Why We Need Political Parties (It’s a Necessary Evil Sort of Thing)
So, I’ll just say it: this post isn’t going to be as fun as the one about the cool reforms of the Progressive Party. Lots of people hate either the Republicans or Democrats or both, and I think everyone’s a bit bitter about partisan gridlock and mudslinging and excessive campaigning and so forth.
But sadly, we do need them. Here are the reasons why, according to my textbook and my professor for my college politics course:
- Although parties do cause gridlock, they’re also very important in getting things done. If you’re going to get a law passed in the House of Representatives, for example, you’re going to need a coalition of members to do that. Without parties controlling the agenda of what gets voted on in the House, any member could attempt to siphon votes from the winning coalition with an amendment (Kollman 454). And then another member could do the same with a new amendment, and so forth, which is called coalition cycling (Kollman 454).
- Parties play a major role in helping candidates raise money for their campaigns, deal with public relations, and turn out the vote (Kollman 457). These efforts do encourage us to become more engaged with politics.
- Parties coordinate voters through primary elections that ensure that a group’s votes won’t be split between two similar candidates for the general election (Kollman 459). Some states even have “sore loser” laws that keep candidates who lose party primaries from running under another party or as an independent (Kollman 460).
- Parties provide intellectual categories for people to vote for. Plenty of people don’t stay well informed about politics, but you can know a lot about a candidate based on what party they’re from (although I have to say, I think voting based solely on a candidate’s party is a pretty bad idea…) (Kollman 462).
- Parties give us specific groups to hold accountable (Wolf).
There are probably more reasons, but this is depressing. Why can’t I just rail on how terrible parties are and how we should get rid of them? If we have to have a political party, can we start a modern version of the Progressive Party? (Who is the modern version of Theodore Roosevelt, I wonder?)
Kollman, Ken. The American Political System. 3rd ed., W. W. Norton & Company, Inc., 2017.
Wolf, Greg. “Partisanship.” Drake University, 21 Apr. 2021, Des Moines.