Is our two party system working today? We currently have a two party system. Whether it is a functional two party system is questionable.
When George Washington was elected he was only one of many who was opposed to having political parties. Nevertheless our country evolved to having a political party system. Early on, Thomas Jefferson named his group of followers the Democratic Republican Party. Years later, we have a Democratic Party and a Republican Party. Are both parties loyal to the country’s betterment or are they more concerned about just merely winning an election?
England our parent country, has a three to four party system with most of its citizens belonging to either the Conservative Party or the Labor Party. They have a parliamentary system of government. When one of the two parties lose an election, the party out of power becomes the loyal opposition. Each political party is duty bound to be loyal to England and the Queen. Each major political party in England has an ideology upon which their policy recommendations and ideas for governing the nation come from. The winning party pretty much gets its way after victory because their party hold the majority of seats in Parliament. If for some reason the winning party upsets the public sufficiently enough new elections are called for. England does not have filibusters or holds, parliamentary tricks to delay for consideration bills that are meant to address the issues of the day.
Without realizing it, the American political party system has evolved into a parliamentary system without any of the benefits. When you have the most conservative member of Congress being more liberal than the most liberal member of the Republican Party, my friends, our party system has changed.
If we could agree on the premise that both of our political parties are more ideologically based today, perhaps the parties should be more appropriated named the Liberal Party and the Conservative Party. We could even further emulate the British system and have a party system to where the parties would be the Liberal Party, the Republican Party and a party similar to the new Independent Party in England. It would seem that would be more honest and less confusing.
Regardless of the names we give each political party the question comes to mind are our political parties when out of power loyal to the United States. Or are they more concerned with being the party of no, with no national interest in mind but just political gain. We need a loyal opposition, loyal to the national interest and not just loyal to partisan gain.
Just as importantly how do we define conservative and liberal? For if you are to have a party system that is honest in it’s ideology and be a loyal opposition when out of power than each political party should be more clearly defined so that a voter can more clearly understand what a party stands for and understand why they are voting for a particular party. I know that it is hard to believe but some people believe that there is no difference between the political parties. If the political parties are clearly defined than any ambiguity would disappear.
The modern Conservative movement has developed since the end of World War II. Is the party truly a conservative party? Can we define what a conservative is? I frankly don’t know what a conservative is any more and I defy anyone to give a definition of what it is. I fondly remember a historical past when Edmund Burke defined what a conservative is. Right now at this point in our history the current Republican Party seems to define, what a reactionary is. If they can define what they are for it would be helpful to all of us.
As a political science major back in the 1960’s, I always appreciated Barry Goldwater. I disagreed with him on most occasions but I thought he was an honorable man who loved his country. Most importantly, Goldwater had a good definition of what a conservative is. He wrote two books, “The Conscience of a Conservative,” and ” Conscience of a Majority.” In “Conscience of a Majority,” he began to define what for him was a conservative. ” The solutions to the problems of today can be found in the proven values of the past.” “In its simplest terms, conservatism is economic, social, and political practices based upon the successes of the past.” He stressed how important it was to not debase human dignity. He continued in his definition by stating that: Politics is the art of achieving the maximum amount of freedom for individuals that is consistent with the maintenance of social order.”
John Dean once asked him about poverty and whether it debased human dignity. He answered by saying ” Of course it does.” He went on to say that if friends, family and charities are not sufficient to do the job than government must. He was my kind of conservative. He was a patriot more concerned about what was best for the country. He was part of the loyal opposition.
Now the current Republican Party is made up of the Wall Street, big business types, social conservatives with fundamentalist and evangelical factions, a growing libertarian wing of the party, and neo-cons in the realm of foreign policy. It is hard to find a loyal opposition in the tent that is the Republican Party.
We have divided government with an ideologically tinged party system that is totally dysfunctional except in its success to make sure that nothing gets passed or done to remedy the problems that we have. Is it too much to ask of our political leaders to disavow partisan gain for what is best for the nation?
If we don’t either redefine ourselves and admit that our system is not working, or attempt to go back to a bi-partisan approach to governance our Republic is either dying and on life support or it is dead.
If we like the format of having a party system that is ideologically based than let us emulate the British system and have a parliamentary system.
We need to have a political system where our elected officials are loyal to what is best for the country and not what is best for partisan gain. If we take the warnings of James Madison seriously, than we need to take seriously his admonition based upon his historical knowledge. He stated in Federalist #10 that all Republics in history ended due to excessive factionalism. Isn’t that what we have now?