Saturday, June 10, 2006

Political Projects vs. Political Parties

One way to think about politics is in terms of projects. We ask what are the projects on a political agenda? What are the projects’ objectives? What ideals and policies motivate those objectives? What are the implementation plans and their feasibilities?

Looking at politics in terms of projects often differs from looking at politics from a political party perspective. Political parties do not always support one’s preferred projects. A certain cast of mind is required to support a good project regardless of party agenda. Some people don’t care about political projects because their beliefs are 100% aligned with political party ideals. In addition to that, some people don’t much care about the messy details involved with implementing large political change.

In politics we often face the additional issue of whether a project’s stated objectives are actually the objectives the project’s proponents claim them to be. The true objectives may be obscured to make them more palatable. A political party often exploits this obfuscation for a supposed great good.

The political project view of politics competes with the political party view on almost every issue. The pressure is always on an individual to conform to some sort of solidarity with a political party’s policies. This often is necessary to get things done, but too many times people support the party line because it is easier than thinking about whether some projects have appropriate objectives or are feasible.

No doubt one should always be straight about one’s ideals and their supporting policies. However, supporting projects with bad objectives or bad implementation plans does not further those ideals. Dissent over a bad project plan is often considered betrayal of political ideals. That is a shame. The betrayal of an ideal is more often caused by bad policies and bad projects.

One of the quickest ways to be disparaged by all is to dissent on the basis of a bad project plan. The view is almost always that one is not suitably ideological and does not possess the requisite solidarity with a given political party’s ideals and policies. Politics is supposed to be a form of magic. If you believe, then it will be done.

Isn’t it pretty to think so?


At 6:13 PM, Blogger -epm said...

Projects vs. Parties... Now that would be refreshing.

It's the image I have of the Founding Fathers, who often had wildly differing opinions, but somehow managed to move past their differences to form a remarkable model of government. Of course, I'm sure my ideas of those times are a bit of a romantic fantasy, but surely they each had more integrity and character in a single finger than an entire Cheney and DeLay put together.

We now have a government populated by elected officials more interested in power for power's sake. In fact, the very notion of a government serving the people and odious to these people, n'est pas?

At 10:49 AM, Blogger Lynn said...


As far as I know, the authors of the Constitution did not imagine the party system that quickly evolved after Washington’s presidency. Those authors possessed a certain kind of genius, yet they failed to adequately deal with the profound issues such as slavery and universal suffrage.

I find it difficult to imagine what the founders would think about modern American politics. I think they would amend their views about certain matters. They would also continue to stand for principles that some no longer care about. That the founders did not recognize the growth of the modern American political party system gives some evidence that they thought in terms of projects.

I wonder how the founders would feel about the so called divisiveness of modern American politics. I doubt if they would find it as rough and tumble as a lot of today’s folks claim it is. They fought a real revolution, so I doubt if what passes for dissent in our world would impress them much.


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