A Major Flaw Afflicting All Democracies

mixing ‘party politics’ with governing

Stephen Yearwood
2 min readOct 15, 2023
Photo by Kelly Sikkema on Unsplash

Democratic nations face many challenges. Some are challenges all nations face, such as unemployment, poverty, housing, health care, etc. Others are peculiar to democratic systems of governance. It must be acknowleged that those do add to the difficulty of governing.

To a point, at least, non-democratic governments can be indifferent to the needs of the citizenry. Democracy is worth more trouble because it is all about the needs of the citizenry. Even the most egregiously nefarious proposals as far as the interests of ‘the people’ are concerned are carefully crafted to pay lip service to that dictum.

More importantly, democracy is the only just form of governance. Without it, maximizing equal liberty for all is simply not on the agenda. Still, lessening the difficulty of governing via democracy would certainly be a good thing to accomplish.

All democratic nations have always had multiple political parties. They are vehicles for channeling aspirations for the community as a whole into laws, programs, and policies.

Unfortunately, political parties also serve other purposes. As things stand, governance in democracies is comingled with wrangling within and among political parties. They are vehicles for personal ambition, for narrow interests without regard for the community as a whole, and for that matter for the sheer lust for power as an end in itself. Moreover, the interests of ‘the party’ can become more important to its members than the well-being of the community — or the latter gets to be equated, consciously or not, with the former.

All in all, governing through political parties makes it is all too easy for the best interests of the community as a whole to get lost in heedless, reflexive competition and other matters that are entirely separate from the interests of the community as a whole. Governing any community is hard enough without those kinds of burdens added onto the process. We really need to find some way of separating the process of governing from all that.

One option would be to do away with political parties altogether. To his eternal credit, Dave Volek has developed a whole new approach to governing in a democratic way that would accomplish precisely that.

Another option would be to create a gap somehow between ‘party politics’ and the actual process of governing. I have developed a proposal towards that end.

Politics, its being something done by people, will always be subject to the vagaries of human nature. So ego, lust for power, personality conflicts, etc. cannot be removed from politics — the process of effecting choices for the community as a whole. Still, if we could at least make governing about nothing but those choices, without the added burden of ‘party politics’, then we could make democratic governance a far more viable proposition.



Stephen Yearwood

unaffiliated, non-ideological, unpaid: M.A. in political economy (where philosophy and economics intersect) with a focus in money/distributive justice