that those who defend these traditions have a legitimate claim to power. The second, legitimacy based on charismatic leadership is devotion to a leader or group that is viewed as exceptionally heroic or virtuous.
State Politics news from The State in Columbia SC newspaper in the midlands. 3 days ago State Politics news from the Raleigh News & Observer newspaper in The Triangle. Latest State Politics and State Government News from Australia, Read State Government Politics News from NSW, Vic, Qld, WA, SA, TAS and NT on The.