What does the term "party realignment" mean?


Party realignment, in its most simplest terms, is the reorganization of the dominant political parties. Party realignment often also involves the formation of new factions within the parties. It may also result in the dissolution of one or more parties.

The dominant parties of the United States have not always been the Democratic and Republican Parties. Throughout the history of the country, there have been several political realignments of parties. One key example of political alignment is the rise and fall of the Whig party. The Whig party was a spinoff of the early Republican Party. It was formed in direct opposition to Andrew Jackson, who was a Democrat. The Whig party rose to power in the middle of the 19th century. Abraham Lincoln was a Whig during the early years of his political career. The Civil War literally divided the Whig party again, and it lost much of its power. The two sides of the party could never reconcile, and the northern Whigs eventually integrated with the Republican Party. The resulting political realignment was the two-party system of democrats and republicans that the country still has. During the depression of the 1930s, there was another political realignment when African-Americans, who had largely sided with the Republican Party in previous elections, shifted their allegiance to the Democratic Party in response to Roosevelt's New Deal.

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