A political party is a group of people working together to establish, promote or gain acceptance for principles, processes and positions of governance, they hold in common. In a democracy, political parties actively support their members as candidates in elections who, if successful ,will enact as law or execute as policy, preferences they share.
If Everything is Politicized, How do Parties Govern?
The poisonous, near dysfunctional national politics we are experiencing now may reflect an emerging critical fact: our 18th and 19th Century two party construct is inadequate for the 21st Century’s black/white, hyper- emotional and violent social and political reality. Or it may be something else.
The US Constitution describes America’s form of government as a Representative Democracy. It needs the will of a majority of voters (James Madison:”“derives all its powers directly or indirectly from the great body of the people.”) to be honestly represented and honestly deliberated from a single perspective, albeit with multiple interpretations: how best to advance and improve the lives of the American people.
Possibly, in 2022 our political system just requires more than 2 major political parties to deliver to the 3 branches of the US Government, the myriad of opinions, concerns and substantive needs of 332 million Americans. One possible, if unlikely, parliamentary result of having more active, participating parties, could be the formation in Congress of coalitions behind policy positions; compromise would be essential for them to survive.
Parties and Voting Ballots Obsolete?
Also, in the 21st Century, the communications revolution could have made today’s political parties and hard copy election ballots, obsolete. Cyberworld allows any blogger, Twitter-meister or cloud-based messaging service to function like a political party. Like minded people can coalesce and amplify their thoughts to the world, based on facts or fables.
A 2022 Washington, D.C. proposal now under consideration, would allow the electorate to cast their votes entirely online, using smartphones, laptops or tablets. Massive objections will erupt. But, updating our electoral systems does make sense; it would be faster, cheaper, easier and encourage more people to vote.
Power is a Party’s Policy Vehicle: Why was the Whig Party organized in the 1680s? Put simply, to empower the collective energy of an expanding group of upper class Brits who were strongly opposed to absolute monarchy. The Magna Carta was a 1215 AD British precedent for limiting monarchical power. By 1930, the major social changes resulting from industrialization (rise of the working man voter) and WWI (weakened rigid antebellum class system) brought about a broad based British democracy.
Something Worth thinking About?
It’s also possible that the reasons for our current ruptured national sentiment are found in changes to the general national character of the American people. The living context in which generations exist shapes who we are. Mass male voting and loosened class boundaries certainly did in the UK, affecting politics and much more.
In the early 1900s, Americans were globally perceived as honest, trustworthy, reasonable and very practical problem-solvers. The Persian Empire hired two Americans circa 1906. to manage its finances and thwart rampant corruption and disorder.
Again, just me, but for many Americans, our information and opinions are no longer informed by personal interactions with family, friends, coworkers, team members and neighbors, people we trust. We may have argued, but we listened and learned from each other. Now we react, possibly emotionally, go on line and discover others agree. Before long we’re in a self perpetuating, possibly expanding, cocoon of firm “belief”. Elon Musk is poised to remove guardrails and standards from Twitter, possibly allowing even more convinced people cocoons to form and really go global.
Tom Timberman is an Army vet, lawyer, former senior Foreign Service officer, adjunct professor at GWU, and economic development team leader or foreign government advisor in war zones. He is the author of four books, lectures locally and at US and European universities. He and his wife are 24 year residents of Kent County.