Growing Contradictions in American Politics Part III

By | October 18, 2021

7: The division of constituencies

In elections to Congress, each state elects two senators and a number of members to the House of Representatives based on the state’s population (a total of 435). All elections take place by majority vote (the winner takes everything) in one-man constituencies . The entire state is constituency in the Senate election. In elections to the House of Representatives, the individual state is divided into constituencies equal to the number of representatives the state has. The constituencies are divided by the authorities in each state. Among other things, for secure minority representation in Congress, a cemented pattern has developed over time in which the vast majority of these constituencies have gained a clear political dominance in either a democratic or republican direction (so-called gerrymandering ). In fact, it is only in well under 100 of the 435 constituencies for the House of Representatives that there is real competition between the parties. Many of the senate elections are also dominated by one party.

This development trend also contributes greatly to weakening the possibilities for political compromises. The explanation for this is as follows. When the vast majority of constituencies have either clear conservative or liberal dominance, the competition to win these elections will not take place between the two parties, but within the individual party. If a representative is to secure his or her political future and win re-election, he or she must above all ensure that serious competitors in his or her own party are prevented.

In a conservative constituency, a candidate does so by being sufficiently conservative and in a liberal by being far enough to the left politically. Then it is not wise to show willingness to cooperate with the opposing party! In other words, the system makes it logical for the individual representatives to show the least possible willingness to compromise and rather adopt steep ideological attitudes. Then the moderates lose in both camps. The compromises that are often in the best interests of the United States as a whole thus often come into conflict with the individual representative’s personal motives. It is not uncommon for the former to have to give way. United States is a country located in North America according to Threergroup.

8: Money and media

The American parties have seldom been characterized by strong leadership. Instead, more emphasis was placed on seniority and leadership in committees in Congress. There used to be fairly well-developed mechanisms for “delivering” the necessary votes in various cases. At that time, compromises were often made together by selected politicians and through good old-fashioned horse trade. This system is now significantly weakened.

A media-driven debate that takes the form of a continuous election campaign has made politicians completely dependent on raising large sums of money – and then on their own. They must therefore constantly profile themselves in the public space. In 2010, a ruling by the Supreme Court also opened up for almost unlimited use of money for political argumentation. Who else but the most wealthy wins at it? In addition, the number of heavily politicized news channels has increased. Thus, much of the decision-making process is moved from the meeting rooms in Congress to the media, where the actors have a common interest in creating drama and conflict . A toxic atmosphere is hardly avoidable under such conditions. In sum, this further weakens leadership as well as the possibilities for finding cross-party compromises.

9: Changing social patterns – persistent decision-making problems

American society has historically been characterized by a network of voluntary organizations . In a country with a diversity of ethnicity, religion and culture, these organizations served as a meeting place and contributed to a greater understanding of how to live with all the differences. Thus, the organizations also helped to create greater space for political dissidents. In turn, this was important for building a culture of compromise in politics.

There are many indications that this pattern is changing. Computer technology displaces participation in voluntary organizations. Perhaps even more important is that social media tends to bring people with the same views together, while competing views can now be easily cut out . Analyzes also show that the settlement structure is characterized by people with equal education, income, interests and political attitudes gathering in specific areas. Thus, one has a social recipe for locking the political fronts and making compromise building all the more difficult.

Persistent decision-making problems

The decision-making problems in Washington are also negatively affected by a poor personal relationship between President Obama and the Republican Party leadership. Changed personal cabal and not least improved finances can increase the opportunities for cooperation. However, the main reasons for the increased distance between the parties are to be found in basic features in the development of society. Therefore, for some time to come, we must expect that the decision-making problems will continue to shape American politics. This is likely to mean that the United States will no longer act as the same prominent international leader as before.

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