Why we need political parties


These days, calls for a new political order usually require the ouster of political parties and elected leaders, and in many cases that is the correct call. Corrupt and ineffectual organizations need to be replaced by effective ones, notes analyst Moises Naim. Yet many activists harbor the misconception that the answer lies in nongovernmental organizations, or in loose, nonhierarchical movements. Democracies, however, need political parties, he writes for The New York Times:

We need permanent organizations that earn political power and govern, that are forced to articulate disparate interests and viewpoints, that can recruit and develop future government leaders and that monitor those already in power.

Political leaders need to have a stance on preschool education and nuclear weapons, health care and agriculture, and have well-articulated views on fighting terrorism and regulating banks, among myriad other policy issues. And political parties are the training camps of these leaders. To survive, political parties must regain the ability to inspire and mobilize people — especially the young — who might otherwise disdain politics or prefer to channel whatever political energy they have through single-issue groups.

“Parties must be willing to overhaul their structures, mind-sets and methods to adapt to a new world,” adds Naim, a former board member at the National Endowment for Democracy. “We also need to bring party renewal to the foreground in any discussion of contemporary politics.” RTWT

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