In just two short weeks, we enjoy a brief reprieve from the campaign promises and propaganda, the quiet time between the mid-terms and the upcoming presidential election will be here again. After the dust settles from another election cycle, a new congress will take control in Washington. The specific personalities who have been littering your television and radio waves will fade into the mass that will become the next congress. The winners, either a Democrat or a Republican to be sure, will become one of one hundred senators or one of four hundred thirty five representatives. The power of the parties will take effect. Therefore, informed voters must take party affiliation into account when electing a candidate. In fact, the reality is, in most cases concerning congressional candidates, the party of a candidate trumps the individual personality of a candidate.
The reality of the political process is that every candidate of either party is beholden to the party at large and limited in their ability to implement policy changes.
For example: voters will often make decisions based upon a single issue such as abortion. Regardless of the beliefs of a newly elected senator or congressman, pro-life or pro-choice, abortion is legal, albeit with certain restrictions; it will remain legal, still with certain restrictions. Neither party will change this policy in spite of the views of some of its members. Any claims to the contrary are examples of the exploitation of the ignorance of voters, transforming their lack of understanding into fear of one party or the other
The concept of voting based upon political party rather than on the specific candidate is one that most voters will instinctively dismiss as corruptive rhetoric, an example of the sort of idea that corrodes the political process. And to some extent this is true. Majority parties rule politics. The dream of Mr. Smith in Washington is a fantasy. The fact that the idea of the collective overpowering the individual is anathema to the American spirit does not purify the process. Political reality is still reality, whether accepted or ignored. Most citizens have chosen the latter, to the peril of this nation.
Congressional majorities control the means to affect change within this country. They form the backbone of the agenda of an allied executive or fortify against a president as the loyal opposition. Legislation will be passed or blocked based upon the disposition of the party in power. This power exists due to the structure of congress that effectively determines that the majority party will dictate policy:
“Members of Congress serve on a number of committees and subcommittees. Committees are sometimes called little legislatures because of the influence they wield. These committees do most of the legislative work in Congress and therefore have great power in determining which bills get reviewed and in shaping the laws that are passed. Only after a committee has reviewed a bill does the whole body deliberate and vote on it. The committee system allows Congress to operate more efficiently through division of labor and specialization.”
I understand that this can be extremely dry information that creates even more resistance to the electoral process. However, the notion that the party trumps the person in the voting process is essential to making informed decisions at the polls. The idea that voters are not simply voting for the person they see in the ads but also for the party behind the scenes adds significant depth to the process.
Party trumps person as a concept simplifies voting decisions. It means that people can look beyond single issues to the process that will take place after election day. The hollow nature of campaign ads will emerge; the vapid claims possess no truth about the danger of what will happen if an opponent is elected. Voters can guide themselves based upon the objectivity of the structure of our political system, no longer blindly led by their fears of the evil Republicans and feckless Democrats. Understanding concepts like “party trumps person” is how voters become informed and regain control of the political process.
All information on the makeup of Congress is from Sparknotes.com, click here
This post contains a general description of the political idea known as Party Trumps Person. I first learned of this concept from Mike Rosen of 850 KOA, and from what I have heard and read he is the only one who uses the PTP name for this concept. All references to that idea were learned from him. Thank you.