Was America really ever supposed to have parties, or factions, as some called them at the founding of the republic? Yale political scientist, Ian Shapiro, first answers that question as a predicate to making the case that what our democracy really needs are stronger parties, primarily with more cohesion in Congress. Parties are designed for the long game. However, when they lack the ability to ‘whip’ their members into a agreement on core values then we flail away sending one party to the back bench, calling on the other and getting the same results–not much. The irony is that the more we democratize the party process, with primaries and caucuses, or end around it with single question referenda, the less happy we are with the results. Shapiro and co-author, Frances McCall Rosenbluth make a compelling argument for greater party discipline in the book, ‘Responsible Parties’.
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