Fighting factionalism, from the top-down.
promoted by John
A bunch of political bigwigs are making noises about the need for "bipartisanship" in the next President's administration . These bigwigs include Mike Bloomberg, Chuck Hagel, and several former Senators. While these politicians seem to be as respectable as any politician, their call for "unity" and "bipartisanship" creeps me out. They probably view their project as the embodiment of George Washington's warnings against factionalism , but I have a feeling that the reality would be more akin to fascism.
This emphasis on a "bipartisan administration" seems that it would effectively merge the Democrats and Republicans into one party. It would eliminate the competition between the parties and entrench the power of the political establishment. This is purely a top-down solution to factionalism, and it seems to be fundamentally anti-democratic.
The converse approach, a bottom-up attack on factionalism, seems to get no attention from this group. The bottom-up approach would seek to eliminate the structural causes of partisanship in our electoral system. It would address the fact that a plurality election system requires voters to form two large coalitions in order to maximize their chances of winning. It would address the fact that state election laws require voters to associate with the same coalition (i.e. party) for all levels of government (local, state, and federal).
If I were trying to attack partisanship in a state with a closed primary system (like PA), I would first allow voters to register with different parties for local, state, and Federal elections. Before the advent of computerized voting, this may have caused some logistical problems when multiple elections were held at once, but now that should not be a problem. This reform would allow the primary system to operate properly at all levels of government, and eliminate the suggestion that Americans should be categorized as "us and them".
The second way that I would attack partisanship would be to (partially) automate the coalition-building process through a preference ballot system . This would allow voters and candidates to separate themselves from any particular partisan establishment or identity group. The vote counting system itself would see that voters are clustered in a manner that maximizes their chance of influencing the outcome of the election.
These bottom-up reforms would not only limit individual identification with political parties, but would open up the political process to allow a greater variety of actors to have influence. In contrast, the "bipartisan" strategy promoted by Bloomberg would probably limit political influence to an even smaller, self-selecting elite.