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Partisian Politics is Killling America?(16 posts)

Partisian Politics is Killling America?Nopartiyman
Feb 5, 2002 10:34 AM
What you think? Yes or now. It seems that there are basically 2 views now in America--the GOP and the Dems--if you're running as a moderate or you don't toe the party line you are out. This can't be good for America. Even the most staunch GOP or Dem can't believe everything their party stands for. What are the parties good for in the end other than stifling America!
What's the alternative?Dog
Feb 5, 2002 10:49 AM
It's always been that way, from Day One. Alternatives include dictatorships, monarchies, pure democracies, or multi-party republics.

Countries with multiple parties and no majorities tend to change directions over night as factions form and re-form, leading to a great deal of instability.

Any suggestions?

I love this kind of discussionMcAndrus
Feb 5, 2002 11:53 AM
For better or worse, this is how our system is supposed to work. It is how it was designed by Madison, Jefferson, and those guys.

I'm always amused by people who find that our politicians are practicing politics! "There's gambling going on in this establishment. I'm shocked, shocked!"

The only founder I can remember who was against party politics was Washington who didn't like them but the rest of them fell into partisan camps pretty quickly.

If they are stifling America, what is the alternative? And please present an alternative that can be put into practice. A third party ala Nader, Perot, Teddy Roosevelt, can be a force for change but the last time a third party actually got traction and stuck around was the Republicans in 1856 (I think).

Actually, I sound a little more harsh than I intend so insert some weenie words where appropriate, please.
so the bottom line isDave Thomas
Feb 5, 2002 12:34 PM
It's not that great of a system, but what can a guy do? Sounds like a defeatist attitude to me. Suppose as long as you're a rich white male you can afford to keep supporting the good ole boys club.
Churchill and I agreeMcAndrus
Feb 5, 2002 2:03 PM
Actually I think it's the best system of government yet devised. And nothing yet devised by humans is perfect.

I'm going to mangle a Winston Churchill quote but I believe he said that democracy was a horrible form of government, until you compared it to all the rest.
America is alive and wellhms
Feb 5, 2002 11:58 AM
Your post implies that the Democratic and Republican parties are much more rigid and orthodox than they really are. I do not dispute that life in the middle of the road can be hard for members of both parties. And, there are some issues for which certain views are almost a must (look at what has happened to pro-choice Republicans and pro-life Democrats). But, the parties do leave room for dissent. For example, there has been no noticeable discipline of the Republican representatives who did not vote to impeach Bill Clinton or the Republican senators who did not vote to convict him. On the Democratic side, enough Democrats sided with President Reagan to enable most of his legislative initiatives to pass.

To the extent that there is party orthodoxy, it does serve the function of keeping the other side honest. Maybe I am betraying my professional bias (I'm a lawyer), but I think that you are more likely to get the correct result when you have two, well-focused adversaries than when adversaries are not focused.
Take a look elsewheremr_spin
Feb 5, 2002 12:14 PM
If you think two parties are bad, check out some other nations. Places like Germany, Italy, France, Israel, etc. have lots of parties, and unless one party has a decent majority, you end up with a coalition government. On certain hot button issues, you really see partisan politics run amok. How many governments has Italy had since WWII? It averages almost one a year!

More parties won't help. What we need are more decent, honest, and trustworthy candidates and representatives. I don't know where you get people like this who would want to place themselves in the crosshairs of our current cynical media-driven system. How many good people can't run because they didn't know they were supposed to pay social security taxes on their nanny?

We also need serious campaign reform. So many people are priced out of running because of the costs involved in modern day campaigns. And that's why candidates end up selling themselves to the highest bidder.

It's a sad state of affairs, but it's still the best one around.
Campaign reformPaulCL
Feb 5, 2002 12:51 PM
I agree on that one.

Limit all contributions. Maybe, and I really hesitate typing this...have the federal government pick up the tab for each campaign. Gulp. Instead of the feds, maybe just very strict limits on all campaigns regardless of where the money comes from. This would prevent some billionaire (as seen recently in NYC and LA) from 'buying' an election.

Maybe, just maybe, a level playing field would attract more quality people who want to spend their time serving instead of fundraising.
the problem with "reform"Dog
Feb 5, 2002 1:27 PM
The problem with campaign reform is that everyone is going to try to reform the process so that it works better for them or their party. Democrats likely will want to limit corporate contributions, but not union contributions, and count on lots of small contributions, as they have more registered voters, or rely upon tax money (nothing new there). Republicans may want no change, but if so, may want to limit individual contributions.

These may not be totally correct, but may show how everyone will want to manipulate the system to suit them. Trust that no one is going to take a disinterested, objective look at the system and do what is "right," regardless of the effect on their party, unless they are politically nuts (yes, there are a few).

Limiting contributions or spending usually has the effect of helping the party in power (it takes more $ to overcome status quo), or helping the party in bed with the media, whichever one that may be, and the effect may be very subtle. I'm sure many in the press would love spending or contribution limits, as that shifts more power to them as they report the "news." With less money to get the message out, politicians would be at the mercy of the press. These are not simple issues.

Also keep in mind that money cannot necessarily "buy" an election. What happened to Forbes and Perot? In the end, ideas, even if not sincere, win elections.

Feb 5, 2002 1:57 PM
I don't believe ideas win elections. These days elections are won by the person who appeals to the largest amount of voters and makes the fewest mistakes on the campaign trail. Smile for the camera, commit to nothing, talk in abstracts, and don't say anything that hasn't been carefully scripted.

These days, appealing to voters often has very little to do with ideas. Or at least with reasonable and implementable ideas. It's all about pressing the right buttons. What passes for ideas is often pie-in-the-sky stuff that doesn't have a chance of passing or that can never get funded.

And then there are the non-issues that have become so important. A classic is abortion. Right now Governor Davis (of California) is running ads accusing Richard Riordan of being anti-abortion, which he likely is. So what? Last I heard the Supreme Court said abortion is legal. End of story. The Governor of California has absolutely no say in the matter. So why is this even an issue? It's an issue only because it pulls people in one direction or another, depending on their own personal stance.

This is what elections have become--the polar opposite of ideas. Candidate X, who could be the next Jefferson, Churchill, or Lincoln, ends up spending all his time fighting battles that don't even matter. I wish they would stick to issues that might actually apply to the job of Governor and the great state of California.

Pardon my cynicism. I used to believe in the romantic notion of serving your country. But it's all a game right now.
the problem with "reform"hms
Feb 5, 2002 2:02 PM
Sometimes it is hard to predict how "reform" will impact a party or group. For example, one would think that a lilmit on large contributions would help Democrats and hurt Republicans. But, some very conservative Republicans, like Jesse Helms, have raised huge sums in small contributions. On the other hand, there are groups of liberal, but wealthy contributors who would bankroll Democrats if there were no limits (remember Bill Clinton's fundraising successes in the entertainment industry?). But, the one thing that I can predict is that any political organization or candidate that has at least half of a brain eventually will find a way to get around any meaningful limits. "Soft money" will be replaced with something just as odious. At the end of the day, the best "reform" may be to throw out all limits on campaign finance and rely upon disclosure alone to protect the public.
Amen, brother. (nm)js5280
Feb 5, 2002 2:08 PM
the problem with "reform"PaulCL
Feb 5, 2002 6:28 PM
You have a good point. Limiting campaign contributions or putting a limit on total campaign spending would be difficult in a Presidential election, true. But a cap of some sort on local or statewide elections - those most influenced by large differentials of spending money- would have an effect on the outcome.

It's tiresome to constantly witness the politician with the deepest pockets always winning regardless (or is that irregardless??) of their message. I also believe that limiting campaign funds or funding may limit the amount of negative advertising. Maybe I'm just suffering from wishful thinking on this one.

This is not a democrat or republican thing, just a fairness thing. I sounding like John McCain here or what???
Trouble is power attracts people who aren't decent, honest. . .js5280
Feb 5, 2002 2:05 PM
and trustworthy and those people will pull the sneaky, underhanded, stunts that pervade politics throughout history. It doesn't end w/ nannies! Power corrupts and American society seems more and more eager to give federal and state government's carte blanche to save the idiots, the children, or us from ourselves. Doing so is just chumming the waters and attracting exactly the wrong type of people. The people you see today and will continue to see. You want decent people in government, take away the power! That is the only way. The power hungry w/ go to no end to seize that power so they can reward themselves and their friends, and punish their enemies.

I dread the thought of campaign reform because you know that the parties in power (i.e. the Republi-crats) will put a final nail in the coffin of any other political group ever challenging them. Not that that's much different from what we have right now. It's not the election money politicians receive, it's the trillions of dollars in the public coffers that they get to dole out as they see fit!
re: Partisian Politics is Killling America?Me Dot Org
Feb 5, 2002 9:52 PM
One of the things that makes it worse is some of re-districting that has gone on in the last few decades.

I know some people will probably take offense to what I'm about to say.

In some states, in order to get more African American representation, congressional districts were redrawn so this would happen. And it did. But one of the unanticipated side effects is that some conservative districts that had pockets of liberal voters, and some liberal districts that had pockets of conservative voters no longer had the alloying effects of having a constinuency that was more multi-faceted. Districts could now be controlled by the 'true believers" in both parties.

There also used to be Southern conservative Democrats and Northern liberal Republicans. Each species is becoming pretty rare, almost extinct. When's the last time you saw a Republican as liberal as Lowell Weiker?

PAC money and negative campaigning has also hurt.

If you're a Republican you probably get mail asking you to contribute before the Godless Witches Covens make homosexual blood sacrifices mandatory in our public schools.

If you're a Democrat, you probably get mail asking you to contribute to stop the the establishment of Christian Sharp-Shooters as the state religeon.

Another thing that has happened is that both parties are (on certain issues) not willing to compromise. NOT because compromise is not feasible, but because NOT passing legislation can become a campaign (and fundraising) issue.

I think a lot of Americans are closer to the middle than their parties would like them to be. Let's face it: both parties want to demonize the other so they can raise more money.
After 34 years in political life, from SDS hellraisingscottfree
Feb 6, 2002 5:42 AM
in the 60s to political speechwriting for mainstream Democrats now, I can only say it's absolutely astonishing how well American democracy works.

People bitch and moan -- and properly so -- about the quality of their politicians. But it's simply amazing how accurately the winner of almost every race, at every level, reflects the fundamental makeup/wishes/desires/aspirations/worldview of the folks who went to the polls that day. It's equally astonishing how accurately they put all this into action once in office. Politicians don't get elected -- and stay elected --by running counter to the wishes of those who send them.

It's almost alchemically miraculous how a state Legislature (the political institution I'm most familiar with) is, in virtually every particular, a microcosm of the various districts around the state.

It's easy to criticize government; I like to trash it as well as the next fellow. But the fact is, WE ARE GOVERNMENT. All you got to do is vote. (If you don't vote, I'm less inclined to listen to your gripe, but that's another topic).