Party-Based vs. Policy-Based Politics
by Trevor Hopkins on Friday, December 5th, 2014
In politics, candidates often feel conflicted about whether they should conform completely to the beliefs of whatever political party identify with or branch out from that restricting system and fight for what they truly believe in for each specific issue. There is a lot of pressure for candidates to support the policies of a specific party and campaign under the name of “Republican” or “Democrat” in order to gain the support of certain voters. In order to receive funding, candidates must often turn to party backers who look for candidates that support all the opinions of the party rather than a few here and there. For a variety of reasons, it can be dangerous for a candidate to move outside the party boundaries in his or her political views and risk not receiving the essential capital to run a campaign. This unfortunate situation encourages the binary, liberal-versus-conservative school of thought and, as a result, the seemingly unbreachable split between the left and the right in current American politics. To make true progress in politics, I believe we need to begin thinking differently, and policy-based politics can help America progress.
George Washington, in his famous farewell address, warned his successors against the dangers of political parties, thinking they would inevitably split the country down the middle. Party-based politics have become more and more divisive since he left office, and, there is currently a growing breach between the Democrats and Republicans in Congress that helps them to accomplish next to nothing.
Policy-based politics allow a candidate to approach political issues without the influence of political parties. For example, instead of conforming to the general Republican belief that abortion should be illegal, a conservative candidate who believes in a woman’s right to choose but also believes in the economic policies of his party could support both policies, instead of having to choose one over the other. As parties become too narrow-minded to accommodate the diversity in Americans’ political views, this possible set-up is much more realistic. There is a reason that terms such as economically conservative and socially liberal exist; individuals’ opinions on public issues often cross the line between Republican and Democrat. For instance, if taxation is being discussed, someone may identify more with right-wing thinkers and then switch to a more left-wing stance when discussing gay marriage.
This kind of thinking is becoming more and more common as certain political ideas, many of them Republican, become outdated. Democrats are criticized for their economic stances but have seen widespread support for their social ideologies. While Republican fiscal policies are widely accepted, more and more people are turning away from deep-seated Republican social prejudices regarding issues such as gay marriage, abortion, and equal opportunity for women. Whereas a party-based political system would force Republican candidates to support these social policies regardless of how they felt, policy-based politics would allow them to pick and choose which Republican policies they support and which they don’t. Conversely, voters who strongly believe that taxes must be raised in order to reduce national debt but also don’t believe in equal rights for all, regardless of sexual orientation, can support both policies rather than just one.
However, even independents, often regarded as being able to flip-flop between political ideologies, face great problems getting elected. These candidates, though many voters agree with them, face problems in funding, guaranteeing votes, and struggle finding enough power to push their own ideologies in Congress or other political institutions. An alternative needs to be found so people with conflicting views on various topics can vote for everything they support, rather than what they deem most important.
With the evolving opinions—many of them social—in our nation, the old party-based system simply doesn’t fit the country anymore. Forcing political figures to support either one set of beliefs or the other is inefficient and extremely difficult in a nation with such a diverse population and political views. We must change directions and head towards a future where the lines between parties are far more blurred than they are at present if we want to any productive steps towards a brighter future for our country.
Short URL: http://miltonmeasure.org/?p=6643