​Political Party Roles and Responsibilities

​Lesson 6

"Why would they want to do that?" Students will be able to identify the "key" platforms and ideologies of the major political parties. As groups, your students will develop a party platform, create campaign literature and campaign for the most viable third party.


Two 55-minute class periods


Students will be able to identify the “key” platforms and ideologies of the major political parties.

Oregon Standards

HS.30: Analyze the roles and activities of political parties, interest groups and mass media and how they affect the beliefs and behaviors of local, state, and national constituencies.
HS.57: Define, research, and explain an event, issue, problem, or phenomenon and its significance to society.
HS.59: Demonstrate the skills and dispositions needed to be a critical consumer of information.
HS.63: Engage in informed and respectful deliberation and discussion of issues, events, and ideas.

Oregon Common Core State Standards

Reading Standards for Literacy in History/Social Studies
1: Read closely to determine what the text says explicitly and to make logical inferences from it; cite specific textual evidence when writing or speaking to support conclusions drawn from the text.
8:Delineate and evaluate the argument and specific claims in a text, including the validity of the reasoning as well as the relevance and sufficiency of the evidence.

NCSS Standards

Theme V: Individuals, Groups, and Institutions


  1. Teacher background handout Lesson 6
  2. Political Typology Quiz (Pew Research Center): http://people-press.org/typology/quiz/?src=typology-report
  3. “Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology” (article): http://people-press.org/2011/05/04/beyond-red-vs-blue-the-political-typology/?src=typology-quiz
  4. Democratic National Committee: https://www.democrats.org/
  5. Republican National Committee: https://www.gop.com/
  6. CIA: The World Factbook: ​www.cia.gov/the-world-factbook/​
  7. On this site, information on countries around the world can be accessed to answer the extension activity questions.


  1. Students go to link to determine political ideology: http://people-press.org/typology/quiz/?src=typology-report
  2. Read the first page of “Beyond Red vs. Blue: The Political Typology” (http://people-press.org/2011/05/04/beyond-red-vs-blue-the-political-typology/?src=typology-quiz) and discuss whether they agree with their own typology based upon the quiz and article.
  3. Compare/contrast: Students create tables comparing the current platforms of the Democratic and Republican parties. (Go to Democratic National Committee and Republican National Committee websites to get information.) Identify specific issues in the tables such as taxes, abortion, marriage, military spending, health care, social security, immigration reform, environment, etc. After students finish tables, create a class table merging the results. Finish with a class discussion on each party’s general platform. (optional) students add a column to the tables that identifies their own stand on each issue and determine which party they most closely match.
  4. Group project: Each group functions as a third party for the next presidential election and will develop a party platform. Each group decides which type of party they will develop (single-issue, ideological, or splinter – for definitions see teacher background handout). They will then choose from following tasks: create a party website, design a party symbol, create a campaign poster, write a campaign speech, create a bumper sticker, or design a campaign button. Groups present their new party to the class and class then votes for the party they think best represent the most viable third party. Finish with a class discussion of why that party won.

Extension Activities

Students create a table outlining other nations’ systems of government. Use the following headings for the tale: Country, Form of Government, Type of Political Party System, Name of Political Party(ies). Fill in table with appropriate information (i.e. democracy). Compare other countries’ governments and political party systems with those of the USA.

Teacher Background Handout

Groups and their general party affiliation according to studies by political scientists:

  1. Democrats: African-Americans, Latinos, Women, Liberals, Union workers, Urban, Environmentalists, Jewish, Northeast, Catholic
  2. Republicans: Wealthy, Business owners, Protestants, Conservatives, White men, College educated, Rural, Appalachia, Church-goers


  1. Liberal: Support the use of the federal government to rectify the problems in our society, whether unemployment, discrimination, homelessness, poverty, child nutrition programs, more public transportation or a host of other issues. Tend to support progressive taxes where rich pay more than the poor as a percentage of their income.
  2. Moderate: Embrace change in moderation.
  3. Conservative: Generally want to preserve the status quo and keep things the way they currently are. Generally opposed to any government intervention in the free market and believe that government interference in health care or banking would make things much worse.
  4. Single-issue group: Political support is focused based on one policy issue (i.e. gun rights, abortion rights, etc.).
  5. Ideological group: A group that forms uniform sentiments, attitudes, and ideas.
  6. Splinter group: A number of members of an organization (i.e. political party) who break away from the main body and form an independent association, often due to some type of dissension.