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DEMOCRACY: The Party System



Every victorious power tries to impose its system, whether it be communism, fascism, or democracy. Each trumpets the merits of its system. In the West, the US is especially vocal in promoting its variety, even those many think there are better democratic systems.

One obvious shortcoming of our form of democracy is the party system, in which each party tries to score points, not to solve problems. People were born into either Republican or Democratic families, almost like an inherited religion. Americans are getting tired of the abuses of the party system, and more and more are declaring themselves independent, i.e. Mugwumps. The party system, with its inheritance features, is a very old story. As Gilbert and Sullivan say in "Iolanthe":

"When in that House MPs divide,
If they've a brain and cerebellum, too,
They've got to leave that brain outside
And vote just as their leaders tell 'em too

No man can view with equanimity
That every boy and every gal
That's born into the world alive
Is either a little Liberal
or a little Conservative":

Margaret MacKenzie tells us that "The Syme family are well-known, passionate supporters of the party of the Democrats in Rarotonga, and that the George family are equally longtime advocates of the Cook Islands Party.

Politics is a zealous sport in Rarotonga, and everyone--including any longterm visitor to a family, is interpreted as belonging to the party to which the family is affiliated. Should families split in their political affiliations, there is severe internal family trouble. Everyone on the island reads the newspaper for the relish of interpreting who is controlling what, and whichever party is in power has a very strong hand in what is published, with the Democrats advocating a stronger position about freedom of the press. Rarotongans do not believe that anyone is capable of objectivity, so they take for granted that we all have interests, whether we state them or not".

Ronald Hilton - 6/20/01


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