When an election is coming up, you usually expect a face-off between the two major US political parties-Democrats and Republicans. It's easy to forget that there are numerous minor parties-and even groups within a single party-that have different goals. Why do we need political parties? In modern elections, they are important in shaping candidates' positions on issues, determining who is nominated to run on a party ticket, and working behind the scenes to influence an election's outcome. Examine opposing viewpoints on some of the key issues surrounding political parties and consider for yourself the power they hold in the US election process.