Do we Really Need Political Parties?

For more than a century the American political landscape has been dominated by the Democrats and Republicans. In recent years, frustrated by the imperfections of our two-party system, many have begun pushing for the inclusion of more parties. But I have come to believe that political parties are most of the problem; rather than part of the solution. So, I am going to spend the rest of this post illustrating what a system with no political parties would look like. Then we can debate its pluses and minuses when compared to the party system. And, of course, if you want to add to my list of advantages, feel free. Because I want you to read this I’m not going to cover everything.

If there were no political parties Congressional elections would tend to be much more local, because there would be no national parties to pump millions into local races. This change would go a long way to make running for Congress more about ideas and qualifications and less about wealth.

If there were no political parties the influence of the wealthy over our nation’s politics would be greatly diminished, because they would not be able to buy off entire parties simply by writing a few checks. Instead, they would have to make direct contact with every politician they wished to influence. Obviously, a more daunting proposition.

If there were no political parties Congressional committee assignments would not be handed out based on ridiculous criterion like party loyalty and seniority. The houses of Congress would individually meet and have to vote as whole groups—rather than parties as it is done now—to choose their body’s leadership and give out committee assignments. As an extra benefit this would do away with the designations of majority and minority; thus, creating a much better climate for compromise.

If there were no political parties the American public would need to be more involved in the electoral process. No longer could they simply show up on Election Day and pull a lever for the party they have always supported. There are so many advantages to that outcome that I think my head is about to explode. Just thinking about a society where the media can no longer market its “news” to one side of the isle or the other is enough to make my sore throat feel better.

If there were no political parties the influence of special interests would be greatly reduced. This has much to do with money, but I thought it was deserving of a special mention because of how important it is.

If there were no political parties we would be done with stupid polls that tell us how Republicans and Democrats view different issues. After all, the only thing that matters is how Americans view the issues that are impacting our nation.

In closing, I strongly believe that our system of political parties, more than anything else, is responsible for the corruption that plagues our system and the polarization that makes getting anything done very difficult. If we want to make sure that the politicians start considering what we want we need to eliminate as many of the barriers that exist between us and them as we can. And while eliminating the party system will not solve all of our political problems it’s a good start in that direction.

Are you ready to get rid of political parties? Are you going to do your part and register as an independent?

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18 Responses to “Do we Really Need Political Parties?”

  1. dajjal Says:

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  2. Jonathan Simeone Says:

    Thank you for your comments. I look forward to reading your response and discussing this issue with you.

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  3. dajjal Says:

    Unable to find the contact form, Jon. SEO is search engine optimization. Headings (h1 etc) attract spiders. So do named anchors. I sometimes use Description & Key Word meta tags. Frequently used external links and named anchors. You can also exploit alternate text and title attributes of images. I generally don’t use images though.

    WordPress does a pretty good job of notifying the search engines about new content. Your post turns up at the top of 27 of 27 hits in Google, but not in the top 20 of 88 at Yahoo!. That’s with the title in quotes. #9 with the quotes removed. That ain’t bad!

    Believe it or not, my latest post does not show up in Yahoo! Google or All The Web. It got 3 viewers so far.

  4. NG Lynd Says:

    This is a great argument for getting rid of parties. I would like to see this, or more parties. I have to admit I am happy with Obama right now, so I guess I am feeling good about the Dems in some respect. However, I don’t see why he couldn’t remain pres with no or more parties!

    I have taken an interest in Netherland’s parties. They have many more, and they are successful. Because of our two party system, we have people that think in very rigid, black-and-white style; liberals have one whole set of values, and conservatives another. We have a population that cannot conceptualize different levels, mixes of ideas, shades and subtle/nuanced positions. This is not the same as wishy-washy mushy-middle thinking, but people have a hard time seeing that.

    In Europe, there are center-right liberals, liberal conservatives, socialist libertarians, left-wing libertarians that have some conservative/traditional ideas, conservatives that have some radical left ideas, left-right libertarians, and left-right populists. There are socialist parties that are really center-left liberals, and socialist parties that are more blatently economically populist. Americans can’t conceptualize this; thinking about it gives them cognitive dissonance.

    Our duopoly is creating people that cannot think, they are too rigid in their cognitive processes. I really think this is why we can’t solve problems in America, but instead continue to squabble over the same topics for decades. We see two solutions, not ten or twenty. This is because we do not teach kids to think it shades and nuances and subtle arguments. The media and our politics really feed into their style of thinking, I really believe that it is so entrenched in the society that the average citizen continues to be reinforced in this style of thinking throughout life.

    One way to encourage people to be capable of conceptualizing this notion—this notion of how any one person can have any number of different ideas that combine together to form their own unique belief system—is to get rid of parties and just have citizens vote for each individual. People could then vote for politicians that have any possible combination of ideas and stances. Politicians would not be beholden to the party, but to the ideas and viewpoints their constituents voted them in for. Politicians would be relieved of having to go along with their party on matters they do not agree on. In other words, pretty much what you said!

    I think that perhaps a variety of different parties would do this as well, but probably not to the same degree. There would be more choices for voters, because there would be different combinations of ideas to make up the various, different party platforms. However, we would still be at-risk for parties being corrupted, but it would be less risk than a two-party system carries. US has most corrupt government system in western world, and it is partially because od this duopoly; European nations are not so vulnerable to this because of their many parties. So, adding parties will lessen corruption, but not to the degree that it would be reduced completely by doing away with parties altogether.

  5. Jonathan Simeone Says:

    NG, On balance, I think Obama is doing a good job. I think he has the potential to be the best president of my lifetime. But on some issues, especially those that involve questions of law, I think he’s made some seriously bad choices.

    I completely agree with your comments about Americans not learning how to think. At more cynical moments I’ve said that the Republicans like it that way, but that’s for another day.

    As far as multi-party nations go, something you obviously know more about than me, how have the recent problems that the Israelis are having forming a government impacting your thinking? Or do you think that would not be a problem here, because the parties would not be choosing the president?

  6. NG Lynd Says:

    Exactly, we would choose the president. Israel is a curious situation in its own right, I respect Israel in general but I do not trust the government there, I think there is a certain insulation the Israelis experience that makes them a situation unto themselves.

  7. Jack Says:

    What’s up, I just found this blog – thank you for writing. I wanted to inform you that it’s not showing up correctly on the BlackBerry Browser (I have a Pearl). Anyway, I am now subscribed to your RSS feed on my PC, so thanks again!

  8. Gus Gaglio Says:

    Jonathan,
    You are dead on !!! I was directed here from an email I sent to my son
    Where I went into some rants about the DemocRATS and RepuGNICANs, destroying my America. I am glad to see that there is others that sharS the views. Any sensible American, capable of honestly answering the simple question “What have DemocRATS & RepuGNICANS done for AMERICA in the last 5 decades?”, will come to the same conclusion.
    Two parties battling each other for supremacy and forgetting about America, and the Constitution that defines our way of life.

  9. Jacked Says:

    Hi, I replied about a year ago telling you that I could not read your articles properly. I don’t know if you altered your site but I can now see it properly, so I’m happy. I’m using a Black Berry Curve.

  10. H. Hunter Says:

    Hello Jonathan,
    I agree that just the idea of having political parties as part of our voting method leads all of us right down the road of division by political party. No parties equals compromise as the way to solve the nations problems. My biggest belief is that a corporation is not a citizen of this country, therefore they should be outlawed from making any financial contributions to anything except charities. It is corporate money that corrupts the American Political Landscape. I would love to hear other viewpoints regarding my political thoughts expressed here. I honestly feel the founding fathers are constantly turning in there graves watching the crap that exists in American Politics altogether.

  11. tj Says:

    George Washington didnt believe in parties. He thought they covered up the views of the american public as a whole. I think without parties the american people have more say in where America goes as a whole. It puts the power back where it was always intended, the people of this great country. When the leaders of the country get too involved in there party debates the American Public SUFFERS!!! Yet, Every day we drag our heels along going with the flow because its easier to do so. Wheres the fight America was founded on? Problem is We’ve gotten soft politically as a country. Lazy because it is easier to vote democratic or republican in the voting booth, Instead of following the person you think is the best and making an informed vote.

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  13. Janis C Says:

    I agree with all you say EXCEPT…..There you go, you just told us to register as an independent…There’s another political party to add to the bunch…How about vote for “the person” vote for a name not as an independent or a party. Vote for a person’s beliefs & ideals for this country.

  14. David Plunkett Says:

    I read your post quickly, so if I missed this point I apologize. I spent about two months a few years ago watching a lot of C span. It went like this. For a day and a half Senators would take turns bashing the opposing party, a vote would be held and everyone voted along party lines. That’s when I decided the party system was critically flawed. I refuse to believe that all of those Senators agree with his/her party on every issue. In spite of what people say, I choose to believe that these are relatively intelligent people. Unfortunately that doesn’t matter if they vote the party line instead of what they really believe is best. Without a party system we may actually have a governing body that thinks!

  15. Albert Says:

    I agree with all the above, but my stupid question is: how do we come up with presidential candidates….how do they get nominated?

    • Amari D Says:

      I dont care if Im two years late…I think we could divide candidates by strong moral ideals (I really mean stuff dealing with people other than money and all its affiliations) and strong economic ideals. The last two standing would be chosen as President and Vice President. That way itd be balanced. I just think those in power should come to power because they care enough about the people to try to change,modify, and keep what ever is necessary to bring this country to its optimal glory. Also…i think candidates (of any position) should tested or observed for their abililty(or capacity) to be geniune, self-less(or at least not extremely selfish), and able to think beyond duality(among other good human qualities).

  16. David Plunkett Says:

    I thought about that. I’m sure we could come up with a system that could get us at least two candidates. It could be as simple as odd birth years vs. even birth years. All we really w
    ant is a choice.

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