Friday, October 12, 2007

American Political Party Direction - Dealignment

The Decline of the Political Party is without doubt a phenomenon that sits on the near horizon of America’s political system. For decades before today, our social environment asserted its influence on our politics. Party machines held our backs against a wall in regard to our allegiance to parties, and depending on our social status, we were ‘expected’ to follow suit. Voting and supporting a certain party was almost a religion where we could not oppose or beg to differ in our immediate surroundings. Through this Political Parties were an essential part of the system. However the 20th Century awoke with the Progressive reformers who laid the seeds for the decline of the Political Party. With the introduction of TV media, grass roots major party activism is no longer as crucial. Candidates can now by pass the ‘grapevine’ of communication and inform the voters directly reaching the multitudes instantly. Therefore this has made a large section of the Political Parties activities near redundant.

With this new dawn comes a generation of independent voters who unlike before do not need to be part of a party in order to be influenced of a candidates proposals and pledges. As this new breed of voters are not limited by party affiliations and loyalties, they are free to vote more pragmatically, what they feel serves their purpose better. These new practical voters choose by what makes the most sense, as Anis Shivani states, “when voters don’t see the political system able to handle large problems they vote conservatively”. They are freer to choose what they feel are the best candidate policies to handle a problem not necessarily addressed by a relative party.
Studies have shown that voters are willing to vote for a Presidential candidate who is from a different party than a nominee he or she would support in a Congressional race. As reported in the Retro-Politics, Political Typology, November 11, 1999, under the heading, Congressional Test Ballot, “Democrats are much more firmly united behind their party in Congress than they are behind Al Gore”, (Democratic Presidential Candidate). Therefore confirming there is no automatic affiliation anymore when it comes to voter’s actions.

Voters are more likely to choose a personality than a party if this person addresses their concerns. And candidate individualism is a result of not having to depend on a political party once his or her political career has been launched. It’s a catch 22 in its infancy. As more money is pumped into the political system, less is required of a large political organization. Political evolution will set a new format.

What does this tell us? When it comes to the two branches of government, (Executive) President and Congress, the voters, of a more pragmatic nature today, will vote for an individual not guaranteeing any party victory total. This results in Dealignment. If this trend continues, other than a national catastrophe or war, which brings the voters together to support government and congress, Dealignment will be here for some time to come.