Home > A3, Learning > Partisanship: Are we free?

Partisanship: Are we free?

In government, we investigated how Congress works. I was surprised about how human Congress runs and how we as individuals can affect our government’s decision so easily. I personally don’t care a great deal for political science, but was fascinated in how our political system is acts with logic while being chaotic.

Most people are unaware of how Congress works and are limited to what biased views are seen through the news. While Congress is seen as being chaotic, there are some scholars who have spent time to explain Congress to the populace of America. Woodrow Wilson, 28th president of the United States, wrote Congressional Government, a work that is well known for its effective and logical study of Congress. Wilson’s work helped me understand members of congress acted more human instead of ideal dream like the Constitution describes in saying that members of congress help make “laws [the purpose of the job] which shall be necessary and proper for carrying the execution [the powers Congress has]” (Article 1 Section 8). Congress has a great deal of power and that power is shared amongst hundreds of people. I thought that Congress always acted for the benefit of their community and now see understand that congress acts on their own ideas as well as working for the benefit of others. Wilson describes Congress as “hard to see satisfactorily and appreciatively at a single view and from a single standpoint [meaning that Congress takes a long time to come to a consensus on what is best for the nation]. Its complicated forms and diversified structure confuse the vision, and conceal the system which underlies its composition [meaning the mechanism of Congress is confusing and hidden, even though it can be seen]” (Congressional Government). Wilson says that Congress does work for the betterment of the community (as the system should work), but takes a long time to take action (because of all the debates that occur on the current issue). Wilson’s argument runs true and leads to the question why congress takes so long to act on issues. The problem of our Congress’ inability to immediately act upon issues rests upon our problem of partisanship.

Partisanship is the inclination to favor one view or opinion over others. Opinions allow for individuals to provide insight to community to help the group advance. However, political partisanship is where there is little compromise. Members of Congress are staunch in their opinions in order to gain support on certain issues from their community. Members who have certain opinions on issues are usually part of the same political party. These members look out for one another and see the opposite party as an hindrance (or an enemy) to their goals. The teamwork of partisanship helps pave way for new laws, but gain such a strong opposition at the same time the law gains notoriety. When congress has discussions on laws, there is little compromise from either political party to make the bill become a law. The partisan political parties destroy compromise and lead to more deceitful tactics that delay action. Members of Congress try to get around partisanship by splitting a law into smaller parts that are passed by Congress. These smaller laws are worded in order to confuse the other party and trick the opposition into passing the laws. The deceitful tactics of splitting up a law into smaller laws that do the same effect and wording the laws in order to confuse the enemy are fueled by partisan views. These partisan opinions rub against their opposite party (both fueled with partisan politics).

Partisanship is the source of our Congress’ delay to actions and America cannot live without it. The conclusion of partisanship being the source of political problem is a timeless fact that was written even in the early days of America with Federalist 10 by James Madison. Madison argues that faction (or partisanship) is the source of anarchy because groups are more powerful than the citizens. Wilson’s Congressional Government discusses how Congress has tried to avoid partisanship but has failed to escape its grasp.

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  1. May 5, 2012 at 10:30 am

    I’m not sure what you mean when you write that Congress runs “human” or Congress “acted more human instead of ideal dream.” Also, you write that you thought Cogress “always acted for the benefit of their community” – what ‘community’ are you referring to here? I’m curious about what you might really mean… could you clarify and explain your ideas, please?

    Your point about partisanship is an interesting one; however, I wonder if you could be more precise if you wrote ‘extreme partisanship’ instead of ‘partisanship’ and then proceed to explain why excessive partisanship foils compromise time and again… remember, partisanship could plausibly be helpful to overcome checks and balances and/or separation of powers – if, for example, Democrats (or Republicans) work together across the branches or across state/federal divisions.

    Thanks for your work!

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