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Library: Partisanship and the Failure of American Government

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Author: Kalay
Date:Nov 2 1995

     
      Partisanship and the Failure of American Government
     Over two hundred years ago, a new nation was formed, with a new
set of rules dictating government processes.  In the eyes of its
creators, this new government would ensure the equal representation of
all its citizens.  However, another system crept within the designed
system:  partisanship.  The division of people according to their
beliefs in order to act as larger political powers began. However,
this also limited the flow of new ideas, created new political
propaganda, and stereotyped the members of political parties under the
platform of the whole party.  Without this oppression on our political
system, more progress could be made in legislating today's government.
     One form of oppression created by partisanship is the prevention
of the free flow of ideas within the legislative system.  Political
parties, as a rule, form a hierarchy within them.  Action against the
party platform generally lessens the rank of a member, while the
support of party beliefs can result in rewards within the political
hierarchy.  Therefore, individuals are encouraged to follow the
precedents and beliefs of their leaders, without thought as to their
personal beliefs or those of their constituents.  They are also
threatened with falling out of favor with their party's superiors, and
are intimidated into withholding ideas which, though possibly useful,
are contrary to the guidelines of the party.
     Another way that partisanship hinders the progress of government
is in the propaganda of distrust spread by one party against the
opposition.  For example, in 1992, the term "gridlock" was used to
describe the failure of many measures to pass Congress.  The
Democratic party pitched the existence of gridlock as being a root
cause of the failure of government.  They also placed the blame for
gridlock on the backs of Republicans.  The successful goal of this
propaganda was to unseat the President, a Republican, and to
strengthen the Democratic hold on Congress.  In another case, just
last year, Republicans used similar propaganda to attempt to weaken
the Democrats in Congress.  Successfully, this tilted view was
portrayed to the American people, and Democrats lost control of
Congress.  But why is this propaganda so harmful?  The use of
catch-phrases to label certain parties and to attract negative
attention to those parties clouds the true progress those parties have
made.  The idea that one party was "evil" for causing the failure of
certain bills or for not producing useful bills became implanted in
voters' minds, despite the fact that the party was simply standing up
for its beliefs.  Since many voters were propagandized into believing
that all members of a party were detrimental to the progress of
government, they voted against the that party, and the opposition
gained ground on the political battlefield.  This gain, however, was
made by training voters into believing certain ideas, without allowing
them to decide for themselves on the true issues.
     One more form of oppression is also caused by the stereotype of
political party members as being automatons manufactured to be exact
replicas of the party platform.  In reality, many political officials'
beliefs do not conform exactly to those outlined by their political
party.  This classification of people by their party affiliations
prevents the specific beliefs of those people from being outlined to
the public.  Candidates for political office listed as Democrats may
actually be fiscally or morally conservative, characteristics not
usually associated with the Democratic party.  However, since these
candidates are registered as Democrats, their appeal to more
conservative voters may be lessened because of the tag of "Democrat"
attached to their names; liberal voters may be attracted to these
candidates because of their party affiliation while the candidates'
beliefs are actually more conservative.
     The system of political parties in the United States government
is oppressive to ideas and confusing to voters.  Obviously, these are
characteristics of government which conflict with the ideals of
democracy, and definite changes need to be made.  To start, the total
elimination of party lines is necessary to reverse the partisan
hierarchies which have formed in the political system.  Without
political parties, a new form of election must be instituted.  A
possible scenario for the election of President is this:  In each
district, up to four candidates may run for the office.  An election
is held, and the winner of the election (representing most of the
citizens in the district) is entered into an election consisting of
the winners from this and three surrounding districts.  Each election
is simply an expanded scale of the previous one, until one of four
candidates is finally selected for the office of President.  This is
done without party affiliations, thus allowing the expression of the
true beliefs and goals of the individual candidates.  In Congressional
bodies throughout the nation, house speakers would be elected by the
entire legislative body, not just the members of one party.  Many
changes would have to be effected; however, these changes would permit
the effective progress of government.
     To institute changes which would make America's government work
requires the efforts of voters and legislators.  Voters must apply
political pressure towards the elimination of parties; without a
mandate from Congressional constituents, action will not occur to
remove partisanship from government.  Although voters may be confused
at first, the added flexibility in selection of lawmakers would create
advantages which would far outweigh the drawbacks of disorder.
Legislators, however, have a more profound responsibility:  to
sacrifice the political power of the party and introduce systems which
allow lawmaking to proceed without the constraints placed by
partisanship.  While these alterations would remove the comfort zones
with which legislators have worked for so long, the benefits to the
individual members would be enormous.
     The partisan scheme is obviously a failed system, and it is up to
the American people to demand a new method of directing governmental
procedures.  Without a reconstruction of our government to make it an
effective way to manage the nation, progress will never be made, and
the United States will sink deeper into the problems it has
experienced for many years.  However, with change, the government of
our nation can bring itself back into trust with its citizens and
strengthen its position in the world view.  After the several years
required to "forget" old party affiliations and attitudes, politicians
and voters would come to understand each other on issues--the true
issues--as they should have been for over two hundred years.


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