The Weakening Of Representation And Policy Making: The Downfall Of Political Parties

1512 words - 6 pages

"It's a reflection of the political dynamic in America, where we don't look at America as a whole. We look at it through the red and blue prism” (Taylor, 1). The red and blue prism that Senator Olympia Snowe is referring to is the political parties that function in the United States. The current existence of political parties in America is a hindrance to effective representation of the people. Because of the lack of bipartisanship between the parties in Congress, the absence of compromise leads to gridlock in regards to passing legislations by members of Congress. In this paper, I will argue how the strengthening of political parties’ polarization in America—and the priority of party over constituents—contributed to a lack of effective representation and increased challenges to policy-making.
In the United States, members of Congress align themselves with party leaders over their constituents in order to get elected. The distinction between political parties causes members of Congress to associate themselves with a party in order to garner the subsequent benefits. Through public officials’ blatant lack of input for their constituency, it has been proven that members of Congress require party support in order to get re-elected, which feeds an endless cycle of catering to party ideals over the public. According to John Aldrich and David Rhode’s, The Logic of Conditional Party Government: Revisiting the Electoral Connection, they state that there are two party government strategies: party pressure and gatekeeping. Vulnerable members of Congress are placed in a tough position between listening to their constituents and their party. A political party is able to effectively pressure members of Congress to adhere to the values held by the party because vulnerable party members understand that they need fundraising and campaigning assistance. As for gatekeeping, the majority party is able to control what bills get to the floor. The majority party attempts to bring in legislations it wants, while keeping out policies that the minority party are in favor of. In this particular instance, gatekeeping works in the House because of the germane requirements, as well as restrictive rules (Aldrich and Rhode, 3). In the House during the 1970s, power shifted from committees back to the leadership. Eventually, the leadership became increasingly powerful where the party had a strong influence on campaigning. Evidence revealed that there was stronger party loyalty after the 1970s because of the reform (Aldrich and Rhode, 25). In the Senate, when parties are homogenous, legislations offered by both parties should be the same. However, when the respective distributions of opinions are different, which is the current situation, parties will not agree (Aldrich and Rhode, 270). Jonathan Allen of Politico mentions that senators no longer enjoy being in Congress anymore. They feel that they are not making any improvements because they are not necessarily representing their...

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