Commentary: Does competition and dualism within political parties divide or strengthen?
Competition and infighting is common within political parties.
Like many other Americans, I've been watching the Republican primary debates. I'm not a Republican by any means, but I like to see and hear all sides when it comes to politics. I've noticed quite a few things while watching the debates. One of the main things that I've been thinking about lately is the amount of dualism and competition within the political parties. We've been seeing Republican candidates, Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney go hard at each other. It appears to me that some of the attacks have gotten personal. It makes me wonder; does the competition within political parties benefit or divide the party? Please read on.
If you are somewhat familiar with how American politics work, you know there are unfortunately only two legitimate parties who have a shot at winning. Those parties are Democratic Party, and the Republican Party. Each party has a group of candidates who run for their party's nomination. This process usually runs its course through debates between the candidates along with primary elections in different states. As the primary process goes on, candidates drop out for various reasons. Some go through scandals that weaken their chances of winning the nomination. Former Republican presidential candidate, Herman Cain is a prime example of this. Others simply don't have the support and resources to continue in the race for the nomination. Recent Republican candidates: Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and Michele Bachmann became victims of this. The field is narrowed down to one candidate who will represent their party for their chance to win the office of President of the United States.
Competition within political parties.
During the course of a presidential primary battle, things often get heated and testy between candidates. Personal attacks between fellow party members aren't uncommon during this time. As the primary battle runs it's course with an eventually nominee chosen, the party is expected to rally around the nominee in support to defeat the nominee from the opposing party. Now I can't speak for anyone else, but does this appear to be a strange way choose a potential nominee? Then again politics is a strange game that I don't understand myself at times. It's almost like two siblings fighting with each other for their parents love. Well maybe that's a bad example, but I'm sure you get what I mean. Regardless of how we feel about the process, that is how it works in American politics. Is this type of political atmosphere good for uniting a party, or does it bring division? Lets look at a few examples.
2008 Democratic primary battle.
The 2008 political primary battle for the Democratic Party became very heated and intense. The process ran it's course and got down to two candidates. We had two then Senators, Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton battling for the top spot. The process carried on for months with many fearing it would severely hurt and weaken the Democratic Party chances for winning against then Republican presidential candidate and nominee, John McCain. The attacks and debates between Obama and Clinton got very heated, and ultimately appeared to divide the Democratic Party. With Clinton being the first woman to have a legitimate shot at becoming president, many registered female Democrats hinted at not voting for Obama if he became the nominee. After a long and tedious battle, Clinton finally dropped out of the race for delegates, giving Obama the nomination for the Democratic Party. Obama would go on to easily defeat McCain in the general election. The irony about the primary battle is that Obama chose Clinton to be his Secretary of State. After all of the bickering and attacks, she ended up with a position in his cabinet. Hmmm. It appears that the battle and division among the Democrats helped them to win the White House, or maybe McCain was a weak candidate for the Republican Party. I leave that up for you and everyone else to decide.
The current Republican presidential primary battle.
When I see the Republican presidential debates going on now, I see an obvious divide. The attacks between candidates, Mitt Romney and Newt Gingrich, have been fierce. These fierce attacks have lead to heated exchanges during the debates. I recall another heated exchange during a debate between Romney and Rick Perry, who dropped out recently. Romney's face was so red that he looked like he was going to physically attack Perry. I've also noticed an age divide in the Republican Party. Many of the younger voters appear to be supporting Texas Congressman, Ron Paul by great numbers. Paul's Libertarian views have outcast him from many in the Republican Party, and the mainstream news media in general. However, he does have a very strong following with many of his supporters saying that if he's not their nominee, they either won't vote, or will support Barack Obama in 2012. There have been polls showing Ron Paul in a dead heat with Obama in a general election battle. In my opinion, there are too many divides among the Republican party. If they don't find a way to bridge the gaps between the views in their party, I don't see them beating Obama at all. That's just my opinion though.
So does division within political parties divide or strengthen? Like many other things in life, it depends on who you ask. I think in some ways the differences of ideas and opinions within political parties is good for American democracy. It's also a known fact that some of those differences can create a great divide. This potential division not only can take place within political parties, but within the fabric of our country. Thanks for reading.