Political parties have been an important actor in American politics since this country’s founding. Parties have been a boon to First Amendment freedoms of political speech and association. They’ve allowed individuals to join together and speak with one voice about the issues of the day. They’ve allowed candidates to associate with a brand and more easily convey their message to voters. And the parties themselves perform many vital small-r republican and small-d democratic activities that no one candidate is capable of doing on their own. Parties build coalitions among voters, inform voters about their candidate’s policy positions, and pool resources to best promote the party’s platform.
Despite political parties’ importance to our democracy, many speech regulations are chipping away at their role. Less heavily regulated groups like super PACs, can spend unlimited sums on political speech, while political parties are hamstrung by laws that make it more difficult to speak during campaigns. Laws should be reformed to ensure that political parties are treated on par with other political groups.