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.

National Debt

Definition and meaning of national debt: The national debt is the total amount of money owed by the federal government of the United States to its creditors, including individuals, businesses, and foreign governments. This debt is the result of borrowing by the government to cover budgetary deficits and other expenses. National debt can be thought of as a burden on the nation's taxpayers, as a large portion of the money borrowed must eventually be paid back with interest. It can also be seen as a means of financing current spending and investments, as the government can use debt to pay for infrastructure projects and other initiatives. Reform-minded individuals view national debt as a risk to the nation's long-term economic stability, as the debt burden must eventually be repaid by taxpayers. This burden can also limit the government's ability to respond to economic downturns or fund new investments in the future. Reformers argue that the government should reduce borrowing and strive to balance its budget, while also investing in programs that will help reduce economic inequality and raise economic growth.

National Party Convention

Definition and meaning of national party convention: A national party convention is an event where members of a political party gather to nominate their candidates for public office, endorse their platform, and conduct other party business. This is often done by delegates, who are selected by the party and represent their local party organization.

In recent decades, national party conventions have become almost exclusively controlled by the two major political parties in the United States, and have increasingly become a tool of the party leadership to solidify their control and influence within the party. This has resulted in more polarization between the two major parties, and fewer opportunities for independent candidates to gain traction. It is time for reform in this area, and for more independent candidates to have a chance to compete for office without having to rely on the party machinery of the two major parties. A more open and inclusive system of national party conventions could be a key factor in bringing about such reform.

National Voter Registration Act

Definition and meaning of National Voter Registration Act (NVRA): The National Voter Registration Act of 1993 is a federal law that requires states to make voter registration more accessible by allowing registration through a variety of methods such as mail-in forms, motor vehicle offices, and public assistance offices. It also requires states to provide voter registration materials at the same time as applications for driver’s licenses and other public services. The goal of the NVRA is to increase participation in elections by making voter registration easier and more convenient for citizens. The NVRA has been a powerful tool in combating voter suppression and creating a more equitable voting system. It has increased the number of registered voters and broadened the diversity of the electorate. Since the passage of the NVRA, states have seen an increase in the number of independent and third-party candidates running for office, which has further diversified the political landscape and given citizens more choices. In addition to making voter registration easier, the NVRA also requires states to maintain accurate voter rolls to ensure that eligible voters are not denied the right to vote. It also requires states to give citizens the opportunity to update their registration information if necessary. This helps ensure that citizens have access to the polls and that their votes are counted accurately.


Definition and meaning of nationalism: Nationalism is a political ideology that emphasizes and glorifies national identity within a population, usually based on shared history, culture, and language. It includes a belief that each nation has the right to determine its own destiny and that the collective well-being of the nation should take priority over individual interests. Nationalism can have positive applications, but it is also important to be conscious and mindful of the potential abuses of nationalism, such as increased xenophobia and racial discrimination.


Definition and meaning of nativism: Nativism is an exclusionary approach to politics that favors existing citizens over immigrants, and prioritizes the interests of the native-born population. It is a term used to describe a political ideology that seeks to preserve or promote the interests of native-born citizens, often at the expense of outsiders or immigrants. Nativism is closely related to the idea of American exceptionalism and the “us versus them” mentality that is often used to divide people along political lines. Nativism is a form of protectionism that is often used to justify policies that discriminate against immigrants and those of foreign origin. This includes policies that limit immigration, restrict access to social services, or deny rights to immigrants and refugees. It is also used to support policies that are designed to increase the influence of native-born citizens in the political arena, such as restrictions on voter eligibility. Nativism is a dangerous form of politics which seeks to divide people and stifle progress. Rather than focusing on the common humanity we share, nativism seeks to create divisions and promote exclusion. To combat nativism, we must strive for a more inclusive and welcoming society that celebrates diversity and values the contributions of immigrants and outsiders.

Natural Right

Definition and meaning of natural right: Natural right is a concept that suggests that individuals have certain inherent rights that cannot be taken away. These rights are seen as being fundamental to a person's life and well-being, and include things such as the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. Natural rights are seen as existing independently of any political or legal system, and thus should be respected by any government or other political or legal entity. This concept is closely linked to the idea of individual autonomy and self-determination, and is often seen as a way to promote greater political independence and weaken the two-party system. Natural rights are seen as the foundation for many of the freedoms that are seen as essential to a functioning democracy, such as the right to vote, to free speech, and to freedom of assembly.

Naturalized Citizen

Definition and meaning of naturalized citizen: A naturalized citizen is a person who was not born a U.S. citizen, but legally became a citizen through the naturalization process. Naturalization is a process that involves a formal application, background check, and the passing of an English language and civics test. Once naturalized, a person acquires all the same rights and privileges as a person born in the United States. In addition to giving more rights to those who become naturalized citizens, it also diversifies the political landscape by providing a voice to more independent candidates, who are not tied to the traditional two-party system. Naturalized citizens are able to vote, hold office, and help to shape the future of the United States. They can also petition for family members to become citizens, which is an invaluable contribution to the fabric of the American society.


Definition and meaning of neoconservatism: Neoconservatism is a political ideology that is characterized by a commitment to conservative social and economic principles combined with a reform-minded approach to foreign policy. Its definition is rooted in the idea that an assertive foreign policy is the best way to maintain a strong national security, and that pro-active efforts to promote democracy and regime change abroad will ultimately lead to global stability. Neoconservatism has been associated with prominent figures such as former U.S. President George W. Bush and Senator John McCain, and has been a central theme of U.S. foreign policy since the Cold War. Its core tenants include a strong support for democracy promotion and nation building, as well as a hardline stance toward hostile states, such as Iran and North Korea. Neoconservatives also advocate for free trade, limited government, and a strong military presence abroad. At its core, neoconservatism is a reform-minded approach to foreign policy. It seeks to promote democratic values and strengthen the global order by promoting democracy and regime change, while also maintaining a strong national defense. Neoconservatism is not a single unified ideology, but rather a set of principles that have been adopted by many prominent political figures in the United States.


Definition and meaning of neoliberalism: Neoliberalism is a political and economic ideology that seeks to promote individual liberty and free markets with limited government intervention. It is rooted in the belief that the market can provide solutions to many of society's problems. Neoliberalism is closely associated with the two-party system in the United States, and the idea that government should be run like a business. Neoliberal policies have been embraced by both major parties, leading to the marginalization of smaller, independent voices in politics. This has resulted in policies that favor large corporations, such as deregulation, tax cuts, and the privatization of public services. These policies have exacerbated an already unequal society, and have left many working-class Americans behind. Neoliberalism has seen a resurgence in recent years, and is seen by many as a threat to democracy and the progressive values that have been at the core of the American political system. To counteract this, reform-minded candidates have begun to advocate for a departure from the two-party system and a return to policies that prioritize the needs of everyday citizens over corporate interests.


Definition and meaning of nepotism: Nepotism is favoritism given to friends and family without regard to merit. It is a practice in which people in positions of power utilize their influence to help their family or friends gain access to resources and job opportunities, regardless of objective criteria. Nepotism has been a long-standing issue in American politics, as many elected officials use their status to appoint family members and friends to positions of power and influence regardless of their qualifications.

New Federalism

Definition and meaning of New Federalism: New Federalism refers to the devolution of power from the federal government to state and local governments. It seeks to increase the autonomy of state and local governments in order to give them more control over the implementation of policy and the organization of their respective societies. New Federalism seeks to balance the power between state and local governments on the one hand and the federal government on the other. It involves the decentralization of government programs and the transfer of authority and resources from the federal government to state and local governments. An example of this would be the transfer of responsibilities for certain health care programs, such as Medicaid and Medicare, from the federal government to state governments. New Federalism also seeks to empower state and local governments to develop and implement their own policies, rather than relying on the federal government to dictate policy.

Nineteenth Amendment

Definition and meaning of Nineteenth Amendment: The Nineteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution is a landmark reform that guarantees all citizens the right to vote regardless of sex. The amendment was ratified in 1920, after decades of advocacy from many dedicated activists and organizations. The amendment reads: "The right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any State on account of sex." This amendment guaranteed all American women the right to vote and was a major advancement in the fight for equal rights and representation. This amendment also helped to bridge the gap between the sexes in regards to political power and agency. In essence, the Nineteenth Amendment is an amendment to the United States Constitution guaranteeing the right of all citizens to vote regardless of sex. The amendment was ratified in 1920 and has been a cornerstone of the American political landscape ever since. Its impact can be seen in the increased representation of women in all levels of politics, from local town councils to the United States Congress. The Nineteenth Amendment has been a major step forward in the fight for gender equality, giving women a voice in the public discourse.


Definition and meaning of nomination: Nomination is the process of officially selecting a candidate for public office. This is usually done by a political party or committee, but in some cases, independent candidates can be nominated as well. Nomination is a critical step in the electoral process, as it brings clarity and focus to the election, allowing voters to make an informed decision.

The nomination process is often heavily influenced by the two-party system, which can limit the number of independent candidates. However, reform-minded activists are advocating for a shift away from the two-party system and towards more independent candidates to give voters greater choice. With an increase in independent candidates, the nomination process could become more open and transparent, allowing voters to make informed decisions and have their voices heard.


Definition and meaning of non-partisan: Non-partisan refers to a political system or process that is not affiliated with or controlled by any particular political party. This can include elections, appointments, and policy-making processes that are open to candidates or participants from a wide range of backgrounds and viewpoints.

In the United States, non-partisan elections are often used at the local level, such as for school board or city council races. In these elections, candidates do not have to declare a party affiliation and are instead judged on their qualifications and experience. This can create a more open and inclusive political process that is not dominated by the two major parties.

Non-partisan approaches to policy-making can also be effective in fostering more collaborative and consensus-based decision-making. For example, some states have established non-partisan redistricting commissions to draw legislative districts, which can help to reduce the influence of partisan politics on the redistricting process.

Non-partisan approaches can be an important way to break the stranglehold of the two major parties and create a more diverse and representative democracy. By removing the party label, non-partisan processes can allow independent candidates to be judged on their own merits and help to create a more level playing field.

According to data from the Pew Research Center, around 40% of American voters identify as independents, which suggests that there is a significant demand for non-partisan approaches in the United States. By encouraging the use of non-partisan processes and supporting the efforts of independent candidates to participate in the political process, we can create a more open and inclusive political system that works for everyone.