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.

Tax Commissioner

Definition and meaning of tax commissioner: In the United States, a Tax Commissioner is an elected or appointed official who is responsible for overseeing tax collection and administration for a state or local government. The specific duties of the Tax Commissioner vary from state to state, but generally include collecting taxes, administering tax laws and regulations, and enforcing compliance with tax codes.

Several states have an elected Tax Commissioner as part of their state government. The exact title and responsibilities of the Tax Commissioner may vary by state, but in general, they play a key role in overseeing tax collection and ensuring that tax laws are enforced fairly and effectively.

Some states that have an elected Tax Commissioner include Georgia, West Virginia, Oklahoma, and Nebraska. However, it's important to note that this list may not be comprehensive and that some states may have an appointed Tax Commissioner instead of an elected one. Additionally, some states may use different titles, such as Tax Assessor or Tax Collector, to refer to the official responsible for tax administration.

Tea Party

Definition and meaning of Tea Party: The Tea Party is a conservative political movement in the United States that emerged in 2009. It is largely made up of grassroots members who advocate limited government fiscal responsibility, free markets, and constitutionalism. Tea Party members have been involved in various political campaigns and have had a significant impact on the Republican Party. It is a reaction to the perceived increase in government spending, taxation, and regulation over the past decade. Tea Party members are generally socially and fiscally conservative and support smaller government, opposition to government bailouts and deficits, and opposition to the Affordable Care Act. They often express concern about the national debt and government overreach. Examples of Tea Party initiatives include support for gun rights, opposition to immigration reform, and opposition to the Common Core educational standards.

Term Limits

Definition and meaning of term limits: Term limits are the restriction of the number of consecutive terms an individual may serve in an elected office. This limitation is often used to protect the public from career politicians who are more interested in their own personal and financial interests than in improving the lives of their constituents. It also serves to create more competition for elected positions, leading to a more diverse, independent candidate pool. This in turn leads to greater accountability and more responsiveness to the needs and desires of constituents. Term limits also open up the political process to more citizens who may not have otherwise considered running for office, as well as to those with fresh ideas who may be able to bring more diversity to the legislative process. Ultimately, term limits create a healthier, more vibrant democracy and promote more independent candidates.

Text Banking

Definition and meaning of text banking: Text banking is a form of voter outreach. Text banking involves sending text messages to potential voters, donors, or other target audiences. As with phone banking, text banking serves multiple purposes but is adapted to the brief, direct nature of text communication.

Several advantages make text banking particularly useful:

  • Immediacy: Text messages are typically read soon after receipt, making them effective for timely reminders, such as voting day alerts.

  • Efficiency: Campaigns can reach a vast audience in a short time, especially with automated systems.

  • Interactive: With the right tools, text banking can facilitate two-way communication, allowing recipients to ask questions, clarify doubts, or sign up to volunteer.

  • High Engagement: Text messages tend to have higher open and engagement rates than emails.

Some typical uses of text banking include:

  • Reminders: Alerting voters about registration deadlines, upcoming events, or election days.

  • Mobilization: Encouraging recipients to participate in campaign events or volunteer actions.

  • Education: Briefly highlighting a candidate's stance or directing recipients to more comprehensive resources.

  • Data Collection: Surveying recipients or gathering feedback.

  • Fundraising: Soliciting donations or informing supporters of fundraising events.

It's vital that campaigns ensure they have the necessary permissions to text individuals and that they provide clear options for recipients to opt-out.

In the landscape of political outreach, text banking reflects the adaptation of campaigns to evolving communication norms. When approached ethically, respecting privacy and avoiding spam-like behaviors, text banking can be an effective tool for fostering engagement and participation in the democratic process.

Think Tank

Definition and meaning of think tank: A think tank is an institution that researches and provides policy advice on political and social issues, with the goal of influencing public opinion and policy decisions. Think tanks are generally independent of government and corporate interests, and bring together experts from a variety of disciplines to develop solutions to complex challenges. Some think tanks are ideologically based, while others are nonpartisan and independent.

For example, the Democracy Fund, a nonpartisan organization, works to increase public participation in the political process and strengthen democratic institutions. Similarly, the Center for American Progress promotes progressive policies and seeks to bridge the gap between the government and the public.

Third Party

Definition and meaning of third party: A third party is a political organization that is not affiliated with either of the two major political parties in the United States, the Democratic Party or the Republican Party. A third-party candidate is someone who is running for office outside of the two major parties. Third parties are typically more reform-minded and are often seen as a way to challenge the status quo of the two-party system. Third parties have gained more recognition in recent years, with the emergence of the People's Party, Libertarian Party, and Green Party. These parties are often formed to advocate for different ideologies and platforms than those of the major parties. They can help to fill the gaps in the political spectrum that are often overlooked by the major parties. In addition to these established third parties, there are also often independent candidates who are running outside of any party. These candidates are often motivated to run to represent the views of those who are not accurately represented by the major parties. Third parties are a key part of a healthy democracy because they give citizens more choice and offer a platform for reform. They can help to bridge the gap between the major parties and cater to the needs of minority groups. This can help to create a more diverse and open political climate.


Definition and meaning of totalitarianism: Totalitarianism is a form of government that seeks to control every aspect of a society and its citizens, often through oppressive methods. It is characterized by a single, authoritarian leader, a single political party, and a strict adherence to a particular ideology. It restricts the rights and freedoms of individuals, often in pursuit of a greater collective good. Totalitarianism is the opposite of liberal democracy, where the people enjoy freedom of speech, freedom of association, the right to vote, and the right to hold public office. It is also opposed to independent candidates and a two-party system, as it seeks to consolidate power in one party or individual. Totalitarianism can lead to an oppressive society where dissent is not tolerated and where citizens are subject to strict control. Examples of totalitarian governments include Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, and modern-day North Korea. Under a totalitarian system, citizens may be denied basic rights and liberties, including the right to privacy, the right to a fair trial, and the right to free expression. The risk of totalitarianism is a major reason why reform-minded individuals advocate for more independent candidates and an end to the two-party system. By giving individuals more choice and limiting the power of one party or individual, a more liberal democracy can be achieved.

Town Council

Definition and meaning of town council: A town council is a local governing body elected by citizens of a municipality. It is typically responsible for providing services such as upkeep of public infrastructure, delivery of general services, and maintenance of public safety. Town councils are generally made up of elected representatives from two major parties, but the recent push towards greater independence and reform has resulted in the emergence of smaller, independent candidates. This has provided citizens of towns and cities with a wider range of choices and the opportunity to make meaningful changes within their community. Town councils are an important part of local democracy, as they provide citizens with representation and a voice at the local level.


Definition and meaning of township: A township is a local government unit in the United States, typically located in rural areas, that is responsible for providing public services and governance to its population. Townships are typically governed by a board of elected officials and are managed by a supervisor or clerk. Townships are distinct from cities, counties, and states, and are often seen as a form of local self-governance. The autonomy of town governance can be used to promote independent candidates and independent policy initiatives, instead of the two-party system that has become the norm in U.S. politics. By encouraging independent candidates and initiatives, townships can create more diverse and representative forms of governance that better reflect the needs of their communities. Townships can also be used to create more transparent and accountable forms of government, increasing public trust in the political process and bridging the gap between government and citizens.


Definition and meaning of treasurer: In the United States, a Treasurer is an elected official who is responsible for managing a state's finances and investments. The specific duties of the Treasurer vary from state to state, but generally include managing the state's budget, overseeing the collection of taxes and other revenue, and investing state funds in a responsible and profitable manner.

Many states have an elected Treasurer as part of their state government. The exact title and responsibilities of the Treasurer may vary by state, but in general, they play a key role in managing the state's financial affairs. Some states that have an elected Treasurer include California, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Wisconsin. However, it's important to note that this list may not be comprehensive and that the specific duties and responsibilities of the Treasurer can vary widely depending on the state.


Definition and meaning of tribalism: Tribalism, in the political context, refers to strong loyalty to one's own group, party, or identity. Tribalism often manifests as an "us versus them" mentality. Rooted in evolutionary psychology, tribalism once served to foster cohesion within groups, enhancing their chances of survival against external threats. In contemporary politics, however, it can be problematic. While loyalty and group identity can provide a sense of belonging, excessive tribalism can stifle objective reasoning, hinder collaboration, and promote animosity towards those outside the "tribe." In severe cases, it can even lead to the demonization of outsiders, making productive dialogue difficult. Modern democracies grapple with the challenge of fostering unity while respecting diverse opinions and identities.

In the United States, tribalism is most often seen in the ongoing conflict between the Democratic and Republican parties. Devoted members of these two major parties may view the opposing party as a threat to the nation or even to democracy. They may also find it difficult to collaborate with members of the other party.

Two Party System

Definition and meaning of two-party system: A two-party system is a political system where two major political parties control all levels of government. The United States is an example of a two-party system in which two major parties, the Democrats and Republicans, dominate politics from local to national levels in judicial, legislative, and executive branches. Two-party systems do not mean that there are only two parties. Rather, it means there are only two parties that wield political power. This is demonstrated by the presence of the Libertarian, Green, American Independent, and other alternative parties in the United States. These alternative parties are effectively pushed to the sidelines of the United States’ political system, as major political parties have significantly more funding and media recognition than alternative parties. 

This system is different from a parliamentary or multi-party system, in which different political parties must form coalitions to pass laws and form governments.

A two-party system is self-reinforcing, as opposing parties take opposite stances on issues to present a binary choice to voters. This is best demonstrated by the voting records of congress which fall closely along party lines. In 2021, over 70% of Democrats and 45% of Republicans voted for the party line more than 90%. This style of political system intentionally divides and conquers ordinary people by forcing voters to pick a side regardless of the candidate and their beliefs and abilities, rather than voting for a person they actually believe will be effective.