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View Poll Results: Do political parties do more harm than good?

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  • Yes

    12 66.67%
  • No

    6 33.33%
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  1. #1
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Default Political Parties

    Do political parties do more good or bad? It seems to me that following a political philosophy is a lot like following a religion. They both require you to put blind faith into a set of beliefs regardless of the circumstances. Well, that isn't quite true, since religion usually asks you to use reason, whereas political philosophy often requires that you overlook the faults in your beliefs.

    My main concern is that political parties seem to foster an "us vs. them" mentality, where each side decides that the other is responsible for the problems of the country, and both sides refuse to offer compromising solutions toward those problems. In addition to that, politicians seem to just be masters of rhetoric and scapegoating who work for big business and special interests groups. They don't really seem interested in the genuine welfare of the country or the liberties and freedoms of its citizens.

    I would like to think that political parties at least maintain a balance of power in this country. But it is clear to me, with the interchanging of the members between that parties, that there is no loyalty.

  2. #2
    not to be trusted miss fortune's Avatar
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    I've taken classes on this issue, and have written long and detailed papers on it! I will not, however, go into details here! (you will be very grateful! )

    I can't generalize this to countries outside of the US, but here, I think that political parties are good for politicians and political donors, but in the end that they are bad for the rest of us.
    “Oh, we're always alright. You remember that. We happen to other people.” -Terry Pratchett

  3. #3
    ^He pronks, too! Magic Poriferan's Avatar
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    Political parties are definitely bad.

    Choices should be made more on the merit of a candidate and his/her policies. Political parties create pointless and counter-productive incentives.
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  4. #4
    Senior Member htb's Avatar
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    Political parties, like any association, allow those with similar beliefs, policies and/or ends to serve a larger purpose of the organization, broad constituencies and self-interest of the individual. Simply the formalization and magnification of collaborative relationships, parties, were they to be dissolved tomorrow, would be assembled again, as citizens -- representatives and the represented -- naturally formed partnerships and alliances. Elections may be deserved by merit, but they are actually won through material and social resources, from those who rate candidates according to concrete values like reputation and standing. Political parties are easiest to dismiss in the mind, especially when having no experience with them.

  5. #5
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by htb View Post
    Political parties, like any association, allow those with similar beliefs, policies and/or ends to serve a larger purpose of the organization, broad constituencies and self-interest of the individual. Simply the formalization and magnification of collaborative relationships, parties, were they to be dissolved tomorrow, would be assembled again, as citizens -- representatives and the represented -- naturally formed partnerships and alliances. Elections may be deserved by merit, but they are actually won through material and social resources, from those who rate candidates according to concrete values like reputation and standing. Political parties are easiest to dismiss in the mind, especially when having no experience with them.
    So what you are saying is that some of the best the Republican party could come up with as far as "reputation" and "standing", were men like Larry Craig and Mark Foley?

    Somehow I don't think our political parties functions quite as you describe. How many Democrats or Republicans truly believe their views are accurately represented by their respected parties?

    I believe political parties could function as you suggest, but only if private enterprises were limited in their capacity in government, and elected officials were actually held accountable.

  6. #6
    Senior Member htb's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Kiddo View Post
    value judgments
    Should have seen where this was going. Enjoy!

  7. #7
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by htb View Post
    Should have seen where this was going. Enjoy!
    You lost me there. I never said anything about "value judgments". You were the person who made the suggestion that candidates are picked by their respected parties because of "concrete values."

  8. #8

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    I am rather U.S. centric in my thinking about gov'ts.

    This may be of interest:

    Thomas Jefferson, Federalist. Peter S. Onuf

    FWIW, I don't believe that the absence of political parties necessarily leads to needing a coalition government.

    We can still have three branches, a bicameral legislature, etc. Parties are not a necessary part of the process, IMO.

    The only issue maybe that U.S. becomes more of a plutocracy then we already are. But if we were to institute a set campaign system (rigid-no room for promotion, campaigning of any sort outside the system, w/ immediate disqualification for violators), then it would no longer be about electing the person with the best image consultants and be more about electing the best states-people and policy makers.

    If Clinton and Bush for the last 15 years wasn't enough for people who want image to be the determining factor fro their leader...maybe we'll have another Clinton, then another heir/relative on the republican side to follow.

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  9. #9
    Furry Critter with Claws Kiddo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ygolo View Post
    If Clinton and Bush for the last 15 years wasn't enough for people who want image to be the determining factor fro their leader...maybe we'll have another Clinton, then another heir/relative on the republican side to follow.
    Wow. I didn't even want to think about that. That will keep me up for nights to come.

  10. #10
    Senior Member Roger Mexico's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by htb View Post
    Political parties, like any association, allow those with similar beliefs, policies and/or ends to serve a larger purpose of the organization, broad constituencies and self-interest of the individual. Simply the formalization and magnification of collaborative relationships, parties, were they to be dissolved tomorrow, would be assembled again, as citizens -- representatives and the represented -- naturally formed partnerships and alliances. Elections may be deserved by merit, but they are actually won through material and social resources, from those who rate candidates according to concrete values like reputation and standing. Political parties are easiest to dismiss in the mind, especially when having no experience with them.
    Exactly.

    The problem with the U.S. political system is that it was designed without parties in mind--the Founders distrusted "factions" and expected everybody to act out of high-minded classical Republican concern for the "greater good." This didn't stop political parties from forming within a few years of the Constitution being ratified, which just proves why this kind of thinking is flawed--everyone's going to define the "greater good" differently, probably in a way that reflects their own interests. So we have a system designed to balance competing regional interests (federalism and a national Congress), and competing institutional interests (separation of executive, legislative, and judicial powers into separate bodies), but without any consideration of organized parties the system has produced a winner-take-all arrangement that can only include the two largest parties at any given time.

    So, basically, in the United States what we need is more political parties. Parliamentary systems like you see in Europe use measures like multi-member districting to allow several parties to be represented. That's why minority parties like the German Greens or the British Liberal Democrats play more of a role in their respective countries' political systems than their American counterparts--the segment of the American population that would favor a Green platform or a Libertarian platform over the Democratic or Republican platforms are effectively unrepresented unless they can make a play for control of one of the major parties.

    Our parties are coalitions between groups that might elsewhere form separate parties--labor unions and environmentalists don't always see eye-to-eye, but they end up endorsing the same candidates because they'd otherwise be forfeiting any representation by splitting the vaguely-defined "democratic" vote. Same goes for pro-business libertarians and social-conservative Evangelicals in the Republican party. In an MMD system, these groups could run separate candidates and then form inter-party coalitions within the legislature. In the U.S. you have to form your coalition and select a platform before an election, so the people who are actually running aren't going to represent a wide diversity of approaches to any issue--their positions reflect what the party's internal deliberative processes have decided are the most likely to secure a majority of the popular vote.

    It's the result of an all-or-nothing approach to representation rather than some kind of inherent problem with people organizing themselves into groups based on shared self-interest. The idea that you can just choose the "best man for the job" without any consideration fo that person's affiliations is a naive holdover from the idealistic, but misguided, aspirations of the people who wrote the U.S. Constitution.

    I'm not registered with either party, which reflects the fact that generally I don't really agree completely with either's platform. But lately it's occurred to me that this fact excludes me from perhaps the more important part of our electoral process, i.e. the primaries. For instance, I'd like to have six or seven viable candidates to choose from in the actual presidential election, but due to the nature of the system it's usually down to two at that point, which strikes me as not much of a choice (the infamous "lesser of two evils" decision. If I registered as a Democrat or Republican (honestly I'm not sure which way I'd lean) and could vote in the primary, I'd have more of a choice as far as who I'd like to see nominated. But since I don't generally think that either one is very likely to represent my personal position on most issues, I don't see the point of joining up one way or the other.

    If I had more parties to choose from, it wouldn't be a problem.

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