Political Polarization: Democracy In The United States

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Political polarization is hurting democracy in the United States. Polarization can be described as a shift towards the extremes, or poles, with each party on an opposite side. There is major ideological divide between the Republican and Democratic parties and the fallout from this divide is negatively affecting democracy. However, it is not just an ideological shift that has led to polarization. Polarization is not just a result of ideological differences between the two parties because factors, such as class based voting and religion, play a role in the divide between the political parties (Hetherington and Weiler 2009). There are two types of political polarization with one occurring at the elite level and the other at the mass level. Elite…show more content…
Party government is the best-case scenario involving political polarization. In party government, the two parties provide clear party platforms to the public and voters vote for the platform they like the best instead of for a particular candidate. All members of the winning party do everything in their power to make sure the platform is executed. Then, the public observes the results of the policies enacted by the majority party and decides whether to re-elect them or vote for the minority party (Rohde 1991). An example of party government in the United States is the Democrats of the 1970s and 1980s. Party government is appealing because it holds each party responsible, but it is the best-case scenario and not very likely to come about in today’s democracy. The rise of interest groups and use of political primaries make it unlikely that party government would be possible today. Interest groups hold more power than they did the 1970s and 1980s and party members are making too much money from these interest groups to make party government a viable option. Lobbyists sway the policy-making decisions of congressmen and self-interest will be put before party policy because it is unlikely this stream of money will be put aside in the name of the party. The other issue with party government in the United States is the political primary system. Unlike countries that have it in place such as Canada, voters pick the presidential candidates in the United States not the political parties due to the primary

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