The Parties Fight Back Against Political Fragmentation

In my Washington Post essay I blogged about recently here, I argued that political fragmentation of the political parties is the danger to focus on if we are worried about the capacity of our political institutions to govern effectively.  My claim, which certainly runs against the grain of a lot of popular alienation from the parties, is that the solution to fragmentation is creating ways to empower the forces of centralization in the parties.  Perhaps counter-intuitively, only if party leaders have the leverage to force party members to accept the leadership’s position on major policy issues are we likely to see legislation in our world of polarization and divided government.  I offered some legal and policy reforms that would push back against political fragmentation, but suggested this push back might also happen organically.  Today’s NY Times story provides the most powerful evidence so far that the party leadership on the Republican side is indeed starting to bring out every weapon at its disposal to fight back against this fragmentation.  My claim, if this is effort is successful, is that it will actually make it easier to enact major legislation, such as on immigration, than if the party leaders cannot enforce unity on their caucuses.

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