Article VI. Elections Foster Disunion (Faction)

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union…” — Gouverneur Morris (Preamble to the US Constitution)


The framers chose semi-annual popular elections as the means by which we citizens select a few among us to govern.  To those who believe  elections, when fairly and justly administered,  are democratic and representative, this appears to be a pretty no-brainer choice.  And, to students of ancient Athens and Kenneth Arrow (see Article II), no-brainer (as in mindless) is exactly what it is!

Yet, even beyond the fact that elections are anti-democratic and cannot dependably provide representative results when more than two candidates compete for an office (see Arrow), elections sow the seeds of faction and partisanship that invariably undermine the very union the framers purported the constitution would perfect.  At their most fundamental level elections are contests used as practical means to resolve policy disputes and to choose from among competing contenders to public office.  And while election contests are surely more civilized than the barbaric contests of enlisting the strongest members of opposing tribes to engage in fights to the death, they remain contests, nonetheless — dividing contestants and their supporters into competing groups of adversaries (a.k.a. factions) in which winning, not uniting, becomes the hallowed goal.

It is true that contests can unite members within any given faction, but they also establish the conditions in which corrosive divisions among competing factions flourish.  And they do very little for those who are not affiliated with the dominant factions.

Consider the classic college basketball contests between the University of North Carolina and neighboring Duke University.  While the rivalry between these two basketball powerhouses unites coaches, teams, student bodies, alumni, many who reside within the Research Triangle, and many other basketball fans across the nation in their opposition to counterparts on the opposing side; these spirited contests never seem to settle matters, or convince fans on either side to convert.  Nor do they do much of anything for those who are neither a Duke or UNC fan.  Rather, such contests generally incite tremendous enthusiasm among fan bases on both sides in the run-up to the contest; they generally produce extreme excitement during the tallying that goes on during the contest; they generally leave one side delirious and the other side depressed upon the conclusion of the contest; and the contest conclusion generally serves only to set up fevered anticipation of the next contest among fans of either school.

This is really no different than what happens when Democrats and Republicans (or pick any faction of your choice) mix it up in biannual election contests.  When the votes are tallied we are left having spent billions of dollars to split ourselves into winners and losers; and have done little to advance the collective (a.k.a. united) interests of our nation.

Can it get any worse?  Stay tuned.

— iGregor


[Note:  Comments are invited at the conclusion of Article X.]

Published in: on October 27, 2010 at 11:00  Comments Off on Article VI. Elections Foster Disunion (Faction)