Thursday, June 14, 2012

Partisan Politics

Partisan politics in America has been gaining ground and growing phenomenally in recent years due to citizen political independence and disloyalty to party politics. Partisan politics is the cause of many social divisions and the death of coalitions. It sets a dangerous precedent when people are divided along socio-economic statuses, religious denominations, racial belonging, gender and sex, and political and religious affiliation among other factors. Partisanship in the political arena is more visible in the Republican Party that has been afflicted by resistance, dissent, and erosion of political ideals. Unequal distribution of resources, growing influence of business magnates, proliferation of interest groups, and racial divisions necessitated the breakup of political bipartisanship.
Political participation and bipartisanship can be effective tools when it comes to bringing people together to share their political ideals and hammer out their differences. Carsey and Layman (2006) contend that partisanship has been perceived by various scholars as informational and a bulletin that can be used as a shortcut to interpreting party and issue preferences. It is dangerous when parties get caught up in gridlocks and fail to steer important national issues. Baker (1984) argues that republicanism pinpointed the dangers posed by power to the advancement of liberty and admonished the significance of joining together in unity for the stability of institutions. With unsolvable colliding political differences becoming the norm, partisanship, negative policy attitudes, and casual relationships dissipate from the democratic spectrum. Even among states, there are visible disproportional distribution of parties with religious, racial, status and class being the cause.

The decline seen in parties is according to Hetherington (2001), attributed to political independence. Americans have become neutral when favoring one party over the other (Hetherington, 2001). Gender gaps or voting behavior seen among men and women of voting age and noted in modern political commentaries never existed prior to the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980 (Kaufmann & Petrocik, 1999). Partisanship emerges when party leaders, party platforms, and candidates take different directions eventually leaving party followers in confusion. Political parties are falling into traps owned by business magnates that have the power to manipulate political settings of any party. A story is related by Hudson (2009) of the powerful car magnate and how he was able to stage-manage the town of Pullman in Illinois. Pullman governed the people and the town according to his wishes. The same applies to political parties that are subservient to big corporations. In fact these corporations have a hand in the alienation of societies and the division of party members. Bickering of party members and their failure to agree on important national issues is responsible for the existing partisanship that is degrading the selfless discussions that would lead to policy formulations. According to Fiorina and Abrams (2008) literature review of party polarization started a few years ago and that in 2004, a map that appeared after the elections branded red states as ‘Jesusland’ while labeling a combination of blue states with Canada, the ‘United States of Canada’.


Baker, P. (1984). The domestication of politics: Women and American political society, 1780-1920. The American Historical Review, Vol. 89, No. 3, 620-647

  Carsey, T.M. & Layman, G.C. (2006). Changing sides or changing minds? Party identification and policy preferences in the American electorate. American Journal of Political Science, Vol. 50, No. 2, pp. 464-477

Fiorina, M.P. & Abrams, S.J. (2008). Political polarization in the American public. Annual Review of Political Science, Vol. 11, pp. 563-588

Hetherington, M.J. (2001). Resurgent mass partisanship: The role of elite polarization. The American Political Science Review, Vol. 95, No. 3

Hudson, W.E. (2009). American democracy in peril: Eight challenges to America’s future. Washington, DC: CQ Press.

Kaufmann, K.M. & Petrocik, J.R. (1999). The changing politics of American men: Understanding the sources of the gender gap. American Journal of political Science, Vol. 43, No. 3, pp. 864-887

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