Adversarial politics, transparency and independence – some questions.

Ding Dong! An argument can draw crowds. But can it solve anything?

Ding Dong! An argument can draw crowds. But can it solve anything?

Here’s a good post from an Australian blogger on the question: Is adversarial politics damaging to our democracy? (It’s actually an update on a previous post with that title). Here the adversarialism is opposed by a more attractive ‘deliberative’ model of the kind advocated here. The flipside of this argument is put very well by Peter Levine here:

“As I told the Christian Science Monitor in 2006, “Polarization tends to be a mobilizing factor in getting out the vote.” At CIRCLE, we helped to organize randomized experiments of voter outreach with the goal that the parties would learn new techniques and compete more effectively for our target population (youth). I believe we and our colleagues had some influence on the parties and thereby helped boost turnout. We also funded a study that found that parties were under-investing in their young members. Again, our goal was to persuade them to become more effective.”

There is, of course, the adversarial politics of Parliament and the media that we are all familiar with. These arguments are fairly well played out, though they are always worth revisiting. The obvious conclusion, for me is a somewhat muddy preference for a bit-of-both.

However, there is the often-overlooked challenge of adversarial legalism’ towards a supposedly ‘elite-dominated’ form of representative democracy in which various minority groups seek to take a role in the political process using courts to secure rights that protect individuals and minorities. Continue reading