Partisanship Is Good for Democracy.

Slate's Chris Beam has the best take on "No Labels":

Perhaps the greatest achievement of No Labels is to show why labels exist in the first place. They're so busy talking about what they're not—not Republican, not Independent, not conservative, not liberal—you never get a handle on what they are. Labels are a useful shortcut for voters who want to know what a group is all about. The lack of a positive mission beyond bipartisanship and civility (which both Republicans and Democrats also call for) makes it hard to know what they really want.

If there is a case to be made for partisanship, it's that voters deserve a clear choice. It's easy to long for a time when the parties could work together on everything under the sun, but as Beam points out, this was terrible for voters; if you could count on the same policies regardless of who you voted for, what's the use in voting? Why should you participate when your vote has no impact on the behavior of your elected officials?

Ideologically coherent parties are bad for bipartisanship, but they are good for democracy. With clear choices, voters gain certainty, a real reason to join the process, and a lot more accountability; because the GOP is an unambiguously conservative party, voters can expect conservative representatives, and punish deviations when necessary.

Admittedly, this is something of a simplification. Still, it's useful to see how partisanship benefits our politics, and even more useful to see how the fervent anti-partisanship of groups like "No Labels" is an attempt to make politics distant and remote to the good majority of Americans.

-- Jamelle Bouie

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