Friday, January 10, 2014

partisan warfare

Texas professor Sean Theriault makes a useful distinction between political polarization and political warfare. Both are related and both are evident in today's American politics. But what he sees as most destructive to our political system and most harmful to good governance is the take-no-prisoners aspects of political "warfare."

The warfare dimension taps into the strategies that go beyond defeating your opponents to humiliating them, go beyond questioning your opponents’ judgment to questioning their motives, and go beyond fighting the good legislative fight to destroying the institution and the legislative process. Partisan warfare serves electoral goals, not legislative goals.
There are many causes and few cures for the extreme partisanship we have experienced in recent decades and the political gridlock in Congress. But I agree that the worst features are in the efforts to treat every political dispute as armageddon, and to put campaigning above governing.

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