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May 23, 2006

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Here, here! No parties. No more than two terms. No more than two weeks per session. And for every new law passed, two laws must be stricken from the books, until we get the code down to something roughly the size of the Eugene phone book.

And we'll go from there. :)

Let's see, where was I in January? Oh yeah:

Poly Sci 107: If you do away with parties, you hardly do away with special interests. You simply create individual, rather than group (party) magnets, for the special interests. If the Republican Party had exercised more discipline over Duke Cunningham or the Democratic Party over William Jefferson, perhaps they would have been less susceptible to the special interest bribes they took.

Poly Sci 108: When it's bad, it's a "special interest." When it's good, its a "pet cause." Aren't you part of a special interest (oops, I mean pet cause) group to keep Walmart out of Sellwood? Would you be as effective if you were doing this alone -- i.e. without the support of the group?

Poly Sci 109: Now suppose you were to run for the state legislature and one of your campaign promises was to keep Walmart out of Oregon. Would you not seek funding for your campaign from your special interest (oops, pet cause) group? And once elected, wouldn't you try to enlist the support of other legislators for your cause, hence creating a like-minded group of legislators that, by any other name, would be called a political party? You can't get things done by standing all alone on a mountaintop and shrieking. You've got to get down in the mud with rest of the folks and form groups. Call 'em whatever you'd like. I like to call them political parties.

But we seem to be stuck with two --count 'em, TWO-- ossified and institutionalized parties, whose main concern appears to be raising more money to elect more members of to public office. To what end?

By your logic, the Portland City Council, the Multnomah County Commission, or the Nebraska unicameral non-partisan legislature would never get anything done.

Candidates should be elected to office on issues, not party label. If we're going to have political parties, maybe we should adopt a system that evens the playing field and allows minor party candidates a sporting chance of winning an election.

Right now, a parliament sounds good.

Poly Sci 110: As I said in January, the principal objective of any political party is, indeed, to elect its members. And voters do, indeed, tend to vote for candidates by label -- Democrat or Republican. But what's behind the label? Dare I say issues? Although things are less clear now, when we were growing up, there was a fairly clear distinction between the parties on issues. R's were for smaller government, less regulation, fewer programs, lower taxes and/or a more regressive tax structure. D's were for more government intervention to resolve economic or social problems, often meaning higher taxes and certainly a more progressive tax rate, and more regulation of things like air pollution, workplace safety, and food safety. If you voted for a Republican, you tended to get one package. If you voted for a Democrat you tended to get another. Thus, voters were, in fact, voting on issues -- issues articulated through the platforms of political parties.

A parliamentary system would, using your own standards, make things worse, not better. As I said above, egislators in the U.S. -- federal and state level -- tend to vote with their party, but are not obligated to do so. This is why you have pro-choice and pro-life Congress people in both parties, for example. In a parliamentary system, legislators are far more likely to vote with their party because if the majority party loses on a major issue, the government falls and the legislators lose their jobs.

As does the Prime Minister. Under our system, we're stuck with Bush for two and a half more years.

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