Friday, February 25, 2011

Political Parties Are Killing America

Name one good thing political parties in general have done for America recently. I'm not talking about something just one party has done, I mean something that as a whole the political party SYSTEM has done. 

Let's talk first about all the in-fighting among the parties. One could make the argument that all the fighting is a good thing, and I would tend to agree based on that point of view. However, look at it from the standpoint of voting. How many filibusters have there been lately? How much of that in-fighting been more about party stance than about the actual issues at hand?

Then there's the positions. I want to focus on just one right now: the minority whip. Description of the positionensure party discipline in a legislature. Whips are party 'enforcers', who typically offer inducements and threaten punishments for party members to ensure that they vote according to the official party policy. Ok, now let's focus on that last part about voting according to official party policy. Basically what they do is make sure you vote how the PARTY wants you to vote, not the people you REPRESENT want you to vote. Let that sink in for a minute. You, the voter, elect a REPRESENTATIVE to go into Congress because you believe that they have your best interests in mind. Once there, they vote differently because their party affiliation wants them to. Does this not seem wrong to you?

Along those same lines, let's look at the plebeians. How many people do you know vote for a person based solely on what political party they are attached to? My guess is a lot. "I won't vote for him! He's a Republican!" "Democrats are ruining this country! One will never get MY vote!"  People like roles and identities. Once they identify themselves as a part of one political party and incorporate that into their sense of self, there's almost no turning back. They vote for the party, not the issues. "Sure he's going to raise my taxes and take away my benefits, but at least he's not a Republican." 

And to build on top of that, let's look at how the voting has gone the past several years. As a general rule since FDR, the party of the President has always alternated between a Democrat and a Republican with every term, with few exceptions. Don't believe me? Look for yourself. By that same token, the party in power has usually been of the opposite party of the President come the first mid-term elections after the Presidential election. As I said, this is almost a general rule. Why is that do you think? Let's look at George W. Bush. He's a Republican who followed a Democrat. He was succeeded by a Democrat. He entered office with a Republican controlled Congress. He left with a Democrat controlled Congress. Look at Barak Obama. Similar outcome. Are people really voting for the candidate? Or against the political party? My guess is the latter. John McCain didn't stand a chance in the last election not because of his stance, the issues, or anything he did, but because people lumped him in with Bush, we (as a people as a whole) were tired of Bush.

Let's change the focus now to the money issue of political parties. First up: the separate primaries and caucuses. So much is involved with each one. The planning, the lights, sounds, flyers, banners, advertisings, everything. That's a huge drain on resources (read: money). Couldn't all that money be better spent elsewhere? each individual candidate's campaign? Think about it like this: Rather than having a huge caucus or primary, let the candidates raise their own money and use that. They won't have all the influence and money from their party being pumped into their campaign, so they will have to really connect with the voters and attack the issues. A side effect of this: more candidates. Think of Democrats and Republicans as Wal-Mart and Starbucks. Once they come into town, they run all the ma and pop stores (less wealthy yet equally qualified candidates) out of business. 

Yes, more candidates may seem like a bad thing. More choice is not always a good thing. There could potentially be a lower margin of victory among candidates in any election for any position. In fact, with so many people to choose from, many people may not even vote. Is that such a bad thing though? In order to choose a candidate, people will have to do a little bit of research. They would have to identify what was important to them, and vote along THOSE lines. The people who decided not to vote wouldn't matter. By not voting, they express their opinion that who represents them is unimportant and will go along with whatever happens (as do non-voters now). Said simply: If you vote, you have an interest in what happens in the future,  and you try to act in a way that is most beneficial to you. If you don't vote, you don't care who gets elected and will go along with whatever policies come up. This will make things better by weeding out the people who cast a vote just to cast a vote (more on that in a future post).

One last point about how political parties are killing America: The rhetoric. How often do we hear about RINOs (Republican In Name Only), or radical Democrats? People of one party who become associated with another party (which any other time would be called bi-partisanship) and thus do not get re-elected? Watch Fox News or CNN and see how many insults are thrown around at the parties in general.  It's disgusting if you really think about it. Elimination of parties would fix most of it.

Now, I know that we can never get rid of the party system. It's too ingrained into our government system, and no wave of a magic wand will ever fix that. The only way it could ever happen MAYBE is if we get a Supreme Court full of strict Constitutionalists (people who say that if it's not expressly stated in the Constitution, the government has now power to deal with it) say that it's unconstitutional, but that's a long shot at best. Other than that, enjoy the party system. It'll bring all of us down one day.

Think political parties are actually good for America? Or do you think I overlooked a threat they pose and our doom is coming much faster? Let me know! Contact me or leave a comment! 


Teresauras said...

I think ere are a lot of things we could do without, but people are too deep into some ideas that I doubt we can move on. There definitely are other ways than parties to operate this place, I can see what you're saying. &the voting thing, yeah I've had vibes. I was talking with Audrey a little about some kind of related things... XD

gman said...

I have many problems with the American political system as well as just about every other in the world.

Some of what you said rang very true to me. I dislike optional voting though, you may disagree, but I beleive voting should be compulsory. Now that may allow a lot of stupid people to vote but stupid people need to be represented in congress too, not just the corporate elite.

10swords said...

@Teresauras: Thanks :) I think you're right. Parties are here to stay. But I don't think that's so great.

@Gman: I see what you're saying, and I actually considered that when forming this argument. Yeah, maybe the stupid should be represented, but at the same time, that makes the campaigns less about the issues and more about selling the candidate. On the flip side, I guess a lot of smarter people would vote too, and if people HAD to vote, they MAY do a bit more research... Hmm... There's something to think about....