The Corner

PJ in Forbes

Fr. Basil Biberdorf points me to a piece by Paul Johnson (must be PJ week on The Corner) in Forbes, about whether political parties, at any rate the current ones, are still useful.

“What we in the West should be considering is to what extent we can get along without highly organized and all-powerful political parties or, at the least, how we can reduce their influence. Why shouldn’t we encourage more independent individuals to run for election? What role do independents have to play in parliaments and congresses in the 21st century? For the last two centuries political parties have increasingly dominated our legislatures, formed our governments and shaped our societies. But if they are such successful and indispensable institutions, why are they so corrupt? Is it wise to seek to export this party tradition to the fledgling democracies we’re trying to set up in Iraq, Afghanistan and elsewhere? After all, in Israel–which is a genuine democracy–the overfragmented party system is an obstacle to good and stable government.

“These and related questions ought to be taken up and debated in the media, think tanks and university political science departments. We should not take the defeatist line that we’re stuck with the old party system for all eternity.”

John Derbyshire — Mr. Derbyshire is a former contributing editor of National Review.

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