Political Parties

Ok, this week is a little different.  I’d like you to read an article written by Charles Kessler a few years ago that explains the philosophical/ideological differences in what we usually hear in terms of ‘left’ and ‘right’. (We won’t be reading from the textbook this week) I find most people don’t really understand what they mean, although by this point you should be ready to analyze this. Most people who see themselves as left or right don’t really understand the ideological justification for their position. Nearly all the arguments between Democrats and Republicans stem from the ideologies explained in this article. (Not that either party truly holds to these theories completely or accurately)    In political science, ideologies are simplified versions of political theories. Think of them as the marketing wing of theories. It’s hard to sell classic liberalism or socialism, but you can simplify them and sell the ideology. The problem with this is that most people don’t understand the reason for the positions in the ideology. That is why people can argue something and not really have any idea of what they are talking about. Believe me, as a political scientist, I hear so many sadly evoked calls to ideologies that are completely misguided misinterpretations of the real thing.    This article does a wonderful job of explaining the foundations of the ideologies. The two different ideas are in competition for your vote. The traditional idea of rights and representation is called traditional American republicanism. This would be the founder’s view of rights and representation. This is what we looked at when we read about John Locke and Adam Smith. The Republican party was founded as an anti-slavery party that held that America needed to live up to its belief that ‘All men are created equal.’ So the idea of equality of all people and freedom to do what one wants to do is the foundation of the Republican party. Although this is the basis for the ideology of the Republican party, there is a difference between the Republican party and the term Traditional American Republicanism. Traditional American republicanism is an ideology. The name of the political party, Republican, is the name of the party.  – So do not confuse the ideology with the political party. The Republican (notice the capital ‘R’ for the party) party is not the same as the ideology.   The development of a new idea of rights and representation, which is in opposition to the traditional view, is what Kessler calls  progressivism. This idea has its roots in Europe also, but is in contradiction to the founding ideas of America. The original view, traditional American republicanism, aligned its idea of rights and representation with the contractualist John Locke we read about earlier in th class.   Kessler definitely has his opinion which is best, but he explains both ideologies better and more honestly than anywhere else I’ve seen.   What I’d like you to do for this assignment is to read the article Political Parties, and tell me: What are the differences between the two different views: traditional American republicanism and progressivism. Make sure to define and compare the two views in terms of rights and representation. As you do this, think about this in tems of all we’ve covered from separation of powers, checks and balances, civil rights, civil liberties, liberty, equality, property, and especially rights, and representation. I want you to think about the implications of each ideology. And finally, which view do you think provides for a better society? (Because that’s what ideologies are in a nutshell. They are ideas that, ‘if we do it this way’, society will be better.) I want you to be able to explain the article. But I also want you to be able to analyze the ideologies and add your thoughts about each different section. Think in terms of: What are the implications of that school of thought in terms of rights or representation? Which ideology, if any, provides for a freer society, a better society, a safer society? Which ideology allows more room for abuse or tyranny?   James Madison, the ‘father of the constitution’ said this about government in the Federalist Papers.    The aim of every political constitution is, or ought to be, first to obtain for rulers men who possess most wisdom to discern, and most virtue to pursue, the common good of the society; and in the next place, to take the most effectual precautions for keeping them virtuous whilst they continue to hold their public trust. (are in office)” -Federalist Papers, No. 57, This reading and assignment can be difficult. So take your time and give yourself time and a chance to digest what you’re reading. I would suggest reading a section at a time and trying to digest it. It takes the average student at least two or three readings to really start to understand it. So read each section two or three times before moving on. I’ll list the sections below. Look at them and think about each section as you read it. Political parties, the Constitution, and the Future of American Politics  Natural Rights and Elective Representation  The New View of Rights  The New View of Representation  The President and Party Leadership  Challenges to Elective Representation  Conclusion    It’s only about 13 pages, so each section is only a few pages. This assignment is worth 75 points. So take your time and show me how you can take all the information we’ve gone through and use it to analyze this.

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