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.

Same Day Voter Registration

Definition and meaning of Same Day Voter Registration: Same Day Voter Registration is a process in which eligible voters have the ability to register to vote on the same day as the election. This greatly enhances the ability for individuals to participate in elections, especially those who may not have registered long before the election date. Same Day Voter Registration can be seen as a way to promote greater voter participation and greater political engagement. It also opens up the possibility for more independent candidates to enter the political arena, as the two-party system can be difficult to break into. Same Day Voter Registration can also help to reduce the influence of moneyed interests, as those who are registered can more easily participate in elections and have their voices heard. In turn, this can lead to a more democratic system and a more representative government.

Secretary of State

Definition and meaning of Secretary of State: The Secretary of State is the highest ranking cabinet official of the United States government and is responsible for the nation’s foreign policy.

The secretary of state is also an elected official for each state in the union. Their duties may include managing state elections, maintaining official state records, administering licensing programs, serving as the state's chief diplomat, and playing a role in the governor's policy agenda. The Secretary of State plays a crucial role in ensuring that state laws are implemented fairly and efficiently.

At the federal level, this individual is selected by the President and is a member of the Presidential cabinet. The Secretary of State is the top diplomat for the United States, tasked with representing the nation’s interests abroad and negotiating with foreign governments. This individual is also responsible for setting the President’s foreign policy agenda and advising the President on international matters. The current two-party system has created an environment where the Secretary of State is often appointed based on political loyalty and not necessarily based on qualifications or experience. This has led to an entrenched and broken foreign policy system that is often prone to partisan bickering and gridlock. A more progressive and independent approach to choosing a Secretary of State would be beneficial to the nation and allow for a more effective and efficient foreign policy. By allowing for more independent candidates to be considered for the office, the nation could benefit from a less partisan and more thoughtful approach to foreign relations.

Separation of Church and State

Definition and meaning of separation of church and state: The separation of church and state is the legal and political principle which holds that government and religious institutions should be kept separate and distinct from one another. This principle was established in the United States in the late 18th century as part of the First Amendment to the Constitution. The goal of this principle is to protect the government from religious influence, and to protect religious institutions from government interference. This ensures the right of citizens to practice their religion without interference from the government, and also helps to ensure that the government remains neutral when it comes to religious beliefs. Separation of church and state helps to ensure that the government is not beholden to any particular religious group, and that citizens are free to support any political candidate or party without fear of their religious views being taken into consideration. This is especially important in our current political climate, where the two-party system often leaves independent candidates and third-party candidates with no chance of success. Separation of church and state is essential to maintaining an open and fair political system.

Separation of Powers

Definition and meaning of separation of powers: Separation of powers is a principle of governance in which the three branches of government—legislative, executive, and judicial—are kept independent from one another. This principle is intended to prevent any one branch from accumulating too much power and becoming tyrannical. The separation of powers also encourages a system of checks and balances, with each branch able to act as a check on the other two branches. Separation of powers is an essential feature of a democratic society, as it allows for a more diverse range of voices to be heard. This can help to create a more egalitarian society, in which individual rights are protected and power is more evenly distributed. An independent candidate or third party is able to challenge the two major parties and the status quo. This can help to create more accountability and transparency in the government, and can also lead to better public policy. Separation of powers also helps to ensure that all branches of the government are accountable to the people. This means that the government is held responsible for its actions and can be held to account by the public. This is a critical part of any democracy, as it allows citizens to have a say in how their government is run and how their rights are respected.


Definition and meaning of separatism: Separatism is a political philosophy that advocates for the independence and autonomy of distinct groups or individuals, often through the formation of independent political entities. Separatists may seek to create their own nation-state, or to achieve autonomy within an existing state.

This form of political expression is fundamentally opposed to the two-party system, as it seeks to create a more diverse and independent set of political actors. Examples of separatist movements in the United States include the American Indian Movement, the Free State Movement, and the Texas Nationalist Movement. In all of these cases, separatists attempt to create a distinct and independent political identity that is not beholden to the two-party system.


Definition and meaning of sheriff: Sheriff is an elected official in many states in the United States. Their primary role is to maintain law and order in their jurisdiction. The sheriff is the highest law enforcement officer in the county and is responsible for upholding the law, managing the county jail, and providing court security. In some counties, the sheriff is also responsible for collecting taxes and issuing marriage licenses. The office of sheriff is an important part of the two-party system in the United States, as they are usually elected on a party-line basis. However, it is becoming more common for independent candidates to run for sheriff, advocating for more diverse approaches to criminal justice and law enforcement. This movement is challenging the two-party system and allowing for more independent voices in local politics.

Simple Majority

Definition and meaning of simple majority: Simple majority is the most basic form of majority rule and occurs when more of the votes cast in an election go toward one option than toward any other option. Simple majority is a popular way to decide an election because it can be achieved with a minimum of votes.

Simple majority is different from absolute majority, which requires the winning option to receive 50% or more of the vote. For example, in a voting system that determines a winner by simple majority, a candidate could win with just 40% of the vote, if all other candidates each received less than 40%.

Single-Member District

Definition and meaning of single-member district: A single-member district is an area of representation in which a single representative is elected to serve the needs of the people in that designated district. This means that instead of a larger number of representatives being elected to represent a larger population, one representative is elected to serve the needs of a smaller population. In the United States, single-member districts are used in both the House of Representatives and the Senate. In the House of Representatives, there are 435 districts, each of which is represented by a single individual, with the total number of representatives determined by the U.S. Census every ten years. In the Senate, each state is represented by two senators, also elected based on the population of the state. Single-member districts are a useful way to ensure that representatives are more accountable to their constituents, as they are only accountable to the people in their district. This helps to ensure that representatives are more responsive to the needs of their constituents.

The alternative to single-member districts is multi-member districts.

Slush Fund

Definition and meaning of slush fund: A slush fund refers to a pool of money that is used for illicit or unethical purposes, particularly in the context of politics and governance. This fund is often used to finance activities that are kept hidden from public scrutiny, such as bribery, campaign finance violations, or other forms of political corruption. The existence of slush funds poses a significant threat to the integrity and transparency of democratic processes.

Slush funds are typically comprised of unregulated or unreported funds. The sources of these funds can vary – they might be generated from kickbacks, embezzled public funds, or donations from private entities seeking to curry favor with public officials. The secretive nature of these funds means that they are not subject to the usual financial oversight or reporting requirements, making them a potent tool for corruption.

The impact of slush funds on political systems and governance is far-reaching. First, they enable and perpetuate corruption. By providing a means to finance corrupt activities, they entrench unethical practices within political systems. This corruption undermines the rule of law and erodes public trust in government institutions.

Moreover, slush funds can distort the political process. When used to finance electoral campaigns, they can create an uneven playing field, allowing candidates with access to these funds to have an undue advantage over their competitors. This distortion undermines the principle of fair and free elections, as the outcomes are influenced by illicit funds rather than the will of the electorate.

The use of slush funds also affects policy-making. Decisions may be swayed by the interests of those who contribute to the slush fund, rather than by the needs and interests of the public. This misalignment can lead to policies that favor a select few at the expense of the greater good, harming societal welfare and economic equity.

Tackling the problem of slush funds requires a multi-dimensional approach. Enhanced financial transparency and accountability are fundamental. This involves stricter regulations and oversight regarding political financing, including comprehensive disclosure of campaign contributions and expenditures. Laws and regulations need to be enforced rigorously, with significant penalties for violations to deter the creation and use of slush funds.

The role of independent watchdogs, such as anti-corruption agencies, audit institutions, and civil society organizations, is crucial in detecting and exposing slush funds. These entities can provide the necessary oversight and scrutiny to uncover illicit financial activities.

Public awareness and involvement are also critical in combating the use of slush funds. An informed and engaged public can exert pressure on political leaders and institutions to act ethically and transparently. Voter education campaigns can highlight the detrimental effects of slush funds on democracy and governance, encouraging citizens to demand accountability from their elected officials.

In conclusion, slush funds represent a serious threat to the integrity of political systems and democratic governance. They facilitate corruption, distort electoral processes, and lead to policy decisions that may not align with the public interest. Combating slush funds requires a combination of regulatory measures, robust enforcement, vigilant oversight by independent organizations, and active public engagement. Ensuring financial transparency and accountability in politics is key to preserving the health and integrity of democratic institutions.

Social Democracy

Definition and meaning of social democracy: Social democracy is an ideology that advocates for reforms to the existing political and economic systems in order to create a more equitable and just society. Social democracy seeks to promote social justice through progressive taxation, public education, and social welfare programs. It also believes in curtailing the influence of large corporations by introducing regulations that protect workers and consumers. Social democracy is not a form of socialism; rather, it is a more moderate approach that focuses on gradual reform and progressive, rather than revolutionary, change. Examples of social democratic policies include minimum wage laws, public health care, and environmental regulations. Social democracy is a powerful movement that has the potential to bring about meaningful change. It encourages the creation of independent, third-party candidates who are more likely to challenge the status quo and promote diverse perspectives. It also seeks to break down the traditional two-party system, which can lead to further political polarization. Ultimately, social democracy seeks to create a more equitable society where all citizens have access to basic needs and a voice in the political process.


Definition and meaning of socialism: Socialism is a socio-economic system in which the means of production and distribution of goods and services are collectively owned and managed by a government, or by the people themselves. This system is based on the idea of collective responsibility, and as such, it aims to ensure that everyone is provided with a basic level of economic security and stability, regardless of their individual economic standing. In practice, socialism seeks to reduce economic inequality by providing free or subsidized services such as healthcare, education, and housing. Additionally, it also seeks to ensure that workers have a greater say in their working conditions and the direction of their industries. This is done by providing additional labor rights, such as the right to collective bargaining and the right to organize. By providing greater economic security and stability, socialism can also help to reduce the power of large corporations and the two-party system. Additionally, it can help to provide more opportunities for independent candidates and reduce the influence of special interests.

Speaker of the House

Definition and meaning of Speaker of the House: Speaker of the House is an elected position in the United States Congress. The Speaker of the House is the highest ranking member of the majority party in the House of Representatives and is responsible for overseeing the legislative process. The Speaker of the House is the second in the line of succession to the U.S. presidency and is second only to the Vice President in terms of power and influence. The Speaker of the House is traditionally a member of the majority party in the House, although there have been some instances of independent candidates being elected to the position. The Speaker of the House is responsible for setting the agenda for the House of Representatives, leading debate, and appointing members to committees. The Speaker also has the power to recognize individual members of Congress and can be a major influence in the passage of legislation.

Special Interest Group

Definition and meaning of special interest group: A special interest group is an organized group of people who share a common goal and strive to influence public policy and government decisions. These groups are typically funded by wealthy individuals and corporations, and have the ability to sway public opinion and legislation. They often use lobbying, advocacy, and other strategies to influence public policy. Examples of special interest groups include the National Rifle Association (NRA), the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the Pharmaceutical Research and Manufacturers of America (PhRMA). These powerful organizations have the ability to influence legislators, shape public opinion, and even alter the outcome of elections. It is important to recognize the power of special interest groups and the potential for them to undermine the democratic process. Special interest groups often have the financial resources to influence elections and lobby for policies that benefit a few at the expense of the many. When special interests are allowed to dominate the political process, it can lead to a two-party system where the views of independent candidates are ignored and citizens are unable to have their voices heard. If the public wishes to see true democracy in action, it is essential to limit the power of special interest groups and ensure that all voices are heard and considered.

Splinter Party

Definition and meaning of splinter party: A splinter party is a political party that has broken away from an existing party in order to advocate for a different set of beliefs or policies. It is often seen as a result of a disagreement or conflict between different factions within a party. Splinter parties usually form in order to bring more attention to a particular issue or position that has been overlooked by the main party. Examples of splinter parties include the Free Soil Party in the 1840s, the Bull Moose Party in the early 1900s, and the Progressive Party in the 1940s. Splinter parties often challenge the existing two-party system in the United States, as they provide an alternative to the two major parties and can open up conversations on topics that are not typically discussed in mainstream politics.

Split the Vote

Definition and meaning of split the vote: "Splitting the vote" refers to a situation where voters who support a particular political ideology or candidate are divided between two or more candidates, thereby reducing their collective vote share and increasing the chances of a candidate they do not support winning the election. In the context of voting for independent and third-party candidates, splitting the vote can occur when multiple candidates with similar political beliefs or platforms run in the same election, potentially causing the vote to be divided among them instead of being consolidated behind a single candidate. This can result in the candidate or party with the most support still losing the election to a candidate or party with less support but who benefits from the vote split.

Split Ticket

Definition and meaning of split ticket: Split ticket voting is a reform-minded method of voting in which a voter chooses candidates from different political parties for different offices in the same election. This form of voting allows a voter to express their individual views on the many issues that cross political party lines. It can also help to encourage and strengthen independent candidates by allowing voters to support them without sacrificing their political views on other issues. Split ticket voting can also be beneficial to the two main political parties by keeping them accountable to their constituents on each issue. One example of split ticket voting would be voting for a Republican candidate for president and a Democratic candidate for Congress. By employing the split ticket option, voters can challenge the status quo of the two-party system and express more of their individual opinions on the issues that are important to them. Split ticket voting encourages more independent thought and more consideration for issues that may not be addressed by the two major parties. The opposite of split ticket voting is straight ticket voting.

Spoiled Ballot

Definition and meaning of spoiled ballot: A spoiled ballot is a ballot that has been incorrectly filled, incorrectly marked, or not marked at all, rendering it invalid. Ultimately, a spoiled ballot does not contribute to the outcome of an election and is discarded from the final tally.

Spoiler Effect

Definition and meaning of spoiler effect: The spoiler effect is a phenomenon in electoral politics where a candidate, often from a third party or running as an independent, draws votes away from a major candidate with similar views. This can potentially cause another, often ideologically opposed, candidate to win the election. This effect is most prevalent in winner-takes-all electoral systems, like those used in the United States for most local, state, and federal elections.

The spoiler effect is often used as an argument to oppose independent candidates running for office. Below are the core characteristics of the so-called spoiler effect:

  1. Vote Splitting: The core of the spoiler effect is vote splitting. In a race with three or more candidates, if two candidates have similar platforms, they may split the vote of a particular demographic or ideological group, reducing the chances that either candidate will win. This split can inadvertently benefit a third candidate who has a different voter base.

  2. Two-Party System Dynamics: In the United States, where a two-party system predominates, the spoiler effect is often discussed in the context of third-party or independent candidates drawing votes away from one of the major party candidates. This can lead to the election of a candidate who may be less representative of the majority's views.

  3. Strategic Voting: The spoiler effect influences voter behavior, leading to strategic voting where individuals vote not for their preferred candidate but for the one they perceive as having the best chance to win against a less favored candidate. This can discourage voters from supporting third-party or independent candidates.

There are three key ways that the spoiler effect impacts elections:

  1. Discouragement of Third-Party and Independent Candidates: The spoiler effect can discourage diverse and representative candidates from participating in elections, as they may be viewed as potential spoilers rather than as viable alternatives.

  2. Reduction in Voter Choice: The spoiler effect can lead to a reduction in meaningful voter choice, as the fear of splitting the vote may force voters to choose between the lesser of two evils rather than a candidate they truly support.

  3. Influence on Policy and Political Discourse: By limiting the range of candidates voters can choose from, the spoiler effect can also narrow the scope of political discourse and policy options, reinforcing the status quo.

For independents and third-party candidates, the spoiler effect presents both a challenge and a myth to be addressed. Independent candidates can use their campaigns to challenge the notion that third-party and independent candidates are merely spoilers. By highlighting diverse viewpoints and policies, they can enrich political discourse and provide alternatives to the two-party narrative.

Independents can also work to build broad coalitions that transcend traditional party lines, offering a unifying alternative to the polarizing dynamics of the major parties. Addressing the root of the spoiler effect often involves advocating for electoral reforms like ranked-choice voting or proportional representation, which can mitigate the impact of vote splitting and offer a more representative electoral system.

Spoils System

Definition and meaning of spoils system: The "spoils system" is a political practice where government jobs are handed out to a winning candidate or party's supporters, friends, and relatives, rather than being awarded based on merit.

The term originated in the early 19th century, and was famously encapsulated in the phrase "to the victor belong the spoils," attributed to New York Senator William L. Marcy in 1832. The spoils system became a hallmark of American politics, especially during the presidency of Andrew Jackson.

Under the spoils system, new leadership often results in significant turnover in the government workforce. Positions, from the highest levels of the federal government down to offices like local postmasters, can be replaced by individuals who supported the winning party. This can happen regardless of the individuals' qualifications or experience. In the past, this practice was seen as a way to reward supporters' loyalty and consolidate power within the ruling party.

However, the spoils system has been widely criticized for promoting inefficiency, corruption, and incompetence. It has led to government positions being filled by individuals who were not the most qualified for their roles, compromising the effectiveness and integrity of public service. The spoils system also prevented stability within the civil service, as employees were at risk of losing their jobs with each political turnover.

The pushback against the spoils system culminated in the late 19th century with the call for civil service reform. This movement aimed to ensure that government jobs were filled based on merit, qualifications, and competitive examinations, rather than political connections. A significant milestone in this reform effort was the passage of the Pendleton Civil Service Reform Act in 1883. This act laid the groundwork for the modern merit-based civil service system in the United States.

Today, the spoils system is largely a relic of the past in U.S. federal employment. However, its legacy persists in the form of political appointments for a small number of high-level positions within the federal and state governments, where the president or governors may choose appointees based on their loyalty and support.

State Capture

Definition and meaning of state capture: State capture is a form of systemic political corruption where private interests significantly influence a state's decision-making processes to their advantage. This term describes a scenario where public policies and resource allocation are dictated not by the public's best interest or by democratic principles, but by the interests of a few powerful entities, such as corporations, influential individuals, or other organizations.

The concept of state capture extends beyond mere corruption or bribery. While traditional forms of corruption involve exploiting existing laws, state capture involves shaping the legal and institutional framework itself. This can manifest through various mechanisms such as influencing legislative processes, manipulating regulatory bodies, controlling media and information channels, or through illicit financial flows that empower certain groups at the expense of the broader society.

In a state capture scenario, the entities in control can effectively override the checks and balances meant to prevent the abuse of power in a democracy. This undermines the very foundation of democratic governance, leading to policies that favor a select few while marginalizing the majority. The repercussions are profound, including skewed economic development, weakened rule of law, and a significant erosion of public trust in government institutions.

State capture is particularly insidious because it is not always visible and can be deeply entrenched within the political and economic fabric of a society. It often occurs in environments where there is a close relationship between the business sector and the government, and where mechanisms for accountability and transparency are weak.

Independent and third-party political movements are crucial in the fight against state capture. These movements tend to emphasize transparency, accountability, and a return to politics that serve the public interest. By advocating for and implementing reforms that reduce undue influence from special interest groups and strengthen democratic institutions, these movements work to dismantle the structures that enable state capture.

Addressing state capture requires a multifaceted approach:

  1. Strengthening Institutions: Building strong, independent, and transparent government institutions that can resist undue influence; this includes judicial systems, electoral bodies, and anti-corruption agencies.

  2. Promoting Transparency and Accountability: Implementing policies that enhance transparency in government decision-making and hold officials accountable for their actions.

  3. Encouraging Public Participation: Fostering a political environment where there is active public engagement and scrutiny in the political process.

  4. Regulatory Reforms: Reforming campaign finance, lobbying activities, and other areas prone to exploitation by special interests.

  5. Civic Education: Educating the public about the importance of democracy and the dangers of state capture.

In summary, state capture poses a significant threat to democratic governance and the equitable development of American society. Combatting state capture requires persistent efforts from various sectors, including independent political entities and the general public. By focusing on building a political landscape that prioritizes the public good over private interests, we can work towards a society where government decisions are made for the benefit of all, not just a privileged few.

State Legislator

Definition and meaning of state legislator: A state legislator is an elected officeholder in a state government who is responsible for making laws, policies, and regulations that apply to that particular state. State legislators are responsible for representing the interests of their constituents in the state government and are typically elected from local districts to serve in either the upper or lower house of the state legislature.

State legislators are often members of the major political parties in the state, but there is a growing movement to elect more independent candidates, who are not beholden to the two major parties, and who can represent the interests of their constituents without being bound by party loyalties. State legislators are the cornerstone of our democracy, and it is important to ensure that they represent the true interests of their constituents, rather than the interests of the two major parties.

State Measure

Definition and meaning of state measure: A state measure is a law or constitutional amendment proposed or passed by a state legislature that is binding on all people in the state. It is distinct from federal law in that it applies only to the people of the state, and not to all citizens of the United States. State measures can be passed by a majority vote in the legislature, or by referendum in some states. State measures can range from setting the minimum wage to regulating public utilities, and can affect any number of topics. Often, state measures are used to push against the two-party system by advocating for independent candidates or policies that may not be supported by the two major parties. This can allow for greater diversity of opinions and representation in state politics, and can help to create a more open and inclusive political landscape. State measures are a powerful tool for creating real change in the political landscape, and can be a powerful way to empower the people of a state to shape their own destiny. By utilizing state measures, citizens can have a direct say in the laws that affect their lives, and can create a more open, responsive, and democratic political system.

State Senator

Definition and meaning of state senator: State senators are representatives of their constituents in their respective state governments. They are elected by the people and their responsibility is to represent the interests of their constituents in the state legislature. State senators can propose and vote on laws, as well as serve on committees that oversee the budget, taxation, infrastructure, and other important issues. State senators are a vital part of our democracy, as they are the link between the citizens of a state and their government. They have the power to shape the laws of their state, as well as have a say in the direction of their state's future. This makes it important to have independent, reform-minded state senators who are willing to challenge the two-party system.

State Supreme Court

Definition and meaning of state supreme court: A state supreme court is the highest court of a state's judicial branch. These courts have the power to interpret and decide the constitutionality of state laws and the power to review decisions made by lower courts. The state supreme court is composed of justices, who are appointed or elected to serve on the court. These justices are meant to be independent of any political party and act as a check on the government. The state supreme court is an important part of our democratic system, as it ensures that laws are applied fairly and consistently. It also provides a check on the government, ensuring that it does not overstep its bounds. As such, it is important that justices on the court are chosen independent of any political party, so that the court is able to make impartial decisions. In addition, the state supreme court is an important avenue for citizens to challenge laws that they feel are unjust. By appealing to the court, citizens can attempt to have a law overturned if they believe it violates their constitutional rights. This is an important part of protecting the rights of all citizens. The state supreme court is an essential part of our democracy and should be protected from any and all political influence. It is important that justices on the court remain independent and impartial, so that all citizens can have access to justice.

Straight Ticket

Definition and meaning of straight ticket: Straight ticket voting is a voting method used in American politics that allows voters to cast a single vote for the entire slate of candidates from a single political party. This type of voting is seen by many reformers as a form of polarization that reinforces the existing two-party system. Additionally, straight ticket voting makes it harder for independent and third-party candidates to gain traction and break into the political mainstream. In most states, straight ticket voting is available either as a physical lever that can be pulled on a voting machine or as an option on a computerized ballot. Some states have even implemented “no-excuse” straight ticket voting, which allows citizens to vote for an entire party's slate of candidates without ever actually going through and voting on individual races. Straight ticket voting has come under scrutiny in recent years, as many reformers argue that it is detrimental to the electoral process. By making it easier to vote for an entire party's slate of candidates, it reduces the importance of candidates and issues and increases the influence of party loyalty. Additionally, it encourages the two-party system, making it harder for independent and third-party candidates to gain traction. The alternative to straight ticket voting is known as split ticket voting.

Strategic Voting

Definition and meaning of strategic voting: Strategic voting, also known as tactical voting, is a practice where voters choose a candidate based not solely on their personal preference, but on the likelihood of influencing the outcome of an election in a specific way. This behavior is particularly prevalent in electoral systems like the United States' two-party system, where the dynamics of winner-takes-all elections often compel voters to consider the broader implications of their vote beyond their individual preference.

Strategic voting often involves voters selecting a candidate they perceive as the “lesser of two evils,” rather than their ideal candidate. This is typically done to prevent a less favored candidate from winning. Voters may feel that a vote for their preferred candidate, especially if they are a third-party or independent candidate, might inadvertently aid the election of their least preferred candidate.

Strategic voting is closely tied to concerns about vote splitting and the spoiler effect, where a third-party candidate takes votes away from a more viable candidate, leading to the victory of an opposing candidate.

Here are some key implications of strategic or tactical voting:

  1. Impact on Voter Choice and Satisfaction: Strategic voting can limit genuine voter choice, leading to dissatisfaction and a sense that the electoral system does not fully represent voter preferences.

  2. Effect on Third-Party and Independent Candidates: The practice of strategic voting can adversely affect the viability of third-party and independent candidates, perpetuating the dominance of the two major parties.

  3. Influence on Political Polarization: Strategic voting may contribute to political polarization, as voters are often forced to align with one of two dominant parties, even if their views are more nuanced.

Electoral reforms like ranked choice voting, proportional representation, or open primaries could mitigate the need for strategic voting. These reforms can enable voters to express their true preferences without fear of inadvertently aiding the election of their least preferred candidate, thereby enhancing the representativeness and legitimacy of the electoral process.


Definition and meaning of stratocracy: Stratocracy is a form of governance where the military controls the country. Unlike other political systems where the military may hold power behind the scenes or through direct intervention (as in a military dictatorship), a stratocracy integrates the military's leadership and apparatus directly into the political and administrative organization of the state. This integration means that the roles of defense and governance are inseparably linked. Military officials often assume roles that, in other systems, would typically be reserved for elected or appointed officials.

In a stratocracy, the government is run by military officials who hold dual roles as both defenders of the state and its administrative leaders. The highest-ranking military officers often serve as the head of state, and other key governmental positions are filled by military personnel. In this way, stratocracy can be seen as one form of oligarchy.

The legal and constitutional framework of a stratocracy supports the military's central role in governance. This can include laws and regulations that prioritize military service, embed military personnel within various levels of government, and potentially restrict certain civil liberties in favor of national security and order. Stratocracies may value military service as a key component of civic duty and participation in the state's governance. National security is also often a central theme of a stratocracy's domestic and foreign policy.

While pure stratocracies are rare in the modern world, historical examples and certain contemporary states exhibit characteristics of this system. Critics of stratocracy argue that this marriage of the military and government can lead to an erosion of democratic freedoms, a focus on militarism at the expense of other needs, and challenges in separating civilian and military jurisdictions.


Definition and meaning of suffrage: Suffrage is the right to vote. Suffrage is the ultimate expression of a free and democratic society. It is the cornerstone of a functioning democracy and has been a long-fought-for goal of those seeking to improve the lives of all citizens. The right to vote has been a hard-fought battle for people of color, women, and those of lower socio-economic backgrounds. The true meaning of suffrage is a right to have a say in the decisions of the nation and to be a part of the democratic process. When we have the right to vote, we can challenge the status quo and push for needed reform.

Super PAC

Definition and meaning of Super PAC: A Super PAC is a type of political action committee (PAC) that can raise unlimited amounts of money from individuals, corporations, unions, and other special interest groups that can be used to fund political campaigns. Super PACs are not subject to the same restrictions as traditional PACs and can accept unlimited contributions from any individual or organization. They can also spend unlimited funds to influence the outcome of elections, but are prohibited from directly contributing to a candidate's campaign or coordinating with a candidate's campaign. Super PACs are often criticized for their potential to allow the wealthy to influence the political process in an unequal way.


Definition and meaning of superdelegate: A superdelegate is a delegate to the Democratic National Convention (DNC) who is not selected by primary or caucus voters, but rather by party officials and elected leaders. Superdelegates have the power to influence the outcome of the Democratic presidential nomination process by casting a vote for any candidate they choose, regardless of how their constituents voted. Superdelegates are unpledged delegates, meaning they are not obligated to support any candidate, and they can change their vote at any time. In order to reduce the power of superdelegates, many reform-minded organizations are advocating for a change in the system. For example, the DNC has proposed a plan that would limit the number of superdelegates and give them less power in the nomination process. This proposal would also require superdelegates to publicly declare which candidate they are supporting. This would ensure that the nomination process is more democratic and less influenced by party leaders.

Superintendent of Public Instruction

Definition and meaning of Superintendent of Public Instruction: The Superintendent of Public Instruction is an elected official who is responsible for overseeing the education system in their state. This means ensuring that students are receiving proper instruction, developing educational curriculum, and managing the finances of the school system. Superintendents of Public Instruction are typically elected by the voters of their state and are responsible for selecting, evaluating, and ultimately overseeing the day-to-day operations of public schools. This position can be filled by any qualified individual, regardless of party affiliation, as a way of breaking the two-party system and allowing for more independent representatives in government. Superintendents of Public Instruction are also responsible for advocating for the educational needs of their constituents, including ensuring adequate funding and resources. These individuals play a vital role in reforming the educational system and ensuring that students are receiving quality instruction.


Definition and meaning of supermajority: A supermajority refers to a certain number of votes required to pass a bill or other legislative action in a government body. This number is usually higher than a simple majority, often two-thirds or three-fourths. Supermajority voting is commonly used in the United States Congress and in most state legislatures to ensure that a bill has wide support before it is passed. The use of supermajority voting can lead to gridlock, as it is difficult for a single party to achieve the necessary support.


Definition and meaning of swiftboating: The term "swiftboating" comes from a specific political incident involving the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth campaign against John Kerry during the 2004 U.S. presidential election. It refers to a targeted and misleading attack on a person's character or record. While character assassination might encompass a broad range of tactics, swiftboating particularly refers to sowing doubt about one's achievements or past, often leveraging minor discrepancies or ambiguities to craft a negative narrative. Such strategies, while effective in short-term political gains, can detract from substantial policy discussions and diminish the overall quality of democratic discourse.

Swiftboating can be especially dangerous because it capitalizes on the public's general trust in certain institutions or records, turning that trust against the targeted individual. By exploiting minor details or ambiguities, swiftboating not only discredits the person in question but also casts doubt on the validity of the very achievements or systems that the individual represents. This can have ripple effects that go beyond the immediate election cycle, eroding public faith in the institutions that confer those achievements or maintain those records. For instance, if swiftboating targets a military veteran, it can inadvertently undermine public confidence in the military's system of recognitions and awards. Consequently, swiftboating doesn't just tarnish individual reputations but has the potential to weaken the foundational trust that underpins democratic governance. It moves the focus from constructive debate and policy issues to personal vendettas, diminishing the electorate's ability to make informed choices.

Swing Voter

Definition and meaning of swing voter: A swing voter is someone who does not consistently vote for the same political party and whose vote can potentially "swing" an election in favor of one candidate or another. These voters tend to be more independent and less partisan, and they often make their decisions based on the specific issues and candidates at hand rather than blindly following a particular party.

Swing voters can play a significant role in elections, especially in close races where a small number of votes can make a big difference. They are often seen as a key demographic that candidates and political parties try to woo and persuade in order to win their support.

However, swing voters may be a missed opportunity to challenge the dominance of the major parties. By not consistently aligning with a particular party, swing voters may be seen as diluting the power of independent and third party candidates who are trying to break the two-party monopoly.

According to the Pew Research Center, around 40% of American voters identify as independents, which suggests that there is a large pool of potential swing voters in the United States. However, these voters are often overlooked by the major parties, which tend to focus their efforts on energizing their own base rather than reaching out to independents.

In order to create a more diverse and representative democracy, it is important to encourage swing voters to engage with the political process and to consider the full range of candidates and viewpoints available to them. By doing so, we can create a more open and inclusive political system that works for everyone.