The Party’s (Not) Over (Yet)

October 27th, 2010

Inspired by Following the campaign cash, Politics has lost its center of balance, and Voting in the dark (Washington Post 10/25/10). Political parties are an important part of American democracy. No, they’re not in the Constitution, but contrary to the standard Tea Party view, that doesn’t mean they’re evil. Parties perform the important social and political function of promoting (indeed, requiring) compromise and centrism.

“Imagine an election in a Third World nation where a small number of millionaires and billionaires spent massive sums to push the outcome in their preferred direction. Wouldn’t many people here condescendingly tut-tut over such a country’s “poorly developed” sense of democracy and the inadequacy of its political system? That, of course, is what is going on in our country as you read this. If you travel any place where there is a contested House or Senate race, you are bombarded with attack ads, almost all against Democrats, paid for by groups that do not have to reveal where their money comes from… Elections are there to be won, not bought.” — E.J. Dionne
“To its practitioners, politics is about power: getting it, keeping it and using it. But for the nation, the basic purpose of politics is to conciliate. If everyone agreed on everything, politics would be unnecessary. So would democracy and elections. A dictator could govern by universally accepted preferences and policies. Without consensus, politics is how we resolve our differences short of resorting to violence. One reason so many Americans are unhappy with politics today is that it has abdicated its central role. It doesn’t narrow our differences; it exaggerates them.”–Robert Samuelson

One of the effects of the Citizens United case

Is the importance of political parties to further erase.

Parties are basically political sorting mechanisms,

Amalgamating issues and principles through political prisms.

The expression of this process is the party platform,

To which its members (to varying degrees) conform.

Contrary to the politican who any form of subtlety rejects,

The world and modern society are unavoidably complex.

Solving problems requires trade-offs and compromise–

Taking an unbending single-issue approach usually isn’t wise.

That’s what Citizens United strengthens the incentive to do,

Since single-issue groups now have even more power than they used to.

(Before Citizens United, single-issue groups already had lots of power,

But that decision had the effect, them further to empower.)

Unfortunately, that excessive empowerment is hard to reverse,

But it is possible to do the converse.

That means (and here I may be going out on a limb)

Re-strengthening our political party system.

Stronger parties provides an incentive to compromise,

And require our leaders to seek inter- and intra-party allies.

Stronger parties provides an incentive to coexist,

Insulating parties from the tyranny of the single-issue extremist.

How would I accomplish this noble goal

And restore political parties’ leading role?

Ideally, I’d implement party-allocated public campaign finance,

Which would restore political parties’ fighting chance.

Short of that, I’d significantly increase the maximum individual contribution,

And make those additional funds available for party distribution.

To avoid letting the wealthy elections snatch,

I’d institute a generous public funding match.

The first $100 of for individual donations

Could be matched ten to one (no match for corporations).

But, say my liberal friends, this would help Repubs as well as Dems,

Normally the kind of thing a partisan like me condemns.

But as much as I disagree

With the current GOP,

I don’t think it should be weaked even more.

After all, competition is what political parties are for.

Otherwise, the party’s over, and with it, our democracy,

And all we’ll have left is single-issue theocracy.


Here’s your theme music, The Party’s Over by Nat King Cole.

Here’s Jon Stewart’s 10/26/10 interview with interim DE Senator Ted Kaufman, who talks (among other things) about the waning influence of political parties in America.

The Daily Show With Jon Stewart Mon – Thurs 11p / 10c
Ted Kaufman
Daily Show Full Episodes Political Humor Rally to Restore Sanity
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One Response to “The Party’s (Not) Over (Yet)”

  1. Newsericks » Blog Archive » Still Something Left (or: Don’t Have a Cao, Man) Says:

    […] follow-up to Public Campaign Finance and The Party’s (Not) Over (Yet), inspired by Supreme Court rejects GOP challenge to campaign finance law (Washington Post […]

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