Monday, December 28, 2009

Blog 17

Unhealthy Polarization

The American political system, since the first election for president after the creation of the Constitution in 1787, has been conducive to political parties.  As reluctant as the framers of the Constitution were, they could not prevent the formation of political parties.  Ever since then, party power has been a key tool in garnering political power.  However, this has led to an unhealthy role for parties in the everyday political system. From elections to legislation, parties exercise a large amount of control over their members.  This creates an unstable balance in which constituent’s wants and needs are underrepresented and unheard.  Which by and large minimizes the impressive agenda through which our system was created by allowing a party to control the members of Congress.

The most recent and atrocious example of this has been the chaos that is the proposed health care bill that is limping its way through Congress, like a grandma in a hurdles race.  Although this bill is a necessity for the welfare of the American people, many of the Republican candidates refused to vote for it because they did not want to upset their party leaders.  However, Republicans are not the only ones guilty of this, their Democratic counterparts admitted to doing the same thing while under Republican majority during the Bush years on issues related to increase federal borrowing.  The main reason for the strong party influence, especially with the house, lies in reelection.  Loyal incumbents are given money from their parties in addition to party affiliation.  While this ensures they are elected, if often means they are more concerned about pleasing their party leaders than their constituents.

The key to reducing party influence in Congress does not lie in abolishing the party system all together, which would in fact be impossible. Because the parties give voters alternatives and a chance to change, eliminating parties would reduce democracy and the freedom of choice. However, parties should have less influence in campaigning.  If the congress were to allocate campaign funds equally and restrict private campaign contributions, then candidates would be less reliant on the parties to get elected, and therefore more able to vote and legislate with accordance to how their constituents feel. 

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