Sunday, May 1, 2016

Don't like Trump? Then you want stronger parties.

Does anyone remember Jon Huntsman?  He is the former Governor of Utah, Ambassador to China, and 2012 presidential candidate.  Back in 2012, he was every Democrat's favorite Republican.  He was the media's favorite, too.  The problem for him was that getting the Republican nomination requires getting Republicans to like you.

That didn't work out, so he hooked up with a silly, little group called "No Labels."  Basically, these are the "parties are bad" people.  They are a fascinating manifestation of "goo-gooism."  ("Good government" reform solves all problems!)  The idea is that parties aren't coalitions of people with fundamentally different and incompatible views on public policy.  No, they're just meaningless teams, and once everyone stops rooting for one team over the other, Shangri-La!  Obviously, I have tremendous respect for the "No Labels" movement.

If you want a good book on the importance of political parties and why political scientists love them, try John Aldrich's Why Parties.  To a political scientist, parties are vital for any functioning democracy.  They create stable coalitions, simplify electoral choices and make organization possible.  Without parties, well, chaos.  Perhaps a longer post on that another time.

Anywho, Huntsman now backs... Donald Trump!  This should surprise precisely no one.  Does Huntsman see eye-to-eye with Trump on anything?  Not possible since Trump has no coherent views on anything.  This is about sticking it to the party establishment that didn't back him.  Knee-jerk anti-establishment sentiment gets you "No Labels."  It also gets you Donald Trump.

I pick on The Party Decides a lot.  Party elites don't control the nomination process.  If they did, we wouldn't have Donald Trump.

So, if you don't like Donald Trump, then do you want an electoral process that keeps people like him from getting presidential nominations?  If the answer is "yes," then congratulations!  You want stronger political parties.

Now, go read John Aldrich's Why Parties.

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