Google Co-Founder, Sergey Brin, made an extraordinary call to America’s politicians today: he pleaded for them to denounce political parties. “Please withdraw from your respective parties and govern as independents in name and in spirit,” he wrote on Google+ (full statement below):
I must confess, I am dreading today’s elections.
Not because of who might win or lose.
Not because as a Californian, my vote for President will count 1/3 as much as an Alaskan (actually it won’t matter at all — I’m not in a swing state).
Not because my vote for Senate will count 1/50 as much as an Alaskan.
But because no matter what the outcome, our government will still be a giant bonfire of partisanship. It is ironic since whenever I have met with our elected officials they are invariably thoughtful, well-meaning people. And yet collectively 90% of their effort seems to be focused on how to stick it to the other party.
So my plea to the victors — whoever they might be: please withdraw from your respective parties and govern as independents in name and in spirit. It is probably the biggest contribution you can make to the country.
[If you agree, pass it on to your newly elected officials.]
Of course, Brin’s call is a tad impractical: every democracy on Earth has some party structure. Even though some American Founding Fathers despised political parties (what they called “factions”), they saw it as inevitable. “No free country has ever been without parties, which are a natural offspring of freedom,” wrote James Madison.
One popular, if contentious, solution to bitter partisanship is a multi-party system, where multiple groups are constantly forging new alliances based on specific issues, rather than a constant zero-sum tug-of-war where each party has the same enemy on every problem. Such “Consensus” democracies do exist around the world, but would require both Democrats and Republicans to give up power.
Perhaps more importantly, Brin might have disagreement within his own office suite, as his long-time business partner, Chairman Eric Schmidt, is a well-known Obama supporter.