Terms Glossary

GoodParty.org'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.

Fairness Doctrine

Definition and meaning of fairness doctrine: The Fairness Doctrine is a policy that was implemented by the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 1949 in order to ensure that broadcasters presented controversial issues of public importance in an honest, equitable, and balanced manner. It required that broadcasters provide equal airtime to both sides of a debate and to refrain from broadcasting material that was one-sided and biased. The aim of the Fairness Doctrine was to promote the public interest by ensuring that all sides of public issues were presented fairly and accurately. In its original formulation, the Fairness Doctrine was intended to ensure that the public had access to a wide range of views on a variety of topics, such as political issues, social issues, and economic issues. The idea was to ensure that all views were represented in a fair and balanced manner. This meant that broadcasters had to provide airtime to those who had opposing views, and that they had to provide the same amount of airtime to both sides. In 1987, the FCC revoked the Fairness Doctrine, arguing that it was unnecessary and that the marketplace of ideas could provide for a diversity of views without government intervention. This decision was controversial, as many felt that the Fairness Doctrine was essential in ensuring that the public had access to a wide range of opinions and that broadcasters were held accountable for presenting balanced coverage on controversial issues.

Faithless Elector

Definition and meaning of faithless elector: A faithless elector is a member of the Electoral College, who, despite the pledge they made to their political party, votes for a different candidate in the presidential election. This form of election fraud is a violation of the Constitution, as it undermines the principle of one-person one-vote. A faithless elector is not just limited to the United States; it has also been seen in other countries with a similar electoral system. In the 2016 U.S. presidential election, there were seven faithless electors — three from Texas, two from Washington, one from Hawaii and one from Minnesota. The reform-minded view of faithless electors is that they should be held accountable for their actions and discouraged from voting against their political party's nominee. If a faithless elector was found to be in violation of their state's laws, they should be punished accordingly. There could also be federal laws in place to ensure that electors cast their votes in accordance with the popular vote. One way to do this is to enforce penalties on faithless electors, such as limiting their ability to run for office in the future or even revoking their electoral votes. This would help ensure that the will of the people is respected and not undermined by individuals who may be acting in their own self-interest. In the end, faithless electors should be discouraged and held accountable for their actions to ensure that the voices of the people are heard in the presidential election.


Definition and meaning of fascism: Fascism is an authoritarian ideology that combines extreme nationalism and racism with an aggressive foreign policy and a corporatist economic system. It emphasizes a strong central government and the suppression of individual rights in favor of the state. Fascism rejects democracy, socialism, and liberalism, and is often associated with militarism, totalitarianism, and oppression. Examples of fascist governments include Nazi Germany, Mussolini's Italy, Franco's Spain, and the Japanese Empire. The true definition of fascism is a way of governing that is authoritarian, nationalistic, and anti-democratic. It is characterized by militarism, corporatism, and a rejection of liberal values and principles. Fascism has a strong emphasis on the nation state and its power, and often involves the suppression of civil liberties and minority groups. Fascism also often includes racism, xenophobia, and a distrust of democracy and international organizations. Ultimately, fascism is an extreme form of nationalism and authoritarianism that seeks to promote a particular political agenda over all others.


Definition and meaning of fear-mongering: Fear-mongering is the use of exaggerated or manipulated information to instill fear in the public, often for the purpose of furthering a political agenda or gaining power. This tactic is used in politics to spread false or exaggerated information in order to influence public opinion and sow distrust of candidates or policies. Fear-mongering can be used to manipulate the public and to discourage them from voting for a particular candidate or policy. An example of fear-mongering can be seen in the 2016 U.S. Presidential Election, when both candidates used fear-mongering tactics to influence public opinion. Donald Trump employed fear-mongering tactics to demonize immigrants and to depict himself as the only candidate who could protect the United States from terrorism and crime. Similarly, Hillary Clinton used fear-mongering to paint her opponent as dangerous and untrustworthy. Fear-mongering is a destructive tactic that serves to polarize our political climate and weaken the independent candidates that could provide a much-needed alternative to the two-party system. It is important that the public is aware of this tactic and does not allow themselves to be manipulated by disinformation.

Federal Election Campaign Act

Definition and meaning of Federal Election Campaign Act: The Federal Election Campaign Act (FECA) is a United States law that sets forth the rules and regulations for the financing of federal campaigns. This includes the disclosure of contributions and expenditures, the establishment of the Federal Election Commission (FEC), and the limitation of contributions and expenditures by individuals and organizations. FECA was originally passed in 1971 and substantially amended in 1974, 1976, 1979, and 2002. The purpose of FECA is to ensure that federal campaigns are conducted fairly, openly, and responsibly. This is done by discouraging large, secretive contributions to campaigns, limiting contributions to campaigns, and requiring disclosure of all contributions, expenditures, and independent spending. FECA also created the FEC, which is responsible for enforcing the regulations set forth in the Act. FECA has had a large impact on the way campaigns are conducted in the United States. It has led to greater transparency, as the public is now able to see who is financing certain campaigns and how much money is being spent. It has also limited the amount of money that campaigns can receive from individuals, organizations, and political action committees (PACs). This has resulted in campaigns being less dependent on large donors and more focused on grassroots support.

Federal Election Commission (FEC)

Definition and meaning of Federal Election Commission (FEC): The Federal Election Commission (FEC) is an independent agency of the United States government that is responsible for enforcing federal campaign finance laws. It was created in 1974 in response to the Watergate scandal and is made up of six commissioners who are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate.

The FEC's main responsibilities include regulating the campaign finance activities of federal candidates, political parties, and other committees, as well as disclosing campaign finance information to the public. It also has the authority to investigate alleged violations of campaign finance laws and to impose penalties on those who break the rules.

However, the FEC has been criticized for being ineffective and partisan in its enforcement of campaign finance laws. Some critics argue that it is too lenient on major party candidates and too harsh on independent and third party candidates, who often face more scrutiny and penalties for minor infractions.

There have been calls for reforms to the FEC that would make it more transparent and accountable to the public. These could include measures such as increasing the number of commissioners, establishing stricter disclosure requirements, and giving the agency more enforcement power.

Reforms to the FEC are necessary to create a more fair and equitable electoral system. By holding all candidates and parties to the same standards and ensuring that campaign finance laws are enforced evenly, we can create a more representative democracy that works for everyone.

Federal Voting Rights Act

Definition and meaning of the Federal Voting Rights Act (FVRA): The Federal Voting Rights Act is a landmark piece of legislation that ensures the right to vote for all citizens of the United States regardless of race, color, or previous condition of servitude. It was enacted in 1965 to end the practice of state and local governments discriminating against racial and ethnic minorities in voting. This law sets requirements for states to ensure that all eligible citizens have the opportunity to vote. The FVRA prohibits the use of literacy tests and other tactics used to prevent citizens from voting. It also requires states to adjust their polling places and voting materials to accommodate language minority voters. Additionally, the FVRA requires that states provide bilingual ballots and interpreters to assist language minority voters in understanding the process of voting. The FVRA also provides assistance to those with disabilities, making it easier for them to cast their votes. In a nutshell, the Federal Voting Rights Act is a critical piece of legislation that safeguards the right of all citizens to participate in the electoral process regardless of race, language, or disability. This law is essential to ensure that all voices are heard in the democratic process.


Definition and meaning of federalism: Federalism is a system of government that allows for both the federal government and state governments to share power. It is a system of shared sovereignty, in which power is divided between the federal government and state governments. This system ensures that the power of the federal government is balanced with the power of the states, allowing for greater independence and autonomy from the federal government.

Federalism also encourages states to create their own laws and regulations, as long as they do not conflict with the laws of the federal government. This helps to create a more diverse and vibrant political system. Federalism has been an important part of the American political system since its inception, and has been used to encourage economic competition among the states, as well as to promote civil rights and protect individual freedoms.


Definition and meaning of filibuster: A filibuster is a delaying tactic used to obstruct the passage of a bill or legislative action. It is an important tool employed by the two major political parties in the United States to maintain their power in Washington D.C. This tool is often used to prevent the passage of bills or amendments that might challenge the status quo. The filibuster is a particularly effective tool for the two major parties as it allows them to slow or even stop bills and amendments from passing without having to actually vote against them. This allows for obstruction without public criticism or accountability. In this way, the two major parties are able to maintain their power and prevent true reform from taking root. It is critical that we recognize the potential of the filibuster to be used to the detriment of Americans and that we work together to ensure that this power is used responsibly and to the benefit of all citizens.

Filing for Office

Definition and meaning of filing for office: Filing for office is the process of formally declaring an intent to become a candidate in an election for a political office. This action involves completing the necessary paperwork, including providing personal information, registering with the state or local election board, and paying the required filing fee. In order to be on the ballot, a candidate must generally file for office by a certain deadline established by the relevant election board. The process of filing for office can often be burdensome and costly, especially for independent candidates who don’t have the resources of established political parties. This serves to discourage citizens from running for office outside of the two-party system, which can limit the range of voices, experiences, and perspectives represented in the political process. As such, reform-minded activists advocate for simplifying the filing process and making it more accessible for independent candidates in order to create a more inclusive and diverse political landscape.

Final Five Voting

Definition and meaning of final five voting: Final five voting is a form of reform-minded voting that seeks to reduce the number of participants in a given election. It is an alternative to the traditional system of ‘first-past-the-post’ voting, where the candidate who receives the most votes wins the election. Under Final Five voting, the five candidates who receive the most votes in the primary election will go on to compete in the general election. This means that a wider range of voices can be heard and greater representation can be achieved. Final five voting is seen as a way to make elections more democratic and fair. It allows for more diverse candidates and perspectives to be heard and gives a greater voice to minority groups who may otherwise be excluded from the ballot. Additionally, it reduces the chances of a candidate winning the election with a small minority of votes. For example, in a local government election, Final Five Voting would allow for five candidates to compete in the general election instead of just the two or three who receive the most votes in the primary election. This would allow a wider range of candidates to be heard and increase the chances of a candidate being elected who represents the majority opinion. Final five voting has the potential to be a powerful tool for reform-minded voters, by allowing for greater representation and increased fairness in elections.

First Past the Post (FPTP)

Definition and meaning of First Past the Post (FPTP): First Past the Post is a voting system in American politics which allows the candidate with the most votes to win the election, regardless of whether or not they have a majority of the popular vote. This system has enabled the two-party system to dominate American politics, as it is almost impossible for independent candidates to win a plurality of the votes in an election. FPTP creates a winner-takes-all system, whereby the candidate with the most votes is automatically declared the winner, without any need for a run-off or majority vote.

This system has been widely criticized for its lack of fairness, as it often elects candidates who don’t have a majority of the vote, and for its tendency to entrench two-party politics. FPTP has been argued to decrease voter turnout, as those who feel their vote will not count are less likely to go to the polls. It is also argued that the system is undemocratic, as those who do not cast a vote for the winning candidate are effectively disenfranchised. For these reasons, it is argued that alternative voting systems should be adopted in order to create a more equitable and representative democracy.

Fiscal Policy

Definition and meaning of fiscal policy: Fiscal policy is a broad term that encompasses the government's spending, taxation, and borrowing decisions. It is a tool used by governments to influence economic activity, and is often used to achieve specific economic goals, such as achieving full employment and price stability. Fiscal policy is the primary means by which the government can affect the macroeconomic environment and is an important factor in the overall economic health of a nation. At its core, fiscal policy is the government's use of taxation and spending to influence economic conditions. Through taxation, the government can affect the amount of money in circulation, affecting consumer demand and the level of economic activity. By increasing or decreasing taxes, the government can encourage or discourage consumer spending. Similarly, through spending, the government can influence the level of economic activity by increasing or decreasing its spending on infrastructure, education, and other services. Fiscal policy is a powerful tool in the hands of reform minded policymakers. It can be used to increase economic growth, reduce poverty and inequality, and foster a more equitable distribution of resources. It can also be used to balance the budget and reduce government debt. The effectiveness of fiscal policy depends on its implementation and the economic forces at play in the economy. By understanding the objectives of fiscal policy and the economic forces that shape it, policymakers can use fiscal policy to achieve their desired economic goals.

Fiscal Year

Definition and meaning of fiscal year: A fiscal year is the 12-month period that a government or organization uses for accounting and budgeting purposes. It can be any 12-month period, such as January to December, April to March, or July to June, and is not necessarily the same as the calendar year. For the United States government, the fiscal year runs from October 1 of one year to September 30 of the next year. Fiscal years are used to help organizations manage their finances, and they are especially important in government budgeting.

Foreign Policy

Definition and meaning of foreign policy: Foreign policy is a set of principles and practices that guide a nation's international relations with other countries and their citizens. It is a way for a nation to shape its relationship with the world and ensure that its interests are respected and protected. The foreign policy of a nation is determined by a wide range of factors, including its culture, geography, economic power, military strength, and political ideology. Examples of foreign policy include trade agreements, diplomatic efforts, military alliances, and foreign aid. Reform-minded foreign policy seeks to build a world where all nations have equal access to resources, security, and economic opportunity. This type of foreign policy emphasizes diplomatic solutions to international disputes, international cooperation to address global issues, and respect for the rights of all people. It also seeks to foster an environment where nations can work together to promote economic growth, social progress, and environmental sustainability. In the 21st century, many nations are embracing a reform-minded foreign policy that seeks to promote global peace, security, and prosperity.

Forward Party

Definition and meaning of Forward Party: The Forward Party is a relatively new political party in the United States. Also known simply as Forward, the Forward Party was founded in 2022 by the 2020 presidential candidate Andrew Yang, along with former members of the Democratic and Republican parties and other independents. With the slogan "Not Left. Not Right. Forward," the Forward Party seeks to embrace a wide range of political perspectives. Liberal, conservative, and centrist Americans are all welcome to join the Forward Party. The party endorses election reform efforts such as ranked choice voting, nonpartisan primaries, and independent redistricting commissions.


Definition and meaning of framers: Framers is a term used to refer to the group of Founding Fathers who drafted and signed the United States Constitution in 1787. The framers of the Constitution were prominent statesmen and political thinkers, including James Madison, Alexander Hamilton, George Washington, and Benjamin Franklin. The framers crafted a document that established a federal government with a system of checks and balances designed to limit the power of the government and ensure the protection of civil liberties. The framers' vision of a limited government led to the creation of a representative democracy, in which citizens have the right to vote and the right to be represented by elected officials. The framers also sought to protect citizens' rights by creating a system of judicial review and the separation of powers between the executive, legislative, and judicial branches of government. The framers' work was based on the idea of self-rule and the belief that citizens should have the right to elect their leaders and have a say in the laws of their country. The framers' vision of a government of the people, by the people, and for the people has been an inspiration for reform-minded individuals and organizations around the world.

Free Market Capitalism

Definition and meaning of free market capitalism: Free market capitalism is a system of economic activity based on private ownership of resources and production, with decisions regarding price and production determined by the forces of supply and demand in the marketplace. It is a system where government intervention is minimal and the market is largely self-regulating. This system allows for a large degree of personal and economic freedom, and it is based on the principle of individual rights and the belief that individuals should be allowed to make their own economic decisions. However, it is important to note that free market capitalism can also lead to inequality and exploitation if not properly regulated. Furthermore, it can lead to a two-party system which can lead to a lack of independent candidates and a lack of competition. To ensure a fair and equitable system, it is essential to have strong regulations in place to protect the interests of all stakeholders, including consumers, businesses, and workers.

Fusion Voting

Definition and meaning of fusion voting: Fusion voting is a political arrangement where two or more political parties agree to list the same candidate on a ballot, effectively combining or "fusing" their support. This practice allows a candidate to run simultaneously on multiple party lines, with the total number of votes received from all lines contributing to the candidate's overall vote count. Fusion voting has a rich history in the United States, particularly during the 19th century, though its usage and legality vary by state today.

Fusion voting was more prevalent in the United States during the 19th century, when it was seen as a way for smaller parties to exert influence without the necessity of winning a plurality or majority outright. This approach often led to strategic alliances between parties with overlapping agendas, enabling them to pool their resources and voter bases to challenge dominant parties. However, the practice faced opposition and was subsequently outlawed in many states by the early 20th century, primarily by the major political parties seeking to maintain their duopoly.

Currently, fusion voting is legal in a handful of states, including New York and Connecticut. Its legality often hinges on state election laws, which can vary widely. In states where fusion voting is permitted, it has been utilized by a range of parties, from major parties to smaller third-party and independent groups.

Fusion voting can contribute to electoral reform and fair representation in several key ways:

  1. Increased Voter Choice: Fusion voting allows voters to express nuanced political preferences. For instance, a voter might support a major party candidate but prefers to do so under a smaller party's banner, reflecting more specific policy priorities or ideological leanings.

  2. Encouraging Political Diversity: By enabling smaller parties to participate more effectively in elections, fusion voting can lead to a more diverse political landscape. This diversity can challenge the dominance of the two-party system and encourage more varied political discourse.

  3. Support for Third-Party and Independent Candidates: Fusion voting can make third-party and independent candidates more viable by allowing them to gather votes from multiple party lines, thus overcoming some of the challenges posed by the "winner-takes-all" nature of most U.S. elections.

However, fusion voting is not without its critics and limitations. Here are a few common critiques of fusion voting:

  1. Complexity for Voters: Multiple listings of the same candidate can be confusing to voters, potentially leading to misunderstandings about the voting process.

  2. Potential for Co-optation: There is a risk that major parties might co-opt smaller parties' candidates, diluting the smaller parties' distinct political agendas.

  3. Limited Geographical Scope: Since fusion voting is only legal in a few states, its impact on national electoral reform is limited.

In summary, fusion voting represents a significant, though underutilized, tool in the realm of electoral reform. It offers a mechanism for enhancing voter choice, encouraging political diversity, and supporting third-party and independent candidates. While it faces legal and practical challenges, its potential to contribute to a more representative and fair political system makes it a topic of ongoing relevance.