Monday, October 29, 2007

Partisanship is vile. What loss to this country...

Seriously. I see Republicans railing on Democrats and Democrats railing on Republicans. The fighting and partisanship is completely at odds with what our forefathers intended. Benjamin Franklin must be turning in his grave at the extreme partisanship that many Americans today profess.

I do not belong to a political party. Neither should you. This is not because I am Right and you are Wrong; rather, it is a simple matter of reason. Political parties inherently divide people into differing camps of rhetoric. This is self-evident. Also self-evident is that rhetoric snuffs out free thought and discussion.

For this reason, every time I see someone who proudly declares that they belong to one party or other, I will shake my head sadly at the sorrow state of our once great nation. Powerful we have become, but divisive and hostile. So sad, and so unnecessary.

Here are a few action items for you to help improve the political climate of our country:

  • Print and distribute flyers promoting nonpartisan discussion of an issue important to you.
  • Start a discussion club at your local coffee house.
  • Unregister yourself as a member of the political party you presently belong to.
  • Pick one hot issue and start a blog about it. Discuss all possible repercussions it could have.
  • Invite your family and friends to switch parties for a single month and give themselves wholeheartedly to the opposing lines of thought. Don't vote during this experiment though!
  • Read one of Benjamin Franklin's works. There are many, and your local library will have at least one.
  • Start a newsletter for your town that promotes nonpartisan exploration of issues.


Craig said...

I agree with your disliking of partisan politics. However, it is not clear to me how your ideal nonpartisan state could exist.

At least to my knowledge, nonpartisan states that come to mind include those where there is a single party or individual controls the government. Beyond that, governments with cohalition systems allow more variety when it comes to voting choices, but can also result in strange bed fellows when it comes to the formation of a coalition government.

The overall differences between the majority of the centrist democratic and republican parties are very subtle, yet are magnified by the politicians and media in order to differentiate from eachother. It's frankly disgusting the effect that this can have. For example, the recent republican upsurge is a direct result, in my mind, of 911 and the democrats having no option but to agree with the party in power. In a two party system, which is worse: sacrificing onto your morals and keeping some handle the government, or doing the right thing, losing the government, and ensuring that the opposite takes place?

Democratic politics are a tricky buisness, and I just don't see how we could make a change from the current system. Adding additional parties, as it is now, just ensures whichever party was fragmented will lose power. Unless there were to be some mass, centrist defection, things will remain as they are for a long, long time.

Ben Overmyer said...

The ideal nonpartisan state can probably only exist on a small scale, such as that of a city with a population under 150,000. I have to admit that.

That said, I don't think it's impossible to lessen the effect that partisan politics has on the political process itself. Systems with more parties tend, on the whole, to be less interested in radical change - probably for fear of losing seats. There's probably a mathematical way to represent that.

On the other hand, single-party systems such as Japan's are more susceptible to corruption or complacence since there is no real risk of loss from outside competitors.

So, given all this, what can we possibly do to make the American political process better? My list of action items still works for that purpose. Education is the best option; frequently, looking at what candidates really stand for rather than what their party stands for may be just enough.