Tuesday, September 28, 2004

Are you... partisan?

Hugh Hewitt writes about a Newsweek article in which an insult is levied at bloggers in that they are accused of being "fiercly partisan." Hugh writes,
In this charge Levy joins folks like Andrew Sullivan and Peter Beinart who have been tossing the term "partisan" around like a rotten egg for many months. Time for some clarity: Partisanship is the bedrock of the American republic and has been since at least Jefferson's presidency.
Excellent point, and very timely considering my previous post on President Jimmy Carter's accusations that a fair election is not possible in Florida primarily because of highly partisan and biased officials. Hewitt's remarks are also timely in that I am currently reading Stephen Ambrose's Undaunted Courage, which recounts the events up to, and including, the voyage of Lewis and Clark. Ambrose details the fiercly partisan politics entrenched in American politics during Jefferson's term. He describes the conflicts between the Federalists and the Republicans in terms that make events of today seem tame in comparison. What 21st century citizens of the United States need to understand is that the founding fathers weren't attempting to draft a system of government that would avoid partisan politics. No, they understood very well that man's inherent depravity rendered such a system virtually impossible to achieve. Yet, rather than attempting to avoid such a system, they counted on it. The machinery of a separation of power can only function properly when it is fueled by a struggle for power. The founding fathers knew this not only in theory, but also in practice. Consider what Dietrich Bonhoeffer wrote in his book Ethics,
The American democracy is not founded upon the emancipated man but, quite on the contrary, upon the kingdom of God and the limitation of all earthly powers by the sovereignty of God. It is indeed significant when, in contrast to the Declaration of the Rights of Man, American historians can say that the federal constitution was written by men who were conscious of original sin and of the wickedness of the human heart.
Are you partisan? I certainly hope so.


Paul said...

You'll be shocked to hear that I agree with this - it can be ugly and unpleasant, but politics *is* partisanship. That's why I get irritated when I hear the term 'bipartisan' used to mean neutral.

The problem I have with the US system is that so many figures who run the machinery of voting are political appointees. In the UK there is a very clear divide between the politicians and the people who actually manage the elections. A politician can have all the oversight he or she wants, but if there is an attempt at interference the senior civil servant in charge will lay down the law (quite literally). I'm not claiming that the UK system is a model, or even better overall than in the US, but this seems such a commonsense necessity for fair elections that I was genuinely amazed to find the US alternative.

Miss O'Hara said...

Good post.