Thought About Political Gridlock

Posted: October 8, 2018 in Philosophy

I was wondering how we resolve the current (2018) political gridlock and polarization in the US.  It seems that national politics is in a state of hostility and working across party lines is a sure way to be defeated in the next election.  The parties value the success of their party now to such an extent that exercising power when in the majority and being obstructionist when in the minority is the rule.  We like to call out the hypocrisy of those who when in the minority ranted and railed about the practices of the majority only to exhibit that same shift-flip-flop when in the majority.  It is so bad, that most Americans have very low regard for national politicians even while re-electing those in their own identified party or simply failing to vote in disgust at the whole affair.

So, is there any resolution to this state of affairs?  I will admit that this suggestion would be difficult to achieve because of the lock the two-party system has on elections in the US.  It is one place that the two parties agree, locking out any other parties, rendering it very difficult for other parties to form and if formed to gain access to the electoral processes.  Yet, it occurs to me that one of the ways our political system might be improved is by the successful introduction of additional political parties.  OUCH, you might react.  How could it be better to have more of what we detest?

One of the problems is the growing inability of members of one of the two parties to cross the divide and work with the other party.  We are too polarized.  You would be defeated in the primary.  So, the party in power, if it can herd its members successfully, can control the legislative agenda so that we get partisan agendas, ones along the extremes, not ones in the center of our citizens’ willingness to support.  We get protests against all odds.  We get declining faith in our political institutions, no matter what party has power.

But suppose there were, in fact, multiple parties reflecting the many points of view in our society today.  It would then be necessary for the parties to form alliances in order to get things done.  In effect, politicians would have to make compromises in order to get the votes to pass legislation.  There might be a substantial party, but if it were not in an absolute majority, it would have to compromise with some members of other parties to gain support for legislation — similar to the parliamentary systems of Europe.  And compromise is a good thing, working across party lines.  Of course, there are no guarantees that this would improve the laws, but it would, in my opinion, offer a better chance.

It seems to me this might be worth exploring in today’s troubled environment.

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