Representation in Crisis: The Constitution, Interest Groups, and Political Parties

By David K. Ryden | Go to book overview

CHAPTER SIX
Party Subsystems as a Response to the Neopluralist Argument

Congress and the courts have begun a largely untested social science experiment in the realm of campaign financing to equalize the political influence of all relevant groups. It is unlike race-based redistricting, which sought to enhance group representation selectively. Those dalliances were meant to be temporary and remedial, for historically disadvantaged or oppressed minorities. In campaign finance, the Court's objective is broader, its means more pervasive. The goal is to modulate and temper the political input of some political groups to achieve equal influence for all. This approach has far-reaching implications for representation, and compels a careful evaluation. The standard for assessing it is two- fold. First, does it coincide with and incorporate the multifaceted paradigm of representation? Second, does it confront the individual and collective sides of the pluralist dilemma, the paradoxical goals of unity and diversity? In the end, group-based representation is susceptible to criticisms on both fronts. Its weaknesses point to an alternative, that of party subsystems.

On a theoretical level, formal group-based structures of representation appear incapable of satisfying the inherent pluralist tension between individual and collectivism. Based on principles of group-specific separatism and segmentation, they may be incapable of generating sound, broad-based, publicly interested policy outcomes. On a practical level, implementation of group-constituted

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