I was reading an editorial by Paul Johnson in the May 8th, 2006 issue of Forbes magazine. He suggests that political parties are the root cause of most corruption in the world. He makes a strong argument, that in a democracy, parties limit the will of the people.
I personally think that the parties cause two things to happen. One they support a set of beliefs that are more likely influenced by those who finance the parties then the populist feelings and second, limit politicians to take standpoints that may not reflect their best judgement, or even common sense.
Unless you have the backing of a political party, you are for the most part, dead in the water. Especially in the US. You can’t fundraise, you can even get into primary elections. If we truly believed in a democracy, we would avoid the trappings of political parties. They are essentially sanctioned monopolies on the control of the government.
For example, if there were only two companies that controlled our grocery business across the country, the anti-trust suits would be going right now, and the Supreme Court would rule against them. In the US we only have two viable outlets to make our political purchase, and most the time, they have colluded behind our backs. In a lot of cases, they do their best, while still going after each other, to keep anyone else away from the podium. At least some power is better than no power.
Because of this nature, we find ourselves in a situation where our choices are limited. I don’t know how many times I have heard and personally felt that I was making the choice between the lesser of two evils. All the people I have great respect for are too extreme to make it all the way and whats left over are a bunch of nattering nabobs.
So, my solution… Outlaw political parties. I know that would be a fundamental change to the political process in the US, but it is the only way I know to fix it. Then hopefully people with real talent and leadership skills will float to the top. I know it is crazy, but it is just crazy enough it might work.