The American Party System: An Introduction to the Study of Political Parties in the United States

By Charles Edward Merriam | Go to book overview

CHAPTER IX
THE PARTY AND SELECTION OF OFFICIAL PERSONNEL--NOMINATING SYSTEMS-- DESCRIPTION AND CRITIQUE

One of the most important functions of the political party is the selection of public servants filling various official positions, either by election or by appointment. In no country are there as many official places, not under some form of merit system, and in no place is so large a part of the time and energy of the party managers and leaders, as well as that of the rank and file of the party, consumed in the task of selecting the personnel of the official service. Accordingly a careful analysis of this process of the party is indispensable to an understanding of the nature and function of the political party.

The subject will be considered here under three main heads: Nominations; Elections; Appointments. Appointments are largely the work of the inner circle of the party organization; in nominations the organization shares its power with the voters of the party or at least submits its results to them after a fashion; and in the electoral process the party must reckon with the entire voting constituency. Yet in all cases the process is one of the choice of the personnel of government largely through the party groupings.

The number of elective offices usually selected upon party lines is very large--approximately 50,000. This list is made up as follows:--

Federal Officers500
State Officers500

-247-

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