“Not Alone in Thinking Stronger Political Parties Will Improve Our Politics”

This piece, from the Executive Director of the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, makes good use of my recent work showing how outside spending groups increase internal party conflicts. Some excerpts:

“McCain/Feingold is what started the stampede toward the creation of independent, outside groups; a development that resulted in less transparency and less accountability in the area of campaign finance (2010).”

“In the years between McCain/Feingold and 2010, U.S. Supreme Court decision in Citizens United v FEC, independent spending grew over 1,000 percent . . . so in the wake of McCain/Feingold there has been a seismic shift in the electoral landscape. There has been tremendous growth in independent groups along with a rapid decline in transparency (2012).”

“But in truth the demise of the political party system represents the abdication of an important quasi-governmental institution that has proven to be a significant part of our civil society (2019)”

“Despite Americans holding a long and deep skepticism toward political parties, ironically it could be the parties that restore stability to our polarized political environment (2019).”

“The Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (BCRA) often referred to as McCain/Feingold, was enacted in 2002. Though well meaning, McCain/Feingold sparked the rise in dark money spending and a spate of legal action (2020).”

“Despite the antipathy toward political parties that can be traced to the founding of the Republic, political parties, which help elected officials work together and find common ground, may be just the antidote for these highly partisan and combustible times (2020).”…

As argued in numerous columns, a stronger party system can indeed help to soften the divisions that exist in our politics today.  Disciplined political parties organize majorities in government that are crucial to governing.  As long-standing institutions, political parties provide a training ground for leadership by allowing individuals to learn about the relationship between elections and governance, and to gain experience necessary for bringing people together on behalf of the public good.

Political parties also encourage leaders to work together, creating an environment that promotes compromise and establishment of majorities.  Unlike independent groups, which often promote single-issue politics, parties organize the executive, legislative, and even judicial functions of government, thereby providing a means by which public policies can be enacted.

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