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Opinions of Sunday, 27 December 2020

Columnist: Abdul Razak Lukman

Is it the political party or its members?

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Of late, I have had fruitful discussions with revered academics regarding the conduct of political parties in Ghana and which party has a ground footing to pique the interest of the youth and working population in the country. I would say that it interests me to discuss this topic in detail using political parties in the United States of America without having to entangle myself in the Ghanaian political tantrums. I chose this path to avoid Ghanaian political fanatics losing side with the substance of this piece. It is instructive to know that in politics, there is really no “good” or “bad”. However, I will say that the Democratic Party, particularly among younger people, seems to value compassion, inclusivity, and sensitivity more so than Republicans. Of course, this is never true for every member of a party, and it’s more up to finding what you think is “good” and seeing which party’s official stance most aligns with that.

It is not the political party— it is the leaders and the people who make a country great. So the political party having contemporary best leaders is best for a country. No one party has a lock on superiority. One section of US citizens view Democrats as the party of the people, the party for the powerless who are desperate to overthrow the social order. Another section of the populace believes that the Republicans are the party of the rich, party of the military, the church and a party of those in power desperate to retain power. Whatever your conclusions might be, both sides have a following which is indisputably great with sharp brains. The GOP might work for business owners by keeping taxes and regulation low to maximise business profits while the Democrats work for employees to help them earn more and get more help for better public education and be able to fund health care etc. So whatever your lenses are able to capture, the results appear good for one section at a time. So my argument is on the basis that the functioning of political parties is not just about the party as an association but the membership that steers the affairs of the same. Thus, members of political parties can decide to be socialists or capitalists. Whichever way it is, the decision lies on the members of political parties.

In US, each party accuses the other of the same corruption in which they all participate. In the case of the US, the Democrats were the party which caused the Civil War and championed slavery and Jim Crow laws. They got the US involved in the Vietnam War and the global arms race. Yet, they claim to champion the poor and minorities. The Republicans too have their flaws; tax cuts for the wealthy, the Wars in Iraq. On top of all these, power-mad social media barons have taken it on themselves to censor political views that they don’t care for. So wherever you stand and which political lens you are glued to, there are definitely going to be some positive aspects from both ends and same as the negatives.

There are others who argue that political parties should be abandoned in favour of voting only for independents who have no loyalty to political party views but resolve to represent their electorate in the best interests of their country, as a whole. I stand not to support this view entirely as that could also breed dictatorship relative to decisions taken on behalf of the nation.

The question really is not about the independence of members but how professional, diligent, loyalty to one’s country and putting the country over any other considerations —making sure that there is always value for money audit on all transactions entered on the country’s behalf. If leaders are very open to citizens for accountability on every transaction entered using the People's Wealth, then there wouldn’t be an issue of independent representatives and political parties.

We need to know that parties are meant to be moderating forces on party ideology. Effective parties have to build a platform that would appeal to anyone. It’s the job of the parties to temper and moderate candidates so that equitable compromises can be reached. If compromises cannot be made for the good of the party and the country, then the party cannot effectively work to attain power. Political parties motives aren’t just about the good of the country, no! Their first priority is about what membership would gain when power is attained before talking of building the country. Party membership first before the country.

In my view as of now which is subject to change based on the prevailing circumstances, speaking of some of the elected officials, party principles, and declared candidates, the Democratic Party is logically, critically, and morally superior. The majority of Democratic officeholders are more honest, knowledgeable, and effective than most Republican officeholders. These statements are true not universally but only in the majority of cases. That is not to say that we have not brilliant Republican officeholders— we have just that the leader of GOP and POTUS (Mr Trump) is making a mockery of Republican officeholders. Political Beliefs are all subjective which can change with your emotions and are formed by how and where you grew up. Politics is opinions.

The reason parties are necessary is because they give like-minded people a chance to assemble and discuss what they think are important issues to present to the voters. The black side is that political parties treat people who remain unconditionally loyal to their party as heroes and people who are independent thinkers and deviate from the establishment as villains. The unconditional love for one’s political party can render you morally and legally helpless for your country. Because your view as an unconditional member is the party over country—thus party first. Parties vote for party positions, party lines, more than for particular policy options based on their merits. They are designed not to work in a bipartisan fashion and inevitably cause legislative gridlock. Their legislative strength is in solidarity, voting as a bloc. They vote the party’s interest as much or more than that of the public interest.

If you're going to become a politician within any political party, you are most likely going to have to compromise your morals and values if you wish to gain success. Political parties in general reward people for compromising on things that they truly believe in, which is why countless politicians are insincere and don't really care about their land. If politicians don't play ball for the party, pretty soon their chances of rising through the ranks will evaporate.