Political parties have unified groups of people and helped them seek and achieve common goals. They have a tradition of participation in democratic government that is two centuries old. Political parties have not, however, stemmed the decline in the number of people who vote. Many people view the primary elections as elimination contests that have little to do with political parties. TV ads and money from political action committees (PACs) seem to do more to persuade voters than the efforts of political parties.
Political parties today better reflect American society than they did a generation ago. Men and women from all ethnic and religious groups and from all walks of life participate in party caucuses and conventions. The primary system, whatever its defects, offers far more choices to voters than did the old party machines. This openness shows that political parties have had the strength and flexibility to adapt to changing times.