Terms Glossary

Good Party's Terms Glossary is a list of definitions of words from the political and elections world. These terms are from an independent's perspective with an eye toward reform. If you have a suggestion for a new definition, send it to ask@goodparty.org.

Campaign Contributions

Definition and meaning of campaign contributions: Campaign contributions refer to the financial support given to candidates running for political office. This can come in the form of direct donations, as well as in-kind contributions such as the use of a campaign headquarters or advertising space. While campaign contributions can come from a variety of sources, including individuals, political action committees (PACs), and corporations, they are often seen as a way for wealthy donors to exert influence over political candidates and elections.

In some states and municipalities, there are laws and regulations in place to limit the amount of money that can be donated to political campaigns. For example, in New York City, individuals can only donate up to $2,800 per election to a candidate's campaign, while PACs can donate up to $5,000. Additionally, the city has a matching funds program that matches small donations from city residents with public funds, in an effort to level the playing field for candidates who may not have access to large sums of money.

However, not all states and municipalities have such regulations in place. In states such as Maine and Arizona, there are no limits on campaign contributions and candidates can accept unlimited amounts of money from donors. This can lead to situations where a few wealthy donors can have a disproportionate influence over the outcome of an election.

While campaign contributions can help fund a candidate's campaign, it is important to consider the potential impact they may have on the political process. The lack of regulations and limits in some places may lead to a system that prioritizes the interests of wealthy donors over those of the general public. Therefore, it is essential to consider the need for campaign finance reform in order to ensure fair and transparent political process.

Campaign Finance

Definition and meaning of campaign finance: Campaign finance refers to the money that is raised and spent by candidates, political parties, and other organizations to influence the outcome of an election. This can include everything from campaign contributions to advertising to voter outreach.

Unfortunately, the campaign finance system in the United States is often criticized for being unfair and undemocratic. One of the main problems is that it is heavily influenced by wealthy special interests, who use their financial resources to sway the political process in their favor. This can create a situation where politicians are more accountable to their donors than they are to the voters they represent.

Another issue with campaign finance is that it is often used to exclude independent and third party candidates from the political process. These candidates often struggle to raise the same amount of money as the major party candidates, which makes it difficult for them to get their message out and compete on an equal footing.

It's time for a change! We need campaign finance reform that levels the playing field and allows for a more diverse and representative democracy. This could include measures such as public financing of elections, limits on campaign contributions, and greater transparency in campaign financing. By taking these steps, we can create a more fair and equitable political system that works for everyone, not just the wealthy elite.


Definition and meaning of candidacy: Candidacy is the formal or informal process of declaring intent to run for office in an election. Candidacy is a critical part of democratic processes and allows citizens to express their political views through their choice of candidates. The process of candidacy includes different stages, such as filing for nomination papers, gathering the required number of signatures, and submitting those papers to the relevant election authorities. Candidates also need to make a formal announcement of their candidacy and follow the legal requirements of their jurisdiction. Campaigning activities such as fundraising, advertising, and public appearances are also essential parts of the candidacy process. Candidacy is often a difficult and demanding process, but it is also an important part of any democratic system. It provides an opportunity for citizens to make their voices heard and to make a difference in their communities. It is an essential part of the democratic process and is necessary to ensure that citizens have the opportunity to have their say in the election process.

Candidate Petitions

Definition and meaning of Candidate Petitions: Candidate petitions are a type of political activity where individuals gather signatures to put forward a particular candidate's name to be placed on the ballot for an election. This form of political activity is important in encouraging greater democracy and providing an opportunity for more candidates to participate in the electoral process. It is often used by those seeking to challenge the status quo and to promote reform-minded candidates who may not otherwise have the resources to mount a successful campaign. Candidate petitions typically require individuals to collect a certain number of signatures from registered voters in order to qualify for a spot on the ballot. This can be a time-consuming and difficult process, but it can also be an effective way for a reform-minded candidate to get their message out to a broad group of voters. In some cases, a petition-driven candidacy can even lead to a successful election victory. In addition to providing an opportunity for reform-minded candidates to get their message out, candidate petitions can also help to ensure that the election process is fair and open. By having the signatures of registered voters, it ensures that the candidate is qualified to appear on the ballot. This can help to create a more equitable electoral process and ensure that any candidate running for office has the support of their constituents.


Definition and meaning of canvassing: Canvassing is the act of engaging with potential voters in order to share information about a political candidate or party. It is a vital tool in campaigning for political office, as it allows candidates to get their message out to the public and build support for their election. Canvassing can involve door-to-door visits, phone calls, mailers, or other forms of direct communication. Canvassing is often associated with the two-party system, but it can also be used by independent candidates or groups to promote their platforms and ideas.


Definition and meaning of capitalism: Capitalism is an economic system in which the means of production and distribution are owned and controlled by individuals, as opposed to the government. It is characterized by private ownership of capital, competitive markets, free enterprise, and the pursuit of profit. Capitalism is the predominant economic system in the United States today, and it has been the predominant system since the late 18th century. Capitalism is often criticized for creating wealth disparities and for its lack of economic and social protections for workers. Capitalism is also criticized for its reliance on competition, which can lead to the exploitation of workers and to environmental damage. For these reasons, many reform-minded individuals advocate for independent candidates to create a more equitable and sustainable economic system.

Career Politician

Definition and meaning of career politician: A career politician is a person whose primary occupation is the pursuit of political office. This is usually done through traditional means such as campaigning, fundraising, and lobbying, as well as more modern methods such as utilizing social media. While there is nothing necessarily wrong with being a career politician, the current system of two-party politics often gives career politicians an advantage over independent candidates who lack the resources and connections that these individuals have. This can result in the same people being elected again and again and a lack of new, diverse, and innovative ideas being introduced into the political process.

Caucus System

Definition and meaning of caucus system: A caucus system is a method of selecting a political party's nominee for a general election in which voters gather in person to discuss and vote on candidates. Unlike a primary election, which typically involves voters casting secret ballots, a caucus is a public meeting in which voters openly show their support for a particular candidate. The process of a caucus can vary depending on the state or municipality, but typically involves a series of votes in which the least popular candidates are eliminated until one candidate has a majority of the votes.

Caucuses are typically organized by the political parties themselves, rather than by state or local governments. They are commonly used in the United States by the Democratic and Republican parties, and examples of states that use caucus systems include Iowa, Nevada, and Colorado. Some political parties may also use caucuses in addition to primary elections, to elect delegates or other party officials.

The caucus system can have both advantages and disadvantages for voters. On one hand, caucuses allow for more direct voter participation and can foster a sense of community among party members. They also can be more cost-effective than primary elections. On the other hand, caucuses can be less accessible to certain groups of voters, such as those who are unable to attend a meeting in person due to work or other obligations. Additionally, the open nature of caucuses can make it more difficult for voters to maintain anonymity and can deter some from participating.


Definition and meaning of centrism: Centrism is a political ideology that seeks to strike a balance between the political left and right. It is based on the notion that neither side of the political spectrum is inherently better or worse than the other, and that a centrist approach would better serve the needs of the citizens and the nation as a whole.

Centrists often advocate for independent candidates since they are not beholden to either party, and reject the idea of a two-party system. This allows for more diverse opinions and perspectives to be taken into account when forming policy. For example, a centrist might support a policy that both raises taxes on the wealthy and provides tax breaks for the middle class. This allows for both sides of the political spectrum to benefit, while still addressing economic inequality. Centrism focuses on finding common ground and compromise, and seeks to create policies that are beneficial to both sides of the political aisle.

Certificate of Election

Definition and meaning of Certificate of Election: A Certificate of Election is a document issued by an election authority to declare the winners of an election and certify their eligibility to take office. It is a formal and legally binding statement of the results of an election and is used to verify the legitimacy of the elected officeholders. The Certificate of Election is typically issued by the Secretary of State of the state in which the election took place. The Certificate of Election is an important part of ensuring that fair and democratic elections are held and their results are accurately reflected in the governing body. It also helps to confirm that the elected officeholders are qualified and eligible to take office. This document is also used to verify the election results when a recount is required or when a dispute arises over the accuracy of the results. Examples of a Certificate of Election include the certification of the results of the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, in which the Secretary of State of each state certified the election of Donald Trump as President of the United States. Certificates were particularly controversial in the 2020 election, with the final certification of results serving as the backdrop to the riots at the capitol on January 6th, 2021. Other examples of Certificates of Election include the certification of the results of Congressional and state legislative elections, as well as local elections for mayor and other municipal positions.

Character Assassination

Definition and meaning of character assassination: Character assassination is an attempt to tarnish an individual's reputation, usually through false accusations, misrepresentations, or exaggerations of facts. While the tactic can be found in various arenas, it's especially concerning in politics. In politics, character assassination can divert public attention from pressing issues and policy discussions. This is often a form of negative campaigning. Character assassination can range from subtle insinuations to blatant smear campaigns, often spread through media, social networks, or political advertisements. Such tactics can stifle genuine debate and compromise the integrity of democratic processes. For the accused, it can be challenging to address and rectify the damage done, even if the claims are baseless. 

Character assassination contributes to America’s overall state of political corruption. When public figures, be they politicians, activists, or whistleblowers, become the target of character assassination, the intent often goes beyond electoral advantage. It seeks to undermine the very institutions that make democracy possible, diluting the power of checks and balances and discrediting voices that might offer critical scrutiny or alternative perspectives. This form of corruption can erode public trust not just in the individual concerned, but in governance systems as a whole. Furthermore, it creates a chilling effect that discourages honest, qualified candidates from entering the political arena for fear of reputational damage. Thus, character assassination not only contaminates the immediate political landscape but has a lasting impact on the quality and efficacy of governance.

Checks and Balances

Definition and meaning of checks and balances: Checks and balances are an integral part of the American political system, and are a system in which each branch of government has certain powers and responsibilities in order to prevent any one branch from becoming too powerful. This system serves to ensure that no branch of government can become too powerful and will help prevent tyranny. By having power divided among three branches of government, the executive, legislative, and judicial, each branch is able to limit the powers of the other branches, thus providing a check on the power of one branch when it starts to become too powerful. For example, the president has the power to veto a bill passed by Congress, but Congress can override a presidential veto with a two-thirds majority. Moreover, the Supreme Court is able to rule on the constitutionality of laws passed by Congress and executive orders issued by the president. This system of checks and balances ensures that no one branch is able to gain too much power and that the government remains responsive to the desires of the people. By advocating for more independent candidates and ending the two-party system, the goal is to create a more balanced and equitable distribution of power in American politics. This will help ensure that the country’s political system is held accountable to the people and that no one branch or party is able to become too powerful.

Chief Financial Officer

Definition and meaning of chief financial officer: In the United States, a Chief Financial Officer (CFO) is an elected or appointed official responsible for managing a state's financial affairs, including budgeting, accounting, and investments. The specific duties of the CFO vary from state to state, but generally include overseeing the state's financial planning, managing its investments, and ensuring compliance with financial regulations.

Some states have an elected CFO as part of their state government. The exact title and responsibilities of the CFO may vary by state, but in general, they play a key role in managing the state's finances and ensuring that public funds are used responsibly.

Some states that have an elected CFO include Florida, Hawaii, Louisiana, and Nevada. However, it's important to note that this list may not be comprehensive and that some states may have an appointed CFO instead of an elected one. In addition, some states may use different titles, such as State Controller or State Treasurer, to refer to the official responsible for managing the state's financial affairs.


Definition and meaning of citizen: A citizen is someone who has rights and responsibilities in their political community. A citizen is someone who has the right to vote, to express their opinions, and to hold their government accountable. They also have the responsibility to participate in public discourse, to stay informed of current events, and to respect the rule of law. In the United States, citizens are individuals who are born in the country or who have been naturalized. All citizens have the right to free speech and to pursue their own interests. With the right to vote comes the responsibility to be informed about the political issues that affect their lives. Citizens of the United States have a responsibility to be open to new ideas and perspectives, and to have the courage to challenge the status quo. This means standing up for causes and issues that are important to you and your community, regardless of who is in power. Ultimately, citizens are the people who make up a nation and are responsible for its future. They have the power to shape their own destinies and the destinies of those around them. By living up to their responsibilities as citizens, they can help create a better, more equitable society for all.

Citizen Initiative

Definition and meaning of citizen initiative: A citizen initiative is a form of direct democracy in which members of a community or electorate can propose legislation or constitutional amendments. This type of system allows members of the public to have a direct say in the policies and laws that govern them. It enables citizens to be more involved in politics, and to have a greater impact on outcomes. Examples of citizen initiatives in the United States include ballot initiatives, referendums, and citizen petitions. In a reform-minded context, citizen initiatives can be seen as a way to bypass the two-party system and create a more independent and diverse political landscape. They can also be used to challenge the status quo and push for progressive change. Citizen initiatives are a powerful tool for citizens to take control of their own destiny and create a more equitable and representative democracy.

Citizens United v. FEC

Definition and meaning of Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission (FEC): Citizens United v. FEC was a landmark 2010 Supreme Court decision that declared that the federal government cannot regulate the spending of corporations, labor unions, and other organizations on political campaigns and advertising. This decision effectively removed the limitations on independent expenditures, allowing for corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds on political campaigns. This decision has been widely criticized for allowing large corporations to influence the outcome of elections, as well as for disproportionately benefiting the two major political parties. The Citizens United v. FEC decision has had a major impact on the American political landscape, allowing for the rise of Super PACs and other political action committees that can spend freely on political campaigns without the need for disclosure of their donors. These organizations have taken advantage of the ruling, often spending large amounts of money to support the major political parties or to oppose candidates who are not in line with their interests. This has led to a greater influence of corporate and union money in politics, making it harder for independent candidates to compete.

City Attorney

Definition and meaning of city attorney: The role of a city attorney is to serve as the chief legal advisor and representative for a city or municipality. City attorneys are typically appointed or elected, depending on local regulations. This individual provides legal counsel to city officials, departments, and sometimes even boards and commissions. Their duties can range from drafting ordinances, giving legal opinions on municipal matters, representing the city in litigation, and ensuring that city operations comply with state and federal laws. In essence, the city attorney plays a pivotal role in ensuring the city's actions uphold the rule of law. While they represent the city's interests, they also indirectly safeguard citizens' interests by ensuring transparent and lawful governance.

City Clerk

Definition and meaning of city clerk: A city clerk is a person who is an elected or appointed official in local government. City clerks are responsible for maintaining records, tracking and verifying documents, and ensuring that the local government is operating in accordance with the law. City clerks are often an undervalued part of the government, as they are responsible for ensuring that elections are free and fair, and that all laws are followed.

In many cases, city clerks are the only independent members of the local government, as they are not affiliated with any particular party. This allows them to provide impartial advice and assistance in the administration of local government without fear of reprisal from one political party or the other. As citizens become more aware of their political power, they are increasingly advocating for more independent candidates and an end to the two-party system. City clerks can play an important role in this effort as they are well-placed to ensure a fair and transparent electoral process.

City Council

Definition and meaning of city council: A city council is a legislative body that represents the citizens of a city or municipality. It is typically composed of elected officials who are responsible for making policies and laws, setting the budget, and overseeing the provision of public services. The city council also serves as a forum for public discussion and debate, and is often the primary point of contact between the citizens and their local government. The city council is an important part of the democratic process, and can have a significant impact on the quality of life in a community. Ideally, city councils should represent the diverse interests of their constituents, including independent candidates and those outside of the two major political parties. This allows for greater representation of the citizens’ needs and interests, as well as a more balanced approach to policy making. In addition to setting laws and policies, city councils are also responsible for setting and overseeing the budget. This means they need to be able to identify and prioritize needs, allocate resources, and ensure that funds are spent in the most effective way possible. City councils are essential for a functioning democracy, and can greatly improve the quality of life in a given community. It is important for citizens to get involved and make their voices heard, so that each council member can accurately represent their constituents’ interests and needs.

City Manager

Definition and meaning of city manager: A city manager is a professional, non-partisan position in a city or town's administrative hierarchy. Typically appointed by the city council or elected officials, the city manager oversees the day-to-day operations of the city. Being appointed means that the city manager is typically not elected. This role often exists in a council-manager form of government where the elected officials set policy directions, and the city manager, similar to a CEO in a business, executes these directives. Their responsibilities encompass a wide range, from budget management and staff oversight to interacting with the public and ensuring services are effectively delivered. The position's non-partisan nature ensures that decisions are made based on the needs of the community rather than because of political considerations. The idea is to bring a professional, efficient, and objective approach to local governance.

Civic Engagement

Definition and meaning of civic engagement: Civic engagement is a term used to describe the active involvement of citizens in the political process. This can include voting in elections, advocating for or against public policies, or running for office. Civic engagement also encompasses the willingness of individuals to participate in local community events, from charitable drives to neighborhood clean-ups.

Civic engagement has become increasingly important in the United States, as the two-party system has become more entrenched and both major parties have become more ideologically homogenous. Reformers are advocating for more independent candidates and an end to the two-party system, arguing that greater civic engagement is essential for a healthy democracy. Civic engagement is therefore an important way to ensure that all voices are heard in the political process.

Civil Liberties

Definition and meaning of civil liberties: Civil liberties are the individual rights and freedoms enjoyed by citizens of the United States, which include the right to free speech, freedom of religion, the right to vote, and the right to a fair trial. Civil liberties ensure that citizens have the power to challenge the government and take part in democracy, without fear of reprisal or intimidation. Civil liberties are important for the protection of minority groups and those who are disadvantaged in society. Without civil liberties, these groups could be subject to discrimination and unequal treatment, which would limit their ability to participate in the political process.

Civil Rights

Definition and meaning of civil rights: Civil rights are the legal and political rights of citizens of a nation or state pertaining to freedom of speech, religion, assembly, and general individual rights. These rights are fundamental and protected by the Constitution of the United States and by international law. Civil rights are essential to ensure that all people are treated equally and are not discriminated against based on race, gender, religion, or other protected classes. In the United States, civil rights have been a long-term struggle, with the Civil Rights Movement of the 1950s and 1960s leading to the introduction of the 1964 Civil Rights Act and 1965 Voting Rights Act. These laws have greatly improved civil rights for historically marginalized communities, ensuring equal access to education, voting, employment, and other essential services. The fight for civil rights is ongoing, as many minorities in the United States continue to experience discrimination and unequal access to resources. Reform-minded individuals, activists, and independent candidates advocate for the further expansion of civil rights and an end to the two-party system, which often fails to represent the needs of those who are most vulnerable.

Classical Conservatism

Definition and meaning of classical conservatism: In the context of American politics, classical conservatism is an ideology that emphasizes the preservation of traditional values, limited government, and fiscal responsibility. It is an ideology which is often associated with Republican-leaning policies, such as opposition to abortion, gun control, and environmental regulation. Classical conservatives may also support limited government intervention in the economy, as well as a balanced budget. This ideology is often discussed in contrast to modern conservatism.

Classical Liberalism

Definition and meaning of Classical Liberalism: Classical Liberalism is a political ideology that emphasizes the values of individual freedom, limited government, and free markets. It is often associated with the political philosophy of the Enlightenment and the American Revolution. Classical Liberalism is based on the idea that people should have the right to pursue their own economic and political interests without interference from the government.

Classical Liberalism supports the notion that government should not interfere with the free market. This means that the government should not be involved in regulating economic markets or controlling production. It also means that the government should not be involved in dictating how individuals should lead their lives. Classical Liberalism is an important part of the American political system, and has been a major factor in the development of the two-party system. It has also been a major factor in the growth of independent and third-party candidates, which are often seen as a challenge to the two-party system.

Closed Primary

Definition and meaning of closed primary: A closed primary is an electoral system in which only registered members of a particular political party are eligible to vote in that party's primary election. This means that only registered Democrats can vote in a Democratic primary, and only registered Republicans can vote in a Republican primary. The purpose of a closed primary is to ensure that only members of a particular party are able to select that party's nominee for a general election.

In a closed primary system, the rules for registering to vote may vary depending on the state or municipality. In some cases, voters must register with a specific party in order to vote in that party's primary. In other cases, voters may be able to register as "unaffiliated" or "independent" and choose which party's primary to vote in.

Closed primary system may also have different rules for voter registration cut-off dates, and for voter eligibility (like age, citizenship).

Closed primaries have the advantage of ensuring that only committed members of a party are able to select that party's nominee. This can help to prevent candidates who do not align with the party's platform or values from winning the nomination. However, closed primaries can also limit voter choice, as those who are not registered with a particular party are not able to participate in that party's primary.


Definition and meaning of cloture: "Cloture" is a term deeply rooted in legislative procedures, particularly in the United States Senate. The term represents a crucial mechanism designed to control the duration of debate on a given issue, effectively limiting or ending a filibuster. Originating from the French word "clôture," meaning "closure," cloture is a formal process that seeks to bring debates to a prompt conclusion, allowing for a vote to be taken on the matter being discussed.

The concept of cloture was introduced into the United States Senate in 1917, following a period when there was no procedural method to end debate. Senators could use the filibuster, an extended debate technique, to delay or block legislative action indefinitely. The introduction of cloture was a response to these unlimited debates, providing a structured way to conclude discussion and move forward with decision-making.

In the U.S. Senate, cloture is invoked through a specific process:

  1. Filing for Cloture: A senator files a cloture motion, which requires the signature of at least 16 senators. This motion is presented on the floor and indicates the intention to end debate on a particular bill or nomination.

  2. Waiting Period: After the motion is filed, there is a mandatory waiting period, typically two legislative days, before the Senate can vote on the cloture motion.

  3. Vote for Cloture: To pass the cloture motion and end the filibuster, a specific number of votes is required. Historically, this threshold was set at two-thirds of the senators present and voting, but since 1975, it has been three-fifths of all senators duly chosen and sworn, effectively 60 votes in a full Senate of 100 members.

  4. Post-Cloture Period: Once cloture is invoked, the Senate may spend up to 30 additional hours debating the bill or nomination, after which a final vote is taken. Amendments can be made during this period, but their scope is limited.

Cloture serves as a vital tool in balancing the right of extended debate with the need for legislative efficiency. It ensures that a single senator or a small group cannot indefinitely delay legislative action while maintaining the ability for substantial discussion on important issues.

The cloture rule has undergone changes over time, reflecting evolving attitudes toward the balance between minority rights and majority rule in the Senate. The lowering of the cloture vote threshold from two-thirds to three-fifths is a significant example of this.

Cloture has also been a subject of debate and criticism. Critics argue that it can be used to stifle meaningful debate and minority voices in the Senate. Others contend that the current threshold for invoking cloture is too high, leading to legislative gridlock, especially in a closely divided Senate.


Definition and meaning of coalition: A coalition is a formal agreement between two or more political parties, independent candidates, or other political bodies that agree to work together in order to promote a unified political or policy agenda. Coalitions are formed to increase the power of their members in advancing their shared objectives and are often formed in opposition to the two-party system. Examples of coalitions include the Green Party and the Libertarian Party working together to promote renewable energy policies, or independent candidates joining forces to challenge traditionally entrenched political incumbents. Coalition-building is an important strategy for reform-minded individuals and organizations, as it provides an opportunity to challenge the status quo and create meaningful change.

Commissioner of Public Lands

Definition and meaning of Commissioner of Public Lands: In the United States, a Commissioner of Public Lands is an elected official who is responsible for managing state-owned lands and natural resources, such as forests, parks, and mineral deposits. The specific duties of the Commissioner of Public Lands vary from state to state, but generally include managing and leasing state lands for various purposes, such as logging, grazing, or recreation, and overseeing the state's natural resource management programs.

Several states have an elected Commissioner of Public Lands as part of their state government. The exact title and responsibilities of the Commissioner may vary by state, but in general, they play a key role in managing and preserving the state's natural resources for the benefit of the public.

Some states that have an elected Commissioner of Public Lands include Washington, Montana, New Mexico, and Idaho. However, it's important to note that this list may not be comprehensive and that some states may use different titles or have an appointed official instead of an elected one.


Definition and meaning of communism: Communism is a socio-economic theory and political ideology that advocates for the collective ownership of the means of production and property, and the abolition of private property. Communism is often associated with oppressive authoritarian regimes and governments, such as the Soviet Union or communist China.

Theoretically, however, communism is an ideology that promotes the creation of an egalitarian society in which individuals are equal and have equal access to resources and opportunities. It is a system of economic and social organization in which all property and resources are owned and controlled by all of the people, rather than by individuals or private corporations. Communism also encourages a form of government in which all citizens have equal rights and the power of decision-making is shared amongst all the people, rather than concentrated in the hands of a few. Communism is an idea that seeks to create social justice, equality, and freedom from oppressive governments and systems that are controlled by the wealthy and powerful.

Included in the list of third parties in the United States are communist-affiliated parties including Communist Party USA and Revolutionary Communist Party, USA.


Definition and meaning of comptroller: Comptroller is an important role in American politics. Also known sometimes as controller, comptroller is a position of financial management and control in a government organization or institution. It is the duty of the comptroller to oversee the financial activities of the government, including auditing, accounting, reporting, budgeting and revenue management. In addition, the comptroller is responsible for ensuring compliance with laws, regulations and policies. The comptroller is an independent entity, typically appointed by the president or the governor, who is responsible for ensuring the accuracy and integrity of financial information. Comptroller is a vital position in any government, as it helps to ensure that public funds are used in accordance with the law and in the best interests of the people. In order to ensure the integrity of the financial system, it is important for the comptroller to be independent, and not beholden to any particular party or faction. This independence helps to ensure that the comptroller’s decisions are based on sound financial principles, free from any political or special interests. In the current two-party system, the comptroller can sometimes become a partisan position, and this can be a detriment to the public interest. In order to ensure that the comptroller is truly independent, reform-minded individuals and organizations advocate for more independent candidates to be elected to this important role. This would help to ensure that the comptroller is not beholden to any particular political faction, but instead is focused on ensuring that public funds are used in an honest and responsible manner.

Concurrent Powers

Definition and meaning of concurrent powers: Concurrent powers are those that are shared by both the federal government and the states. Both the federal government and the states have the authority to pass laws, collect taxes, and borrow money to fund projects. Concurrent powers are a key characteristic of American federalism. This system of shared powers can be seen as a way to ensure a level playing field and to prevent one party or candidate from exerting outsized influence.

The concept of concurrent powers is rooted in the U.S. Constitution, which outlines the framework for a balanced distribution of power. Notably, Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution specifies the powers granted to the federal government, while the Tenth Amendment reserves all other powers to the states or the people. This division of power is designed to prevent the concentration of power and maintain a federal system where both the state and federal governments can address the needs of their constituents.

The following are commonly cited examples of concurrent powers:

  • Regulating Commerce: Both the federal and state governments have the authority to regulate commerce within their jurisdictions. This includes the ability to enact laws that affect trade, business operations, and economic activities.

  • Collecting Taxes: While the federal government may impose income or import taxes, states have the authority to collect sales, property, and income taxes.

  • Borrowing Money: Both levels of government can borrow money to finance public projects, such as infrastructure development, education, and healthcare services. This ability is crucial for addressing their immediate needs while planning for long-term growth.

  • Passing Laws: States can enact laws on matters not exclusively reserved for the federal government, as long as these laws do not conflict with federal laws or the U.S. Constitution. This includes legislation on public safety, health, and welfare. This is why certain laws tend to vary from state to state.

The system of concurrent powers has sometimes been a source of political contention. For example, debates over the extent of federal versus state authority in areas such as environmental regulation and healthcare have underscored the complexities of concurrent powers.

Concurrent powers are pivotal in maintaining the balance and flexibility of the United States' federal system. By allowing both the federal government and state governments to legislate, tax, and fund projects, concurrent powers ensure that governance remains responsive to the diverse needs of the American people. Understanding these powers is essential for appreciating the complexities and strengths of American federalism.

To learn more about concurrent powers and their connection to voter representation, read a more in-depth analysis here.


  • U.S. Constitution, Article I, Section 8.

  • The Tenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

  • McCulloch v. Maryland, 17 U.S. (4 Wheat.) 316 (1819).

Conference Committee

Definition and meaning of conference committee: A conference committee is a bipartisan body formed to reconcile differences between House and Senate versions of a legislative bill. Through negotiations, the members of the committee work to produce a single bill that is acceptable to both Houses. This process is often used when both chambers pass different versions of the same bill. Examples of conference committees include the Super Committee formed to address the deficit crisis in 2011 and the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction in 2021. The two-party system often utilizes conference committees to quickly pass legislation and to ensure that only their preferred version of a bill is enacted. This often results in laws that are not reflective of the will of the people. Reform-minded individuals should strive for a more independent and transparent legislative process, one that is not dominated by the two-party system.

Conflict of Interest

Definition and meaning of conflict of interest: A conflict of interest in politics arises when an individual's personal interests, relationships, or financial affairs potentially interfere with their duties and responsibilities in public office. This conflict can skew decision-making processes, leading to actions that may benefit the individual at the expense of the public good. Such conflicts, whether actual, potential, or perceived, erode trust in public institutions and undermine the principles of transparent and accountable governance.

In the political arena, conflicts of interest can manifest in various forms. One common scenario is when a public official has financial interests in a business that could be affected by their governmental actions, such as voting on legislation that could benefit that business. Similarly, conflicts arise when officials accept gifts, favors, or employment offers from entities that could influence their official duties. Even family connections or personal relationships can result in conflicts of interest if they impact an official's impartiality in executing their duties.

The impact of conflicts of interest in politics is far-reaching. First, they can lead to decisions that prioritize personal gain over public welfare, resulting in policies that do not serve the best interests of the community. This misalignment can lead to inefficient use of public resources, corruption, and a general decline in the quality of governance. In the long term, persistent conflicts of interest can erode public confidence in government, fostering cynicism and disengagement among citizens.

Addressing conflicts of interest requires a robust framework of laws and ethical guidelines that dictate how public officials should navigate situations where their personal interests may intersect with their official duties. Disclosure of financial interests, recusal from decisions where a conflict exists, and strict limitations on gifts and favors from entities that could influence official actions are fundamental components of such a framework.

In conclusion, conflicts of interest in politics represent a significant threat to the integrity and effectiveness of governance. They undermine the principles of democracy and public service, leading to decisions that may not align with the best interests of the populace. Effective management of conflicts of interest is essential to maintaining public trust in government and ensuring that public officials act in the best interest of the community they serve. This management requires a combination of legal frameworks, transparent practices, ethical education, and active civic engagement.

Congressional Record

Definition and meaning of Congressional Record: The Congressional Record is a document that records the proceedings of the United States Congress. It includes the text of all legislation and resolutions, floor debates, committee hearings, and presidential messages. It is an invaluable tool for researchers, historians, and citizens alike. However, it also has its limitations; the two-party system creates an environment where independent candidates and their voices are often underrepresented in the record. This means that the Congressional Record often fails to capture the full scope of the diverse opinions of the American people.


Definition and meaning of conservatism: Conservatism is a political ideology that advocates for smaller government, fiscal responsibility, and traditional values. It is rooted in the belief that the government’s role is limited and should not interfere in people’s lives. Conservative policies typically favor free-market capitalism, lower taxes, reduced regulation, and personal responsibility. Examples of conservatism include limited government spending, lower taxation, and support for traditional family values. Conservatism emphasizes the importance of fiscal and personal responsibility. Conservatives often support traditional values such as a strong military, traditional family values, and the protection of human life. Conservatives often oppose socialism, government intervention in the economy, and liberal social policies. The two-party system has been dominated by conservatism for decades, but in recent years, the public has become more aware of the need for more independent candidates and an end to the two-party system. Reform-minded conservatives advocate for a government that is more representative of the people and less influenced by special interests. This type of conservative believes that the government should protect the rights of all citizens, not just those who share its views.

Conservative Party of New York State

Definition and meaning of the Conservative Party of New York State: The Conservative Party of New York State is a political party that is primarily composed of fiscal and social conservatives. This party was formed in 1962 to promote the values of limited government, low taxes, and individual responsibility. It has also been a strong advocate of traditional family values and social conservatism. The party has a strong presence in upstate New York, and its members are typically more conservative than those of the Democratic Party. The Conservative Party of New York State typically endorses Republican candidates, but it has been known to support some independent and third-party candidates. This is due, in part, to the party's support for more independent candidates and the belief that the two-party system has become too entrenched in New York politics. While the Conservative Party of New York State does not have the same level of influence as the two major parties, it is an important and growing part of the political landscape.


Definition and meaning of constituency: A constituency is a defined geographic area from which people are elected to serve in a legislative body. A constituency is also more than just a geographic area, as it is a group of people that are linked together by common interests or concerns. A constituency can be based on a particular issue, such as civil rights, or on a broader set of values, such as economic security or environmental protection. In order to create a truly representative government, it is essential to ensure that each constituency is adequately represented in the legislative body. This can be achieved by electing more independent candidates and reform-minded challengers that are not tied to the two-party system. By doing so, we can ensure that each constituency is adequately represented and that the voices of all constituents are heard.


Definition and meaning of constituent: In American politics, a constituent is a member of a constituency. Put more simply, a constituent is a resident of a certain electoral district. Typically, a constituent is a member of the electorate who is qualified to vote for their district's representatives.

In the political landscape, constituents are key stakeholders in the decision-making process. Their input and voices are crucial, influencing the outcome of elections within their districts. This influence is exercised through voting for candidates or parties that align with their values and interests. In addition to voting, constituents can also voice their opinions on matters of public interest by attending town hall meetings or contacting their representatives. By doing so, they can ensure that their representatives are aware of their views and concerns. This is an important part of the political process, as it allows for a more direct line of communication between representatives and their constituents.

The following are examples of how the term "constituent" is frequently used in politics:

  • The county's constituents will have the chance to elect new representatives in the upcoming election.

  • Elected officials should listen to the needs of their constituents.

  • The congressman's office sent out a survey to all constituents to gauge public opinion about a proposed policy.

Outside of American politics, the term "constituent" has other meanings as well. In chemistry, a constituent refers to any of the identifiable components or substances that make up a chemical compound. In linguistics, the term is used to describe any word, phrase, or sentence component that functions as a single unit within a larger structure. In all three of these contexts, the term "constituent" refers to a part of a larger whole.

Constitution Party

Definition and meaning of Constitution Party: The Constitution Party is a political party in the United States that seeks to restore government to its original constitutional principles. Founded in 1992, the Constitution Party is considered one of the most conservative of the third-party organizations in the United States. The Constitution Party has a platform of limited government, fiscal responsibility, national sovereignty, and a return to traditional values. The party supports a strong national defense, a free-market economy, and the right of individuals to own and keep property.

The Constitution Party also advocates for an end to the two-party system and the implementation of term limits for elected officials. Members believe in a strict interpretation of the Constitution and seek to limit government to its original constitutional parameters. Additionally, the party looks to reduce taxes, reduce government spending, and protect the American worker. The party believes in protection of the unborn, the sanctity of marriage, and in the right of individuals to bear arms.

Constitutional Republic

Definition and meaning of constitutional republic: A constitutional republic is a form of government in which the state's authority is both derived from and limited by a governing constitution. This political system balances the power of the people with the authority of elected representatives. This balance ensures that the rights and liberties of citizens are protected against any potential abuses of power by elected or appointed officials.

In a constitutional republic, citizens have the right to elect their leaders, and those leaders are responsible for upholding the fundamental laws of the land. A constitutional republic provides safeguards to ensure that the decisions made by elected officials are generally in line with the best interest of the people. In the United States, these safeguards include the right to a fair trial, the freedom of speech and press, and the right to assemble peacefully.

The concept of a constitutional republic has its roots in ancient Rome, where the Roman Republic operated from around 509 BC until the establishment of the Roman Empire. The Roman Republic was characterized by a system of government in which power was held by the people and their elected representatives, and laws were governed by a system of checks and balances.

In the modern era, the United States is often cited as a prime example of a constitutional republic. The U.S. Constitution, ratified in 1788, established a federal system of government with a clear separation of powers among the executive, legislative, and judicial branches. This separation of powers is a hallmark of the constitutional republic model, as it is designed to prevent any single branch of government from gaining too much control. The Federalist Papers, a series of 85 articles and essays written by Alexander Hamilton, James Madison, and John Jay promoting the ratification of the U.S. Constitution, demonstrate the founders' philosophies surrounding the separation of powers and the principle of balanced government.

To more fully understand the nuances of the constitutional republic model, compare this form of government to others, such as direct democracy and authoritarianism.


Definition and meaning of contiguity: Contiguity means the physical nearness or closeness of two or more things. In politics, contiguity is a term used to describe how two parties, ideas, or candidates are closely associated with one another, often on the same ballot or in the same political party. This is often seen as a form of strategic voting, where the voter is more likely to vote for the candidate that is associated with their party of choice. In this sense, contiguity can be seen as a way to limit choice and diversity, as it can discourage the emergence of independent candidates or ideas that don't fit in with the existing political landscape. However, it can also be seen as a way to encourage voters to think outside of the two-party system, as it gives them the opportunity to vote for candidates that are closely associated with their own values and beliefs.

Continuing Resolution

Definition and meaning of continuing resolution: A continuing resolution (CR) is a type of budgetary legislation used in the United States Congress to fund government operations and programs when the budget has not yet been finalized. It is a temporary measure, allowing for the government to remain operational until a permanent budget is passed. This form of budgeting is often used to avoid a government shutdown, and is usually only used in times of political gridlock. The use of continuing resolutions has long been a source of contention in politics due to its implications for decreased government oversight and accountability. It allows the two major parties to continue to control the budgeting process in Washington, without the input of independent candidates or other voices. This often results in a lack of transparency and accountability, preventing the public from being able to understand how the government is governing. Continuing resolutions can also lead to increased inefficiencies in government, with no clear budget guiding spending decisions. This can lead to wasteful spending and an inability to address the most pressing needs of the country. If independent candidates and other voices had more of a say in the budgeting process, it could lead to a more transparent and effective government.

Contributions and Spending Limits

Definition and meaning of contributions and spending limits: Contributions and spending limits refer to the regulations placed on the amount of money that individuals, organizations, and political action committees (PACs) can donate to a candidate's campaign, as well as the amount a candidate can spend on their campaign. These limits are put in place to prevent wealthy individuals or organizations from having disproportionate influence on the outcome of an election.

For example, in the state of New York, candidates for governor are subject to a $65,100 contribution limit per individual donor and a $5,000 contribution limit per PAC. In addition, candidates for governor are subject to a spending limit of $22.5 million in the primary election and $40 million in the general election.

However, not all states or municipalities have these limits in place. Some states have no contribution or spending limits, while others have only partial limits. Reasons for this can vary, but often it is because these regulations are difficult to enforce and can be subject to legal challenges. Additionally, some states may have a history of relatively low campaign spending or have a small population, making campaign spending limits less necessary.

It is important to note that contribution and spending limits for independent and third-party candidates for office may vary from those of major party candidates. This is because these candidates often have less access to funding, and therefore may be subject to different regulations to level the playing field.


Definition and meaning of controller: In the United States, a Controller (sometimes called a Comptroller) is an elected or appointed official responsible for overseeing the financial operations of a government entity, such as a city, county, or state government. The specific duties of the Controller vary depending on the jurisdiction, but generally include managing and overseeing financial reporting, accounting, and auditing functions, as well as ensuring compliance with applicable laws and regulations.

The role of the Controller can vary depending on the state or local government in which they serve. In some cases, the Controller may serve as the chief financial officer for the government entity, while in other cases they may have more limited responsibilities, such as overseeing payroll or accounts payable.

Some states have an elected Controller as part of their state government, while others have an appointed Controller. For example, in California, the Controller is an elected official who serves as the chief financial officer for the state government and is responsible for auditing state agencies and ensuring that public funds are used effectively and efficiently. Other states may use different titles for the official responsible for financial oversight, such as Treasurer or Auditor, and the specific duties and responsibilities of these positions can vary widely depending on the state.

Council-Manager Government

Definition and meaning of council-manager government: The Council-Manager Government is a form of local government. It combines the democratic leadership of elected officials with the administrative expertise of an appointed manager. This form of municipal governance strives to balance political responsiveness with professional management, aiming to bring the best of both worlds to the service of local communities.

At its core, the Council-Manager system is characterized by two primary components:

  • The Council: This is an elected body, usually composed of a mayor and city council members, chosen directly by the residents of the municipality. This council is responsible for setting policies, crafting local laws, setting budgets, and representing the interests and will of the people. The mayor can have various roles — from being a ceremonial figure to having a more active part in governance.

  • The City Manager: Chosen by the elected council, the city manager is a professional administrator tasked with carrying out the policies set by the council. This individual is not a political appointee in the traditional sense but is selected based on their credentials, experience, and expertise in public administration. The city manager oversees the daily operations of the municipal government, manages municipal staff, and serves as the primary advisor to the council on matters of budget, personnel, and infrastructure. 

The Council-Manager system emerged in the early 20th century, during a time when cities in the United States were experiencing rapid growth and facing challenges in governance. Corruption, inefficiencies, and a perceived lack of professionalism in municipal administrations led reformers to advocate for a system that combined democratic oversight with professional management. The model was inspired, in part, by the corporate structure, where a board of directors (equivalent to the council) sets direction and a CEO (equivalent to the manager) runs daily operations.

The Council-Manager form of government stands as a testament to the ongoing evolution of local governance. This system seeks to offer a balanced, efficient, and responsive model for municipalities, ensuring that the needs of residents are met in a manner that is both effective and accountable.

County Clerk

Definition and meaning of county clerk: County clerk is a public official responsible for performing administrative duties for their county. This includes but is not limited to, issuing marriage licenses, registering voters, and collecting taxes. The county clerk is the public's entry point into the local government. These clerks are elected officials and often serve on a partisan basis. This means they are usually affiliated with one of the two major parties in the United States. However, it is important that the county clerk is an impartial administrator of their duties and is not influenced by their party affiliation. This will ensure that the public's business is handled with integrity and fairness.

County Commissioner

Definition and meaning of county commissioner: County commissioner is a position of local government elected by the people of a specific county. A county commissioner is a member of a legislative body that provides oversight and guidance on the development and implementation of county policies. They are generally responsible for managing the budget, maintaining public infrastructure, and regulating local businesses. In a reform minded context, county commissioners can be seen as a way of breaking down the two-party system and offering more independent candidates a chance to have a voice in local government. Electing independent candidates to county commissioner positions can provide a more diverse representation in local government and help to create more equitable policies for local residents. Furthermore, county commissioners can provide a way for the people of a county to have a voice in their local government, with the potential to bring more accountability and transparency to their government. Overall, county commissioners are an important figure in local government that are elected by the people of a county to provide oversight and guidance on the development and implementation of county policies. They are a valuable tool for breaking down the two-party system and providing more independent candidates with a chance to have a voice in local government.


Definition and meaning of cronyism: Cronyism is a form of corrupt, undemocratic nepotism in which those in political power favor and reward their friends and family members with special treatment, privileges, and positions. It is an insidious form of patronage politics which undermines meritocracy by privileging personal relationships over qualifications, experience, and expertise. Cronyism is detrimental to the democratic process, as it distorts the political landscape by favoring certain individuals and groups over others, thus marginalizing those who are not part of the crony network.

Examples of cronyism include appointments to government positions, lucrative contracts, and special exemptions, all of which are handed out without regard to qualifications or merit. In order to combat cronyism and create a more equitable political system, it is necessary to reform the two-party system by electing more independent candidates and putting an end to the cycle of special favors and influence peddling.


Definition and meaning of crowdfunding: Crowdfunding is a modern method of raising funds by pooling small contributions from a vast number of individuals. Facilitated by the internet and social media, this method has democratized fundraising, allowing anyone with an idea, project, or cause to seek financial support from a global audience. In politics, crowdfunding has transformed campaign financing. Instead of relying solely on large donations from a few wealthy contributors or entities, politicians and movements can now tap into the collective financial power of their supporters, regardless of the amount each can give. Individuals can give as little as $1 and know that they are making an impact in the campaign or movement they are supporting. This strategy aligns with the democratic ideals of inclusivity and representation, emphasizing the importance of many small voices over a few loud ones.

It’s easy to find out which politicians rely on crowdfunding and which do not. OpenSecrets provides a helpful database of the members of Congress, including their funding data. In the 117th Congress, the members of Congress who raised the greatest percentage of their total campaign funds from small-dollar donors were Bernie Sanders, Marjorie Taylor-Green, and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.