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.

Help America Vote Act

Definition and meaning of the Help America Vote Act (HAVA): The Help America Vote Act is a federal law that was signed into law in October 2002. The purpose of the law was to create uniform and secure procedures for federal elections and to provide assistance with the modernization of election equipment and technology. The law required states to establish a central voter registration database and to update states' voting systems. It also created provisional ballots and required states to provide disabled citizens with alternative voting systems. Additionally, it established the Election Assistance Commission (EAC) to oversee and enforce federal election laws. The Help America Vote Act was a major step towards modernizing the American voting system. By establishing uniform registration and voting procedures, HAVA created a more secure and reliable voting system. Moreover, by providing disabled citizens with alternative voting systems, HAVA made it easier for them to exercise their right to vote. Additionally, the establishment of the EAC helped ensure that federal election laws were properly implemented. The Help America Vote Act was an important step in making the American voting system more accessible and secure. However, it is also important to note that the two-party system and its associated power structures remain largely in place. For this reason, reform-minded individuals and organizations have been advocating for more independent candidates and a shift away from the two-party system. By increasing the number of independent candidates and providing a more level playing field, the American voting system can become more representative of the people it serves.

Heritage Foundation

Definition and meaning of the Heritage Foundation: The Heritage Foundation is an American conservative think tank based in Washington, DC that promotes right-wing ideals and policies. Founded in 1973, the organization has become one of the most influential groups in the US, with its research and advocacy shaping both the Republican Party and the wider conservative movement. The Heritage Foundation's mission is to “promote the principles of free enterprise, limited government, individual freedom, traditional American values, and a strong national defense.” Its goals include reducing the size and scope of government, cutting taxes, and promoting free markets. Heritage Foundation scholars have also played a role in advocating for an end to the two-party system, supporting more independent candidates and challenging the status quo in Washington. The organization has had an undeniable influence on American politics and policy-making, with its work being referenced by elected officials and government agencies.

Home Rule

Definition and meaning of home rule: Home rule means that a city or town has the power to make its own laws and decisions on local issues, instead of having the state government make those decisions for them. It gives local communities more control over what happens in their area. Rooted in the belief that those who live in a community are best equipped to make decisions about its governance, home rule underscores the principle of local self-determination.

In the United States, the concept of home rule is primarily associated with local governance, especially concerning cities and municipalities. Historically, American cities were subject to "Dillon's Rule," named after Judge John Forrest Dillon, which stated that municipalities were mere extensions of the state, with no inherent powers of their own. Over time, as urban centers grew in size and complexity, this centralized approach became increasingly unsustainable. Recognizing the unique challenges and needs of growing cities, many states amended their constitutions or passed statutes granting "home rule" powers. Under this new system, municipalities could pass and enforce ordinances, regulate land use, and govern various local matters without always having to seek state permission. The extent and nature of home rule can vary widely from state to state. Some offer broad autonomy, while others provide a narrower scope of freedom.

At its core, "home rule" embodies the spirit of localism. It posits that communities, whether cities or regions, possess a distinct identity, with unique challenges and aspirations. Granting local entities the authority to manage their affairs can ensure a more responsive, efficient, and democratic governance structure. However, balance is also important – ensuring local autonomy does not compromise broader unity or lead to significant disparities in rights or services across regions.


Definition and meaning of homogeneous: Homogeneous is a term used to describe a society or population that is uniform in composition. It typically refers to a group of people who share a common race, ethnicity, religion, language, culture, or other factor. For example, a homogeneous community may consist of people from the same racial or ethnic group, who follow the same religion, or who speak the same language. The two-party system in American politics is an example of a homogeneous system. By limiting the number of party options, the two-party system limits the diversity of ideas and opinions that can be represented in the political discourse. In a homogeneous system, independent candidates and minority voices are often marginalized and excluded. The concept of homogeneity is problematic from a reform-minded perspective. It is important to create a political system that is open to diverse perspectives and encourages a range of candidates. A heterogeneous system, by contrast, would allow for a greater number of independent candidates and encourages competition between multiple parties, allowing for a more equitable and democratic political process.

House of Representatives

Definition and meaning of House of Representatives: The House of Representatives is a legislative body in the United States government that is responsible for representing the interests of the people. It is made up of 435 members, who are elected to two-year terms from districts within each state.

The House of Representatives is considered to be the "people's house" because it is more closely tied to the general public than the Senate, which is made up of two senators from each state regardless of population. This means that the House is supposed to be more responsive to the needs and concerns of ordinary Americans.

However, the House of Representatives has been criticized for being too partisan and for failing to adequately represent the diversity of the American people. Many people feel that the two major political parties have a stranglehold on the system, which makes it difficult for independent and third party candidates to get elected.

There have been calls for reforms that would make the House of Representatives more representative and inclusive. This could include measures such as ranked choice voting, which allows voters to rank candidates in order of preference, or the use of multi-member districts, which would allow for the representation of a wider range of viewpoints.

The House of Representatives needs to be more open and responsive to the needs and concerns of all Americans. By breaking free from the constraints of the two major parties and allowing for more competition and diversity, we can create a more representative and effective legislative body that works for everyone.

House Rules Committee

Definition and meaning of House Rules Committee: The House Rules Committee is responsible for determining the rules of debate and procedure for all bills that come before the House of Representatives. It has the power to limit or expand the scope of debate on bills, which can greatly influence the outcome of legislation. Furthermore, the Rules Committee can also limit or expand the amount of time that a bill is open for amendment. This means that the Rules Committee can effectively determine which bills are considered and which are not. The House Rules Committee is a powerful tool that is used by the two major parties to control the legislative process.


Definition and meaning of hyperpluralism: Hyperpluralism describes a political system in which multiple parties exist and compete for power, resulting in a fragmented and dispersed legislative vote. Hyperpluralism can be seen as a reform-minded challenge to the two-party system which has long held a monopoly on American politics. It is based on the concept of decentralizing political power and increasing the influence of independent candidates.

Hyperpluralism seeks to create a more level playing field for groups that have traditionally been excluded from the two-party system, such as minorities, women, and the economically disadvantaged. By giving these groups a greater say in the political process, hyperpluralism seeks to create a more equitable and representative system of government. Examples of hyperpluralism in American politics include the rise of third-party candidates in the 2016 presidential election, the increasing popularity of ballot initiatives and referendums, and the proliferation of independent political organizations.