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Personally, I’d like to abolish political parties

© Ben Garrison

According to a survey by Rasmussen Reports, most voters expected Republicans to win control of the House of Representatives. But what is really ironic is that — even before the election — 59% think it is likely that most voters will be disappointed with the Republicans in Congress before the elections in 2012. Voters believe that it is likely that Republicans will try to repeal the national health care reform bill, but that it is unlikely that government spending will go down with the GOP in charge of the House. The bottom line is most voters didn’t think there will be a big change in their lives if Republicans take control of Congress.

How jaded have we become to vote for a party that we don’t even believe in?



  1. ebdoug wrote:

    It would be feasible to do away with political parties. A candidate would form a PAC and take it from there. Get the required signatures and get on the ballot.
    We had the “rent is too damn high” party (of one) on the ballot this year. He got votes because it made people laugh.
    Sarah Palin wouldn’t need a party.
    Jon Stewart wouldn’t need a party.
    Wouldn’t that confuse the Little old ladies (of which I’m one) going to the polls and not being able to vote straight ticket?

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 6:35 am | Permalink
  2. Jason Ray wrote:

    I agree with EBDoug, although even though I love Jon Stewart I wouldn’t want him as President 🙂

    The only challenge with taking the PAC route (and by the way, I am strongly considering doing exactly that to have an “average American” voice) is that ultimately to get things done we must have a large enough coalition of support. The party structure creates leverage for “automatic” coalitions – well, it does if you are Republican, anyway. If there were no defined groups, then the process of getting enough support would be much more problematic and likely even less coherent than what we have now.

    Personally I would prefer to take technology into account and create an entirely different system, but I suspect it just isn’t feasible to implement. It would be the best answer though 🙂

    That leaves us the only other option – finally admit that two big parties and a bunch of tiny small parties is not serving us well, and try to create a real multi-party system where no single group has enough presence to completely dominate the debate. Let the Tea Party split off, let the religious right split off, let the radical liberals split off, and maybe the remnants of the Democrats and Republicans can better represent the average voter.

    I would be happier about that approach if it worked, but looking at other examples around the world it might not be any improvement at all. But what other options do we have?

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 8:22 am | Permalink
  3. Michael wrote:

    Many people will oppose abolishing parties as too radical a move. So here is my suggestion for a transitional step: Ban party affiliation from ballots. Parties can still pick their candidates and fund them as they desire, but straight-party ticket voting would become significantly harder. Couple that with automatic run-off until a single candidate wins a majority of votes.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 9:50 am | Permalink
  4. Bert wrote:

    The only way a partyless or poly-party system would work is if we can implement a plurality voting system. Those work much better, but the rallying cry against them is always that the uneducated masses see it as voting multiple times.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 11:56 am | Permalink
  5. Falkelord wrote:

    The reason doing away with political parties isn’t feasible is a multi-pronged argument:

    In civics, they teach you the reason we have two dominant parties: they absorb the issues of the smaller parties that form. We saw this very clearly with the Tea Party; the Republicans directed their anger into their own party. Now the founder is telling the Tea Party to “go fuck themselves” because they’ve all bought into the Republican anger.

    The movement was anti-Republican AND anti-Democrat. It wasn’t just the latter. But since it got hijacked, it has turned into mainly an anti-Democrat machine. And you saw this on election day. Rand Paul and Marco Rubio even said it: We’re not here for a Republcian victory, we’re here for an American victory.

    Secondly, the system has always facilitated a two-party system. How many times, in the 200+ history of this country, have we seen someone from the “minor” parties elected? I’m speaking of course, not of Federalists or Whigs, because at the time, they were the major “parties”. In fact, the Whig party was essentially formed IN RESPONSE TO ANGER AT JACKSONIAN POLITICS.

    Finally, what would replace the system? A party-less system is somewhat unfeasible, because people tend to group. No. Matter. What. Always. This is human nature. A ban on political parties would just create a new system in which people will group together under PACs or certain issues. This would, certainly, create a multi-party system, but this could only further fracture the nation, not foster any debate whatsoever. Imagine a world in which the President is pro-gun, elected solely on the NRA ticket. The only reason these people would be elected is because they align themselves with one issue, instead of multiple issues. It’s a political party, light. Either that, or the country would fracture, and slowly begin to come back together when they realize “oh hey, I like guns AND not having abortions, let’s make a coalition.”

    I would love to abolish the two party system. I really would. But I just don’t see any clear replacement for it or the media fanfare that goes with it.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 12:22 pm | Permalink
  6. Michael wrote:

    Falkelord, I agree with everything you said, which is why I think my proposal strikes a nice balance. People are still free to form coalitions, parties, whatever. However, not listing party affiliations on the ballot provides a barrier to mindless straight-party voting.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 12:40 pm | Permalink
  7. pfemm wrote:

    I like the idea of taking the party affiliation off of ballots…

    It would at least make people learn the names of the people they’re going to vote for and maybe even compel to learn a little more.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 1:10 pm | Permalink
  8. Sammy wrote:

    If we did away with the current legalized bribery that is campaign financing, we probably wouldn’t need to do away with either political party, and some of the smaller ones might gain some hold. The NFL has a salary cap, and it’s doing quite well, thankyouverymuch.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 3:09 pm | Permalink
  9. ebdoug wrote:

    The President of the United states makes $400K with perks like free house; although he has to pay for his house in Chicago. Name me an NFL player who makes less. A few in baseball make less than the POTUS.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
  10. patriotsgt wrote:

    Ebdoug the minimum wage in the NFL is still 175K I believe and there are a surprising number of players who make that salary. Of course mainly they are backup players or ones who don’t get alot of playing time.

    Now here’s one – how about any politician who is a millionaire already, donate their salary back to gov to show they are for the little guy (like Arnold and Blumberg). That should mean about half of the 2 houses, the cabinet and the president could give back and live off their millions and official perks.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 6:15 pm | Permalink
  11. BTN wrote:

    I like Michael and Bert’s suggestions. They are also fairly easy to implement. Now only if we can get the politicians to agree to that…

    No high-level politician (govornor, reps, senators, president etc.) ever has to work again. Even if you ignore the outrageously generous pension/benefits packages, they can get paid to make speeches or sit on corporate boards, etc.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 6:24 pm | Permalink
  12. ZJD wrote:

    While abolishing the political parties isn’t really feasible, I think having a third prominent party could drastically alter the political landscape (for the better). Imagine! Instead of deciding between the lesser of two evils, the likelihood would increase by 50% that a potential (I mean actually potential) candidate would reflect your opinions and could enact comprehensive legislation. I don’t think that’s feasible either, however, because let’s face it – most Americans have a hard enough time as is doing the electoral equivalent of flipping a coin.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 7:48 pm | Permalink
  13. Iron Knee wrote:

    While it would be virtually impossible to eliminate political parties (they would just call them something else) there are simple things that could be done to encourage new political parties, so that would could change from a two party system to a multi-party system. As has been often pointed out, parliamentary systems (rather than our “winner take all” system) often have multiple parties that share power in coalition governments.

    One could easily imagine other changes that would increase the number of parties. For example (and I’m not suggestion any of these, I’m just pointing out that they would end the two party tyranny) you could prevent political parties from operating across state lines. Or you could limit the size of political parties by limiting their total budgets, or the number of candidates they can contribute money to.

    I’m just saying that there are lots of things that could be done to limit the size and power of political parties, just as anti-trust laws can (potentially) be used to limit the size and power of companies, and laws against owning too many media outlets used to work to limit corporate control over the media. The only problem is that political parties and corporations now have so much power that they would not allow any of that power to be taken away. And yet, if we do not find a way to limit their power, I fear for the future of our democracy.

    Thursday, November 4, 2010 at 9:43 pm | Permalink
  14. steeve wrote:

    Taking the party names off the ballots won’t work as long as politicians vote in herds.

    Right now it’s impossible to rationally elect any republican to national office at all, even if they’re “one of the good ones”, because they’ll just be rolled up into the insanity caucus.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 4:11 am | Permalink
  15. patriotsgt wrote:

    The fastest way, I believe, to get viable new parties up to the level of R’s and D’s is to vote for these other parties. It might be easier to convince voters they have the power to change our political playing field then convincing washington to change anything. Imagine the message that would be sent to both parties if in NV all the voters cast ballots for an Independant, Green, Constitutional or other party and neither Reid nor Angle got more then 10% of the vote after all the money both sides spent on those 2 candidates?

    The people do have the power and they could change the landscape in 2 years.

    Friday, November 5, 2010 at 5:56 am | Permalink
  16. Communist wrote:

    Nice. Very nice.

    Tuesday, June 7, 2011 at 9:04 am | Permalink