Nancy Rosenblum – Partisanship and Independence

well good afternoon and welcome to this the 2010 Aaron lecture at Dartmouth my name is Lucas Swain I’m an associate professor here in the department of government and currently the convener of Dartmouth’s Legal Studies faculty today’s event is co-sponsored by the Rockefeller Center by the Dartmouth Lawyers Association and by dartmouth’s Legal Studies faculty and I’d like to thank sadhna hall and sarah morgan for their invaluable assistance in helping to bring this occasion together by way of background briefly the Aaron lecture for your interest was established in 1996 it’s named in honor of Roger s Aaron who is a member of the class of nineteen sixty-four its broad purpose under the aegis of Dartmouth’s Daniel Webster fund is quote to advance the study of the role of just of law and justice and ethics and public policy in the lives of individuals and society unquote since its inception the Aaron lectures been delivered by such notable figures as Anthony Crone Minh Owen Fiss Brian Tierney Michael Perry Robert Ellickson and Steve and macedo among others this year we are delighted to have as our Aaron lecturer professor Nancy rosenblum from Harvard University she is a leading expert in political theory and the history of political thought and she’s a truly remarkable scholar of liberalism and constitutional law professor rosenblum did her undergraduate and graduate studies at Harvard and she taught for several years at Brown University where she was Henry Mara Tristan professor in the political science department and also director and founder of Browns initiative for the study of values at Brown she also initiated the foundations of Legal Studies program which was wildly successful during her tenure there but she returned to Harvard 2001 where she’s a mainstay of their government department she teaches courses at the graduate and undergraduate level including a course called legalism which is in the moral reasoning core curriculum at Harvard professor rosenblum has published important articles in a wide variety of academic journals and she’s written four books the first Bentham’s theory of the modern state second another liberalism romanticism in the reconstruction of liberal thought third there’s the award-winning membership and morals the personal uses of pluralism in America which one the american political science associations david eastern prize and most recently on the side of the angels and appreciation of parties and partisanship which came out in 2008 on Princeton University Press and it’s a breezy 600 pages in length by way of other work professor rosenblum has edited a wonderful little book on Thoreau which we Dartmouth people greatly appreciate it’s part of a Cambridge series on history of political thought and she’s edited and contributed to the following works liberalism in the moral life which we employ in the classroom here at the college obligations of citizenship and demands of faith a book co-edited with the legal scholar Robert post entitled civil society and government from Princeton and 2002 and most recently breaking the cycles of hatred memory law and repair co-edited with Martha Minow of Harvard Law School she’s a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences she is senator joseph s clark professor of ethics in politics and government theory at harvard and she is the chair of Harvard’s department of government no less her lecture today is entitled partisanship and independence the moral distinctiveness of party ID I note for your interest that will go to 6pm after which there will be a book signing so please do feel free to acquire one of those fine texts and have it signed afterwards and please join me in welcoming to Dartmouth Nancy Rosenberg thank you Luke can you all hear me all right I’m honored to have been invited to deliver the 14th Aaron lecture I’m grateful to the donor to the Rockefeller Center its director Andrew Sandwick to sadhna hall and sarah morgan

for organizing my visit to the Dartmouth Legal Studies faculty and the Dartmouth Lawyers Association I’m also grateful to professor Swain whose dedication to this College into academic affairs like this one reminds me in the swirl of a frenetic semester why we do what we do my theme is the moral distinctiveness of party identity and this theme goes against the grain by the end of the talk I hope that you’ll agree that political theory has something to add to this subject that’s usually written about by pundits or political scientist or the growing into the industry of people who write in election law so here we go I’m going to talk to something under an hour and then I hope to take your combative questions in 1880 Henry Adams the historian in the air of two presidents published a novel called democracy Adams heroine New York socialite Madeleine Lightfoot Lee suffers from ennui she’s lost interest in salons and in philanthropy and in business she’s resorted to desperate measures Adams wrote she reads philosophy in the original German but still desperate Miss Lee transplants herself to Washington where enthralled by the great game of politics she’s revived that’s the literature in political theory by contrast the story is one of persistent anti-party ism political parties and their partisan supporters are disparaged if not actively despised and they always have been the canonical history of political thought is a record of relentless opposition to parties as institutions and of moral disdain for partisans I’m actually created a typology of the glorious traditions of anti-party ism that still resonate today one tradition abhors parties is unwholesome arts the disfigure what should be a perfectly unified political community and because parties have partiality and opposition as their whole purpose they stand out amongst groups and associations is the most morally and politically objectionable as worms in the bowels of the Commonwealth there’s a second Andy party tradition that accepts political pluralism but abhors parties as magnifiers or inventors of cleavages as fatally divisive there have been some rare moments in the history of political thought of appreciation for parties and they do have one classic defender and that’s Edmund Burke of whom William go Smith wrote in 1774 here lies good Edmund who born for the universe narrowed his mind and to party gave up what was meant for mankind well Democratic theorists do more than just echo these traditions of anti-party ism their creative in their loathing and they had to be because only after elections were open to most citizens and runners contests to shape public opinion could parties be specifically decried as pervert or of the Democratic spirit and the charges of familiar parties are too responsive to powerful minorities they’re insufficiently responsive to powerless minorities and above all parties are routinely unresponsive to majorities parties are associated with personal and institutional corruption and the main thing dividing dismal critics today is whether they see political parties is the agents of powerful corporate predators captured by special interests or as principals advancing their own sinister interests extortionists involved in an elaborate influence-peddling scheme so it’s small wonder that versions predominate after Old Party politics is so grimy cell mundane so naked Li political to arouse antipathy it would be enough to say that parties are the creatures of politicians men and women for whom politics is a business and a pleasure and who are prepared to give and receive heavy punishment without flinching as for partisanship we recognize that partisan is an infective the barb comes out of improbable mouths virtual reflex and so while party activists do battle with one another claiming to be on the side of the Angels in and critics demonize them all and praised independence as their unjust muted moral superiors to orient us on this terrain of anti-party ism it’s helpful helpful to understand the virtually every political pathology and every scheme for correcting the system by eliminating or circumventing parties and converting partisans into independence had its roots in the united states in the Progressive Era and it’s true bribery bossism patronage and fraud the key motivator is a progressive anti-party ism have been eclipsed after 2000 presidential elections machine politics refers to the machinery to tabulate votes not to boss tweed still there is a remarkable continuity of progressive anti-party ism up to the present so for example contemporary democratic theorists who described their work as a non-ideal theory or progressives heirs they write often expressly as if we could have democracy without parties and partisanship and the objects of their serious attention are self-styled public interest groups or social movements or direct democratic institutions like referenda or expert Commission’s or decision-making by

specially created deliberative polls or citizens juries with participants chosen to represent lay citizens and non partisans in other words in democratic theory today partisans are absent from this exhaustive catalog of the associations that make democracy work and progressive roots and borrowings are also pronounced among scholars of election law which has emerged in the last decade or so as illegal specialty leading to scholars in the field adopt a very standard progressive theme that the American two-party system is a duopoly a cartel that the ground rules of democratic elections set up political barriers to political competition from third parties or fusion parties or independent candidates barriers to pilot access like signature requirements or filing deadlines and all of these are erected by the two major parties in what amounts to partisan self a trench mint and the payoff of this analogy between a party system and a commercial market is the accusation of party cartel that’s so neatly diagnosis what it is that these scholars feel is the main problem today which is failure to perform the ritual cleansing one of competition the market analogy directs the course that they think judicial intervention should take which is to apply the equivalent of antitrust law to the major parties if we move from legal theory to practice it’s not hard to see that important issues and current constitutional law the court is not particularly friendly to parties for example the Supreme Court as many cases that illustrate the way in which it’s thrown up wedges between political parties and their candidates and I’ll give just one example or skip some of this this is true in campaign finance law law today but it’s also true in controls over primary elections and let me give you just one example in 2004 Washington State People’s Choice initiative by initiative voted to establish a very novel part primary election scheme and they call this as no nonpartisan primary because candidates for office are identified on the ballot by their own self legs an aided party preference for by their status as an independent and the top two vote-getters then go on into the general election even if the top two have designated their party preference is the same party well the point I want to make here is that a political party in Washington state cannot prevent a candidate who is unaffiliated with it or even repugnant to it from designating it is his party preference on the ballot and the party cannot designate its own preferred candidate as such on the ballot well washington state’s Republican Democratic and libertarian party’s challenged the law arguing that if left unattended ‘it’s claimed that her views are aligned with the party can distort the party’s image or shape the voters a view of what the party stands for hijack the party’s message in goodwill that voters are liable to assume that parties embrace or at least tolerate the views of the candidates who take on their label and that the winner will be seen as the de facto party nominee and in 2008 the Supreme Court upheld this Washington primary scheme arguing that the parties can’t complain of violations of their First Amendment right of association they can’t complain that this is unconstitutional compelled association with candidates not of their choosing for the purely for normal reason that the primary here doesn’t actually choose the party’s nominee for the general election it simply windows the field to two top vote-getters regardless of their party preference and justice scalia was a characteristically emphatic in his dissent in this case and in this case i think right where he said there is no state interest behind this law except dislike for bright colored partisanship so all of this is a wind-up to say that from the Supreme Court where justices have consistently expressed the view that elections are about choosing an individual to hold an office not upon a party to control office de palpable public distaste for parties a third of survey respondents agree with the proposition that the truth is we probably don’t mean political parties in America anymore and a third of voters would prefer to see the candidates run as individuals without party labels we get a sense of the scope not the flavor of anti-party ism well my focus this afternoon is going to be more circumscribed than anti-party ism its auntie partisanship anti-party ism and anti partisanship are separable we can appreciate partisanship in general in the sense of organized advocacy you’re a partisan of a cause and yet despise political parties as vehicles just as we can conceive the usefulness of political parties and despise partisanship for example Democratic theorists might globally concede the parties are convenient mechanisms for reducing the transaction costs of democracy and that while partisans are an admirable some number of them are indispensable to realize the value of parties but even this minimal concession is pragmatic in on excellent and grudging because at the

same time they echo progressives who insisted that if we have to have parties at least voters should be nonpartisan and who wanted to make independent and near honorific status so my theme then is going to be anti partisanship more specifically opposition to ordinary voters identification with a political party and efforts to foster the political identity of independent and I’m going to take sides not between opposing partisans but between partisanship and independence i’m going to chip away at the moral high ground claimed by independence and i hope i’m going to provide party ID with an iota of dignity i’m going to partisanship is the morally distinctive political identity in representative democracy and I’m going to argue that the common place of democratic theory today that an intelligent and progressive democratic system depends on the ability of its supporters to attain a non-partisan spirit is exactly wrong so let me go ahead then do you have these outlines right them go ahead then I’m going to make three points each about independence and partisanship and recall my focus is on civilians anhui partisans those similar arguments extend to partisans government so independence first in the United States today independent is a distinct political identity a response of no preference on surveys of political attitudes is widespread throughout advanced democracy but the designation independent doesn’t appear to have a counterpart elsewhere put another way while over ninety percent of survey respondents agree with the statement the best rule in voting is to pick the best candidate regardless of party label only some of these people elevate this profession into a proud label into a proud self designation I’m an independent I’ve been meeting manifestos on this fall and the author of the recent manifesto we the purple she was a former editor of Christian retailing trade magazine put it very nicely she wrote we’re not undecided we have decided to be independent now plainly this label itself is inviting independence has a certain luster the positive moral resonance of Independence in the United States owes to a distinctive ideal of self-reliance an economic and social life that is citizenship requires men who become accustomed to independence in action that comes with the responsibility of directing their own affairs this is a quote from the 18th century and this general Civic ideal was transplanted into the soil of electoral politics in one formulation citizens and I’m quoting must be independent persons in both their political and civil roles who given withdraw their votes from their representatives and parties as they see fit and independence here meant more than that you’re not definitely definitely appears as voting became the ritual expression of citizenship independence became increasingly aligned with political conduct and it meant nonpartisan and so from very early on partisanship was cast as a kind of degraded citizenship as abject dependence rooted in clientelism or capture or dumb loyalty and enthusiasm for independence was rooted in this conviction that it was the predictor of responsible political behavior and that independence where voters persuaded whereas partisans were voters bought this Civic ideal of Independence is so pronounced in American political thought and it gives luster to independence as anti-partisan and provides the permanent structure of anti partisanship in American political life having said that with the surge of independence in the last few decades several variations of Independence have appeared they were all in evidence in the election of 08 and I thought I’d give you my my categories of Independence as they’ve emerged fundamentalist independence a vow that their anti partisanship is not the result of dissatisfaction with current parties but with any and all parties they see party divisions is inherently too rigid to allow their personal judgment to be exercised over time these are the fundamentalists always anti-partisan circumstantial independence present is a separate type they see current parties is creating the wrong kinds of divisions not those that in their individual judgment are politically important one common complaint in the United States has been the parties are undifferentiated they’re mongrels they’re hodgepodge is their centrist and I like to quote justice Powell’s opinion in a Supreme Court case dealing with whether the National Democratic Party should be required in violation of its own internal rules to seat delegates from Wisconsin chosen by an open primary and he was justice Powell’s assessment he writes if appellant National Party the Democratic Party were an organization with a particular ideological orientation or political mission the state law opening the organization to participation by persons with incompatible beliefs might interfere with the associational right of its founders the Democratic Party

however is not organized around the achievement of defined ideological goals well things change and today’s circumstantial independence animus is captured by exactly the opposite dissatisfaction with parties the partisans are ideological and extremist and really the only thing to note is how swiftly political complaints with the title dead center the perils of moderation have been supplanted with political complaints of the title like off center-right extremists so circumstantial independence refuse to identify with these errant conglomerations nor should be said with any feasible party decision and as such they merge and practice I think with fundamentalist there’s a third type that in some ways politically today is most interesting and Max pragmatic independence they want to bypass partisanship because it supports practical solutions to urgent problems and the adjectives that these independents apply to partisan are nasty diminutive pettiness bickering smallness candidate Obama repeated the sentiment I think in his campaign he said let’s resist the temptation to fall back on the same partisanship and pettiness and immaturity that has poisoned our politics for so long well this notion just fix it don’t worry about partisanship is a perennial feature of a political thought in America and pragmatic independence is captured by the designation of some officials as the new action heroes politicians like Arnold Schwarzenegger who plays the role of fixer in a style approaching camp and who repeats at every turn how about being really realistic and just solving the problem so independence animus has distinct contours today but it’s hardly unique to this polarized moment in American politics there is a permanent structure to anti partisanship that’s shared by fundamentalists and circumstantial and pragmatic independence it draws oxfords resonance on the force of this long-standing Civic ideal of Independence in the words of one proud independent we’ve decided that we cannot be anything other than independent thinking which is what us which is what drew us to this political persuasion in the first place like second point about independence progressives introduced the influential view that the partisan is seduced or bought the independent is a free agent and supporters of party organization were characterized as ignorant or inert or in the terms of the time set in some deadly groove the good people are herded into parties Henry Adams wrote and stupefied with convictions in a name Republican and Democrat the great progressive writer Lincoln Steffens was blunt I don’t see how any intelligent man can be a partisan today the contrast is as much cognitive as it is moralistic where partisans are judgment impaired crippled by perceptual bias the independence with a nimble positive empiricist cognitively mobilized I love that phrase the author of the odd book party crashing have a hip-hop generation declared political independence quote saw a young black woman in her 20s charisma saying I’m a registered independent because I’m an independent thinker well these assertions don’t stand up to empirical scrutiny quote far from being more attentive interested and informed independence tend as a group to have somewhat poorer knowledge of the issues their image of the candidates is fainter their interest in the campaign is less their concern over the outcome relatively slight this is a forty-year-old assessment and by and large it still holds pure independence are the least interested in politics the most politically ignorant the lightest voters escaped from the deadly groove they disregard partisan reference points in their own thinking and because they also typically spend less time attending to politics and have fewer hooks for taking in new arguments or new information the independence considerations are more likely to be chaotic and ad-hoc than partisans rather than more coherent and evenly a presume even a presumably informed subgroup of Independence as leaning independence or my Harvard students are said to be don’t appear to use more or different or better information than partisans or to be more deliberative or more cognitively mobilized and so if independence begins to lose a little bit of its luster it can be burnished again and it is by claiming an affinity to certain moral types that are familiar from political philosophy because of course philosophers want in depend whether the ideal perspective is Socratic questioning or hue impartiality or a view from nowhere is the antithesis of a partisan position and so laudatory representations of independence invoke these poses and I think they deserve at least a quick note of skepticism for one escape from the deadly grooved doesn’t make an independent bravely thorough Ian guided by conscience doing in every case what I think right after all

conscientious are not and there’s no reason to think that independents are more moved by moral considerations or commands of conscience than others they are reduced to choosing amongst courses that are arranged by others nor is there any warrant forecasting independence is impartial observers who bring appreciation of the limits of each side and balance information to bear as if independents are judicious umpires inclining victory to this side or that as they think the interests of the country’s demand as if they are either uniquely motivated or uniquely equipped to judge the nation’s interest and finally I think there’s no warrant for viewing independence especially attuned to the dynamic by which every political position derives its utility from the deficiencies of the other this is John Stuart Mill’s great account of political parties where he said truth is a question of the reconciling and combining of opposites may by a rough process of a struggle between combatants fighting under hostile banners on this view independents are portrayed as the beneficiaries and carriers of the corrections that emerged from the clash of persons who actually believe these half-truths who defend them in earnest and do their utmost well some of you might say have I focused on real life anti partisans and not grappled with independence as a regulative ideal what if independence were disinterested judges of the public interest or intrepid citizens prevent presenting themselves as antidotes to the furies of extremism or impartial observers and correctors of the deficiency of every party well independence doesn’t stand up in any case because even the most admirable lacks the moral distinctiveness of party ID that I’m going to talk about in just a minute but moreover independents are politically detached and weightless and that’s the third point I want to make alone with independence as a junior as a general civic ideal and escape from the deadly groove is weightlessness what is partisanship its identification with others in a political association we partisans organize and vote with allies not alone and if the great Italian Communist Ignacio saloni is right that the crucial political judgment is the choice of comrades independence don’t make it they are detached from one another as they are from parties instead the independent demands to be recognized as a unique individual who should express ourselves significantly in public as well as in private life it’s about self-expression not forming a government and New York Times columnist David Brooks who i read religiously explained the disposition that made him a confessed conservative independent he said there’s the repulsive force of team ism which is the great Corrupter of modern politics it’s the way people crush their own personalities and views in order to fit with the team this is not quite romanticism but it comes close independents are weightless but they can be forgiven the illusion of efficacy and a hint of smugness because they are the objects of such tender solicitude this was made vivid in the 2014 meeting American presidential debate between bush and carried to which only undecided and independence were invited and this continues headline of the Pew foundations 2009 studied trends and political values and core attitudes reads independence take center stage in the Obama era since the 2008 election the percentage of Americans self-described as independent has increased to thirty-six percent compared to thirty-five percent Democrats and 23 Republicans but this is a moving figure what’s more important is the Pew concludes as a group individuals remain difficult to pin down and this confirms their self reporting from another manifesto I’ve met independent voters whose political views span the entire ideological spectrum from ultra conservative to ultra liberal independent voters are impossible to pigeonhole and this is a point of pride so weightlessness comes from the fact that whatever their numbers independence are not sending a coordinated message even if hapless political analysts are in the business of trying to interpret what their votes meant on occasion nonpartisan voters may decide an election but to say that they throw an election one way the other is misleading because there is no they there simply the vicissitudes of their votes have that unplanned effect independence don’t take responsibility for the institutions that organize public discussion and elections and government and they’re not responsible to other like-minded citizens they do not owe or offer justifications to any group the independent is politically unreliable although political scientists today dump portray this is queerer lessness in henry adams words as a mask for political vacillation weakness in constancy of temperament or an excuse for self-indulgence nevertheless a potential army of independence appeals to the political imagination of anti partisans and arouses hope that they

will be the corrective to partisanship early feminists were very vocal on this point Francis Gilman described political parties as institutional expressions of inextricable masculinity and anticipated that once women had the vote a flourishing democratic government could be carried on without parties at all which is why the weightlessness of Independence is the perennial worry of anybody who wants to organize them as agents of democratic reform even Teddy Roosevelt warned against what he called mere windy anarchy he was wary of the sheer disorganization of Independence or their inclination to promiscuous coalition’s and schemes for creating an independent party typically fail amongst other reasons because learning to act in accordance with the script they don’t write themselves is what the core of political organizing is and is precisely what independence can’t abide and a recent example the most recent example I know of is this party called unity 08 with the first all online party it was formed by former Democratic and Republican Party leaders proposing to attract independence and this party didn’t list online 100,000 members but it never found candidates or a platform still the progressive goal of giving weight to independence persists and the most notable place is when it comes to the signature progressive reforms still going on today which is the direct primary election the progressive idea was to replace backroom caucuses would legally mandated direct state primaries in the open air and hopes for organizing independence and thieving control from partisans are one impetus behind ongoing legal battles today over the form the primary election should take and over who should make that decision and the best known example is a case the to Dartmouth faculty have written about brilliantly and that’s California’s Proposition 198 which was passed by popular referendum in 1996 and changed the state system from a traditional closed party primary to what was called a blanket primary that required the state to list all candidates randomly on a single ballot and it allowed voters regardless of their party affiliation to vote for any candidate from any party for any office and this meant that elections to choose a party’s nominee are open to independence and undecided and to cross over voters from rival parties to those who had best refused to affiliate with the party and it worst had expressly affiliated with a rival and whose voters are votes are potentially decisive the blanket primary was likened to some of you may see more to this than I did was like until ad to letting UCLA’s football team choose USC’s head coach well we don’t have to see the problem as one of strategic raiding it’s enough to say that an amorphous group of non partisans potentially selects the nominee that carries the party’s name and of course producing nominees and positions other than those the partisans would choose if left to their own devices was the whole point of this change California’s traditional closed primary system the advocates insisted and you should recognize this line favors the election of party hardliners and stacks the deck against moderate problem solvers so plainly this California initiative exhibited more than a whiff of aversion to partisanship it charged parties with turning off motors and it was depressing participation it identified partisans with extremists it described those who would not affiliate with the party in order to vote in a primary is disenfranchised it would have used electoral laws to lock in a particular theory of party competition centrism Democratic Republican and several minor party leaders challenged the law which was struck down by the supreme court in two thousand and this prompted something much more threatening I think to parties and institutions that is the nonpartisan primary enacted by referendum in the state of Washington that I talked about earlier and I understand I was just at UCLA giving a talk enhancing the California may have soon another initiative on the ballot for our nonpartisan primary in some I think that independence should not be conceded the moral high ground as Pew report independence or fickle their ungrounded they’re liable to mistrust and in particular they are distinctively of two minds about the scope and role of government they vote for one or another candidate but in fundamental ways they remained undecided and I think that solicitude for independence as well as partisan divisive pneus it was what makes it so dizzying for elected officials today to articulate in advance bold policy changes or even for that

matter incremental ones so posed against the luster of Independence is partisanship what is there to appreciate we contrast Democratic theorists political scientists have and continue to define democracy in terms of parties and competition amongst parties for votes and they make certain important instrumental arguments for the value of parties and partisanship they point to partisanship is the ballast of a democratic system for example they point to the role the PO reasons play in forming majorities and in organizing legislators and above all political scientists focus on the demonstrable relationship between party identification and high levels of participation so if we think that the simple act of voting is the ground upon which the edifice of elective government rests ultimately we might expect that when the percentage and the demographics of non-voters raises the alarm of democratic failing the partisanship would have its defenders but even here very few Democratic theorists find anything to appreciate in the fact that without partisans pronouncing grievances and pointing up dangers and arousing resentment and naming antagonists it is unimaginable how citizens become agents with opinions rallied for the contest my appreciation of partisanship is going to take a different turn however I’m going to focus on the moral distinctiveness of party ID so three notes of appreciation now for partisanship they correspond to the three elements of an ethic of partisanship that I’ve proposed one is the inclusive character of party ID which is characteristic though not unique to partisanship in the United States at its most basic partisanship is identification with Republicans from Florida to California and with political competition on almost every level of government and there’s no other political identity that’s shared by so many segments of the American population is measured by socioeconomic status or religion or region and partisans are not clumped tightly together on an ideological spectrum either now this is not to say that all partisans have a deep moral commitment to inclusiveness in all its social forms only that they’re ambitious to be in the majority and to be clear claiming a majority is more than just a strategic requirement of institutional design after all partisans want to win elections but often a plurality can suffice they want to have their policies enacted but there are other often more effective avenues of political advocacy and influence than partisanship rather partisans want the moral ascendancy becomes from earning the approval of the great body of the people they want a majority and more and persuading a majority of the people of R abroad swath of socioeconomic status and region and preserving it over more than one electoral moment is a triumph and in this respect partisan inclusiveness is a conscious democratic value candidates of course they have short term strategic interests or they may have safe seats that allow them to speak only to the base or to activate activate only certain voters so that non-voting is an effect of what’s missin a mobilization not its antithesis they’re liable to be opportunistic but civilian partisans aspired to persuade and mobilize as many as possible and to secure not just their vote in this election but their identification with them is partisans and their horizon of political expectation extends beyond a single election cycle and they aim at creating this inclusive we the second element of an ethic of partisanship and ground for appreciation is attachment to others in a group with responsibility for telling a comprehensive public story about the economic or social and moral or are changes of the time or about national security of course partisans sometimes focus on a specific issue or event and their parties of ideas and the competence to deal with it and of course partisans pursue partial interests but this is not unreconstructed interest group pluralism since they share a complex of concerns and they connect their particular interests and opinions to a more general conception of the public interest now it would be overstating the case to say the partisans assume the obligation the philosopher John Rawls articulated and

I’m quoting to advance a conception of the public good that is situated in the most complete conception of political justice we can that’s overstating it on the other hand it’s understanding it the case to say merely that in contrast to members of interest group or particular advocacy groups partisans are not single-issue voters what is the case is the partisans do not hold to a single value or policy as uniquely important that they identify with a complex of concerns that’s continuously refined and rearranged and there’s an important result of the comparative comprehensiveness of partisanship relative to other political identities and that’s that ordinary partisans are seldom extremists by which I mean they seldom adhere single-mindedly to one dominant idea the extremist is one eyed monotonic not just right but right on a particular matter of such singular urgency that it eclipses all competing matters and suppresses oil cautions and rationalizes unfortunate consequences now I’m trying not to use the term extremist loosely extremism is a careless and destructive charge when it’s leveled wholesale and used as a vitriolic synonym for partisanship generally on the other hand it would be wrong to think that in public discourse today when people talk about extremism it’s a thoughtful reference to a specific position on an ideological spectrum it’s rarely that I think there’s a helpful way to understand extremist applied to partisans today and I think that it indicates in the end of falling off from the elements that I’ve identified as the ethic of partisanship extremist signals failure to be inclusive to take responsibility for persuading and mobilizing voters other than purus it signals a failure of comprehensiveness single-mindedly taking one idea or aim to its limit being indifferent and unresponsive to the range of concerns facing the nation and by its failing extremism points to a third element of an ethic of partisanship and that’s what i call the disposition to compromise inclusiveness and a comprehensive account of what needs to be done are only possible if partisans also demonstrate the disposition to compromise and here I’m talking about the disposition to compromise with one another we know what compromise typically entails tolerance of small gains getting less than we want in order to get something settling for Less in order to prevent something worse we also know vivid today that the hardest compromises are often intra-party within the party and a compromise with fellow partisans is an obligation is part of creating and acknowledging and sustaining this part is in we and so am I account of extremism is a failure to exhibit the moral disposition necessary to do this work because extremists represent intransigence as a virtue and they do not find failure you know mineus now it’s also true that compromise can be evidence of abject pandering or of raw opportunism the term compromising often has a moral taint to it but if any of you are partisans I think you know for yourselves that working out the bounds of reasonable compromise is really part of the very stern discipline of partisanship and I’m going to come back to this intra-party conflicts rage over every aspect of campaigning and governing in opposition what interest in issues are the crucial lines of political division what message is communicated by a certain position in the politics of the moment what ideas or interests or candidates fall outside the bounds and are unfaithful to the soul of the party so inclusiveness and comprehensiveness and compromising this set the contours for an ethic of partisanship clearly they also provide standards for criticizing partisanship and finally I think they point to the overarching achievement of partisanship and then they point ahead to what I call the moral distinctiveness of party ID so inclusiveness comprehensiveness and compromising this enable what I take to be this distinctive work of partisanship and the achievement of political parties which is drawing politically relevant lines of division and shaping the system of conflict that orders democratic deliberation and decision party antagonism focuses attention on problems information and interpretations are

brought out stakes are deleted points of conflict and commonality are located the range of possibilities is winner and relative competence on different matters is up for judgment without party rivalry democracies theory of trial by discussion cannot be meaningful this is my argument it will not be if the inclusion of interests and opinions is exhaustive and chaotic and parties are about selection and exclusion nor will it be fruitful of interests and opinions are disorganized and are brought into opposition and their consequences are unanticipated no argument is evaded politically salient positions are unlikely to be cast as a serious conflict of posing reasons unless partisans do the work of advocating on the side of the Angels shaping conflict is what partisans do and what will not be done certainly not regularly unreasonably coherently in the way that representative democracy requires without them this account that I’ve given of the achievement of partisanship speaks directly to my colleagues to contemporary Democratic theorists who all prize democratic deliberation they prize the deliberation that includes a variety of perspectives but at the same time they ignore or reject partisanship in fact the clash of political beliefs and the interests and attitudes that are likely to influence them that john rolls and other political philosophers concede is a normal condition of human life do not spontaneously assume a form amenable to democratic debate and decision and parties are not simply reflections automatic reflections of cleavages that are there in xiety any more than they adopt fully developed conceptions of justice that exists antecedent to political activity party competition is constitutive it creates a system of conflict it stages the battle that is partisans do and attempting to capture this the incomparable political scientists of parties more recent affair Jay used language that moves back and forth between metaphors of natural and artistic creation he writes parties crystallize coagulate synthesized smooth down mold creativity in politics is very rarely a subject of political theory and when it comes up is always identified with founding moments or constitutional design or with higher law making or with transformative social movements or with revolution and not with normal politics partisanship I argue is the ordinary not ordinarily extraordinary locus of political creativity now this achievement of parties is regularly disparaged and to bring this point home I want to return to the blanket primary case of California Democratic Party view Jones case the question for the court in that case was whether the asserted state interest in increasing voter turnout by allowing independence and rival party members to vote out waive the party’s claim that the blanket prominent primary was compelled Association in violation of their constitutional First Amendment right of association that is their right to determine how inclusive the process of candidate selection should be an agenda setting should be at what stage the Supreme Court actually ruled California’s blanket primary angst unconstitutional we ruled in the party’s favor but not because it acknowledged the primary elections were important fora for the business of parties and partisanship its side of the court sided with parties strictly on the basis of their own constitutional precedents when it came to right of Association and the one as i said the washington state nonpartisan primary with a response to the supreme court ruling I bring it up again because from the point of view of political theory from the perspective of democratic theory we see that the significance of part of your autonomy here isn’t just a constitutional right of association the significance of party autonomy has to do with what we understand to be the role in achievement of partisans the worth of our right to vote doesn’t exist apart from the institutional framework in which it’s exercised and the meaningfulness of our vote is going to be dependent on the political identity of parties and their candidates that is centrally it’s going to depend on the achievement of parties in drawing lines of division political identity is refined and tested at the primary stage of Elections where party select their candidates and driving issues and the effect of a legally mandated blanket primary will not just be to alter the identity of the candidate in some ways that’s the least of the problems but to subvert the whole business of partisanship which is

drawing these lines of division so I propose three elements of an ethic of partisanship and I’ve identified what I take to be the overarching achievement of parties and finally I want to make good on the title of my talk the moral distinctiveness of party ID a commitment to political pluralism to regulated political rivalry and to shifting responsibility for government makes party ID the morally distinctive political identity of representative democracy to put this simply in other terms while thinking that they should speak to everyone partisans don’t imagine that they speak for the whole or that their victory is anything but partial and temporary now it’s true partisans are on the side of the Angels offering a satisfactory account of what needs to be done but however ardent and devoid of skepticism there is this reticence and that’s the moral distinctiveness of party ID partisans don’t imagine that their party speaks for the whole even in power they’re not the nation Tocqueville observed the parties in America no and everyone knows that no party represents everyone or even a permanent this fact he wrote results from their very existence but it requires a real stern self-discipline to acknowledge partiality when is a powerful urge to claim the mantle of the nation and to pretend to represent thoughtful Americans Tony Blair when he was Prime Minister I think lacked this reticence when he declared his ambition to make the Labour Party into the political wing of the British people as a whole by contrast Barack Obama exhibited this reticence when he said on the night of the New Hampshire primary you can be the new majority who can lead this nation out of a long political darkness our new American majority can end the outrage partisans accept political rivalry regulated rightfully and the fact that this political conflict is iterative they keep the losing side in view on the ready not just to alter a particular outcome but to have their party take responsibility for governing they don’t succeed or revolt or withdraw and defeat and elections are not followed by waves of suicide now as one colleague once said it’s true greatness is made of sterner stuff than successfully facing the exigencies of the electoral cycle well maybe but political aspirants must channel their ambitions through this collective constraining typically unheroic institution and they do have to endure the terror of the opposition’s vigilance and exposure and for we ordinary citizens partisans partisanship entails the Hard Knocks of compromise and defeat one more iteration of this point partisanship is the political identity that doesn’t see political pluralism and conflict is about a necessity or a glum concession to the inner attic of the circumstances of politics we might think that the vicissitudes of political fortune and the limits of human volition would make this existentially true Affeldt experience or it might say that all Democratic citizens or voters have a part in this moral distinctiveness as they do formerly I guess in the abstract we’ve seen however that often Democratic citizens see political argument is unnecessary and political conflict as a legitimate they value independence detachment or pragmatism or above all consensus its partisans who assume the task of shaping a system of political conflict we know that in political life partiality and disagreement are probably inescapable and so are groups and associations of all kinds organized in opposition to one another but except when we’re reading the news from fragile democracies we tend to forget that parties and partisanship are not inevitable and should not be taken for granted and so between high mind and disapproval on the one hand and taking partisanship for granted on the other I think we’re liable to lose sight of the achievement now one last thing if partisan if anti partisanship were simply of the moment if I were just talking about right now skeptics of my appreciation of partisanship might be forgiven after all recent experience in American politics has fuelled anti-party ISM and anti partisanship party leaders often seem to want to destroy one another as a legitimate opposition their hubris tit claiming to represent the nation not apart compromise even with their fellow partisans doesn’t seem to be in their repertoire even if the public business doesn’t get done and so the thrust of my ethic of partisanship is critical as well as appreciative falling off from this ethic of partisanship doesn’t make my characterization an idealization and

it’s not a reason to constrain or circumvent parties and partisanship and it’s certainly no reason to prize independence or to anticipate post partisanship that would be a hopeless idealization and misguided abandonment of what I take to be the distinctive political identity of representative democracy because what we need is not independence or post partisanship but better partisanship which is all the more reason for Democratic theorists to connect the practice of democratic citizenship with partisanship and to consider the conditions of better partisanship as seriously as they do in Portia reality and independence and institutions designed to work without parties or partisanship parties remain in a famous phrase the orphans of political philosophy and democratic theorists I’ve argued should adopt them and take them in thank you I’m happy to take questions yeah it seems it seems to me that we’re citizens in a pluralistic society but we’re living in a a partisan duopoly that really what you’re critiquing is to party ISM and not partisanship and that this problem is unique to the United States and perhaps the the lesson we learned in the newly democratized countries of the world is that they didn’t adopt our model they didn’t adopt a duopoly in a partisan way how would you respond to that um well first of all I’m not a critic of the two-party system although I for a variety of reasons I mean they’re they’re pros and cons which both political theorists and political scientists can point out to PR systems multi-party systems versus our two-party system I think it certainly is a serious criticism if you think that the parties have entrenched themselves so that they district in order to have safe seats or they create election laws that make it impossible for other candidates in new parties and so on to enter I think that that is a problem and the question and the serious criticism and the question for legal scholars has been how do you get around that and their variety of proposals some states have independent commissions that make these kinds of decisions but what’s interesting in the election law scholarship today is the claim that the Supreme Court should be the regulator of the democratic system and should take all kinds of actions to prevent the entrenchment self entrenchment of not just one party but the sort of duopoly of the party working together and I think that this is a problem that is I think the political competition is an important although map the exclusive important or standard of a democratic system but per se i’m not an opponent of to party ism in the united states for that matter nor am i are necessarily a critic of polarized parties in the united states well the argument that i’ve made is that that’s not necessarily true that is that there are a variety of kinds of independence and that what the political identity of independence typically is is anti-partisan and that there are these fundamentalists that the only form of independence that you might say conforms to what you’re describing or what I’ve said circumstantial independence that is they think that these particular parties entrenched as they are and of the sort that they are don’t correspond to the political judgments that they think are important to have in in politics and whether that really is a circumstantial judgment and if the parties were different right in some ways whether they were more centrist for some of them were more more differentiated for others whether that would end their anti partisanship is something that might be true but that I’m skeptical of that is that I think that independence is a political identity that supposed to partisanship per se that the luster of Independence is formed that it’s taken here has to do with this proud self designation and not want it and which is one of the reasons why it’s it’s very hard to organize these people into anything or even into several things and just to reiterate the point that I made early on in the lecture it’s I’m not identifying independence with simply voters or citizens who have no preference between these parties because they don’t like it right I’m identifying independence with those people who designate themselves as having this thing called a political identity called

independence i right so it seems as though your argument is a timely one in the sense that the kinds of citizens you’re talking about didn’t exist a hundred years ago or 50 years ago or in any substantial numbers or even 30 years ago right it since the 90s that we see a real movement toward identifying oneself as an independent and so in that sense it may be true that political philosophy and a long-standing American values add luster to that political identity right as in as an intellectual matter we’ve prized independence for quite a while socially and economically in America we’ve prized independence for quite some time but it can’t be the case that those trends or those traditions explain where these citizens or this kind of citizen identity is coming from because that seems to have bubbled up again in the last 20 years or so so I guess I’m curious as to where you think that’s coming from why you think there’s been this trend you mentioned David Brooks in your talk and he has some ideas about what’s going on in the 90s that’s produced ago you know politics of beyond I was wondering if you could comment a little bit um on your views yeah first let me krimmel a little bit about your characterization of the novelty of the state of affairs I think that independence is a political identity although it hasn’t been a label right that that pollsters use right that the independence is a political identity is explicit non-partisanship is not wanting to be identified with either of the parties it’s not being taken for granted is a recurrent phenomenon in American politics and it was that virtually everything that said and written today could have been said and written at the turn of the century during the Progressive year so so it’s not new what is new is polling and calibrating these things and pollsters beginning to provide you with this category right how are you do you have no preference or your Democrat are you independent leanin independent air pure independent I mean so what’s new is our calibration and and ability to pull for this but i think that the phenomenon is not new now i don’t want to blame it on pollsters and political scientists right so i think that if you want to say that there has that although this phenomenon is not a new look new that it’s a recurrent phenomenon in american politics that it has deep cultural and political cultural roots of the soda i describe still is the question why now and there are answers the political scientists give to this that I think have have a parts of the puzzle I mean the part of the puzzle that they don’t talk about is what I talked about today but the parts of the puzzles that they talked talked about our first of all the real decline in the nature of political parties and political party organization over time the political parties used to offer patronage and they used to mobilize voters in a particular way and they used to have make this connection of party identification and that parties themselves as organizations have ceased to be membership groups that it’s note that it they they have they have backed off from the business of making and keeping partisans and there are explanations for why they’ve been able to do so they’ve been able to do so because of the nature of campaigning today or they’ve been able to do so because the difficulty of the expensiveness of doing that and the variety of explanation organizational and technological explanations for why parties have changed in that way and what we saw in the last election which i think is really quite interesting is the attempt for the first time in a long time I the democratic party to attend to partisanship right to do grassroots political organizing remember Howard Dean terribly criticized for what was called his 50-state strategy right he was going to set up party offices in 50 states right and not just in 50 states and localities in counties right wherever you want a political organization he put a lot of party money into and it is very expensive and I’m the Obama campaign sort of reinforced that in a variety of ways I will be very interested to see whether this continues I’m quite skeptical about whether in this day and age the parties will put this kind of money and organizational effort into these into these things so we’ll we’ll see but they are reaping the whirlwind of not i’m not doing hi I was wondering whether in your view

the moral distinctiveness of party ID dissipates in a multi-party system and I was just thinking of the political system of France for example and it seems like the parties there are too numerous to count wikipedia i just looked it up says that there are 18 and four of them are on the far right so those parties aren’t inclusive and they’re not comprehensive and they don’t have a disposition to compromise so do you think that when they form a winning coalition that the parties that are part of that coalition like regain the ethics of partisanship and does that mean that the parties that don’t form the winning coalition are not entitled to that moral distinctiveness that’s a great question and I’m I’m not going to be able to answer it to your satisfaction this book in this talk is largely about American and a few other party systems that have what we think of as large umbrella parties and I have talked to and and and blood with which is now what you do comparative political scientists on this question to the extent to which what I’ve described extends to other party systems and the consensus seems to be that it does but not because remember my epochs of partisanship is not descriptive it’s a standard of what you ought to do that every party unless it’s really a segmented party in a divided society right ought to be engaged in speaking to everyone right ought to want to maximize its membership or to be willing to compromise and so on and so forth that there’s an orthodoxy in political science about about the the trade-offs in a two-party or umbrella party system in a PR system and I’m sure some of you know know all about it and systems that are multi-party who was I talking to in sonuus class from Italy nice oh yeah right I mean that’s the extreme oh that what PR and multi-party systems do successfully is that they don’t require compromise on the front side right because part isn’t confined some spot on the spectrum right some party that seems to reflect their views but the translation of that into the formation of a government and policy is much less predictable right then what goes on in a two-party system but your question was was really about does the my ethics of partisanship apply and if i were to work this out which i probably will try to do i think that applies somewhat but imperfectly blue shirt hi so um yes i was listening to what you said about independence and some of the words you use a weightless and sort of unengaged in politics and that i really first of all don’t feel like that’s true maybe maybe of some independence but not of all independence not myself for instance so i was wondering if you could comment on that and then also well you have to comment well oh sorry but I mean about characterizing independence in that way it almost seems like lumping them into a group just like partisans which whereas you said that they’re not able to lump into a group and then secondly i understand that political parties are sort of essential for competition in a political system and from time to time of you considered joining one is but then i hear statements from party leaders that are just so totally devoid of substance and it’s all about how the the opposing party is failing the American people and failing to govern properly and it seems like so much of what political parties talk about whether it’s organizing people or trying to discredit the other party is not concerned with the actual business of politics which is making which I see is making laws that will actually benefit the country and the people of the country so if parties are if parties are just focusing on rhetoric and gaining members rather than providing solutions are they really following this ethic or are they I guess I just don’t understand how parties can be all about just organizing people and

being inclusive and not about substantive solutions to the nation’s problems okay so you’ve asked two different things you’ve said I’m wrong in my characterization of Independence and I really don’t think so but I I claim that no independent is interested in politics right or is well-informed I took what are the claims made about independence today for their superiority over partisans and tried to dissect them I mean that was the the sort of character and dynamic of the argument and for you to you because you were like my students very well informed and politically active and engaged independent the most important challenge for you for you and answering me is the weightlessness challenge that is if that it isn’t it your obligation is somebody who is politically engaged and interested I’m not saying that all citizens have to vote and I certainly not saying that you know everybody has to be active in partisanship there are all kinds of others political activity and I was married to somebody who never voted so you know I’m completely talent but once you’re in it once you are you right then don’t you have some responsibility for the institutions that organize the lines of division that make up democratic politics today and you cannot take on that responsibility as an independent unless you’re interested in doing political organizing of Independence which i think is a hopeless task so the other the other the other part of your question is you know the sort of standard claim about aren’t part of politicians today and this top was mainly about reef artisans right or civilians are partisan politicians today just negative and so on and so forth and I have a lot of things to say to that first of all I think that the fact that parties are engaged in pointing out the errors of the opposition or the failings of the opposition or the in competence of the opposition is part of their job I mean I think that that’s what they do and to say that that’s all the only thing they do in those sort of abstract in negative terms i think is a misrepresentation of the last elections we’ve been through and we we have been through a period of American politics where we have very clearly defined parties with severe both policy and ideological differences where it matters who’s in office so you know I don’t and and where the outcome of politics I think has been very very substantial depending upon what party is in control and what compromises they make or don’t make I mean it is a is an orthodoxy of the moment that we have such polarized parties in Congress today that nothing is getting done now here I’m stepping out of my role as political theorist obviously these two years it’ll be two years in the November electric an enormous amount has gotten to you may not like the outcomes of these things you may not think they’re good part but can you imagine think of a two year period in which more important policies were made which in which more substantive things were done in which more money wasn’t spent in which education policy and stabilization and buyouts and probably a health care bill and a tax bill energy jobs bill and I mean what do you all want me this this is active partisan politics and again you may not like the outcomes you may have thought that the parties drew the lines of division wrong you may have thought that the policy agenda that they took up with the wrong order of policy agenda but I’m not making an argument for or against one party on making an argument for the significance the necessity of a certain kind of partisan politics and in a sense the obligation of citizens who are engaged in this to pay attention to partisan yes in the blue shield I just had a I just had a question about the recent the Tea Party movement and which likes to characterize itself is independent while calling it felf a party and I was just wondering how you feel that fits into your idea of independence neither I nor anyone so far as I can tell can make hind their hair out of the cheap Harding movement I mean I clearly I think I think clearly that many of them are what we call conservative everything and mainly what we’re seeing is a group of people who are angry and anti-government and you know whether they turn out to be

politically independent or whether they all turn out actually to be Republican partisans I don’t know I think what’s significant about them is not that what’s significant about them if they’re significant and I’m agnostic on that is that they are canary in the mine of anti-government ilysm I mean we we have seen this too is a long story in American politics right of not wanting government action it and can I just say one thing apropos of this and then else I’ll stop um I’ve gotten quite interested in the subject of political compromise and I’ve started to write some papers on this because there’s actually very little written certainly in political theory on I’m political compromise and and one of the things I’ve become conscious of this is to the Tea Party is that you don’t have political compromise unless you want political action right that’s what compromise is all about it’s to get something done right to get some action and there are a lot of impediments to political compromise and American politics but one of them is one of them is the very deep and very widespread disinterest in in having political action in governmental action and where you have a strong resistance to getting things done in fact you’re going to you have a kind of obstacle to political compromise because that’s what it’s about I’ll take one more question just see if there’s another student yeah could you quickly explain them in Perot phenomenon was that just collective weightlessness of 20 million people no I think of the Perot phenomenon was potentially very important cause blog you may not be made if the Colin Powell had run in a subsequent election he would have drawn quite a larger sector of society no absolutely Perrault was interesting for I think two main reasons one is that he was a centrist candidate right and and he was in a sense the proof of the pudding for political scientists who argue that centrism is the way to go in American politics and on all of these issues right the parties were not hitting the mark and he had found the mark I mean I think that’s right and and and the other interesting thing about perot for me was the failure to exploit this moment I mean I don’t know that you would ever have had a really competitive in independent party but every could I forget what he called his party but but a reformed party right but he didn’t try nor did his people try I mean he had a candidate he had a vice presidential candidate and he didn’t do party building it is hard is expensive and nobody wants to do it and in effect therefore Perrault was what we have pretty frequently which is an independent candidate but not a party and there was nowhere to go and I have to say that one of the interesting things to me about the sort of christian right in this country is that you know they never tried to form their own party they tried to have influence within republican party but what they did do was very basic grassroots party organizing and they went after school boards right and over city councils and they began to develop what really looks like a party organization apartment but now I think that they were inherent constraints to how far they could go and they hit them but they did what Perot or somebody would have had to do to build build a party and I think we’ll stop there thank you