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The Two-Party System

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Charles Mason
August 12, 2022

While the will of the people could be wrong, public administrators should remain neutral because partisan politics divide us. As public administrators, we are the people’s voice; their voices are manifested through policies designed to deliver human services that allow our communities to operate. Communities rely on public administrators to provide daily services and those during a natural disaster.

As public administrators, we are not blind to the outcomes of some misguided policies. However, Federalism in America distributes power between the Federal Government and the individual States. We must not forget that the State governments created the federal system and gave it limited power. The two dominant political parties throughout American history have been the Republican Party and the Democratic Party. Both parties have different philosophies and ideas, and they play an essential role in our system of government. The Democratic Party believes in a strong centralized government, while the Republican Party believes in more power for the individual States. Our system of government allows for a balanced approach to public administration and ensures that no one party has too much power. It also allows government authority to be checked, as each group works to ensure its policies are passed. This system may not be faultless, but it has functioned as our form of government for years.

Advocates or a Neutral Party

The question arises, can public administrators be the arbitrators for both parties? Or are we self-appointed non-neutral arbitrators who are not bound by the limits of impartiality? Without neutrality, can we, as administrators, focus on public policy and administration in general?

Will our partiality lead us to a lack of autonomy and incompetence before the people we serve? Some party agents may refuse to fulfill their responsibilities thoroughly and in good faith. This has and will tarnish the public administrator’s role and, in some cases, are grounds for disqualification. The public administrator should follow a political doctrine, not take sides in political disputes and we should remain unbiased. Our public administrator system exists to ensure that the government remains non-biased and works for all the people. This stance would create a more stable government and efficiently conduct the people’s will. This view may encourage community involvement in the local, state and national governments.

The Deep State?

There is a fear among some Americans of an inflexible bureaucratic system of governance. Our federal system divides power between the central government and the various local and state governments. Individual citizens can make contact at several levels—the lower the level, the more excellent the communication between the citizens and the government administrators. Therefore, we can see a patchwork of Blue, Red and Purple power centers within a state. As a result, it can be difficult for one party to win enough support to govern alone. This system provides stability and allows for the people’s voices to be felt and heard in their local communities; it also offers effective public administration. Although the system has drawbacks, it has served the country well for spans and is unlikely to change anytime soon. That is if we can hold it together and appear transparent.

Cautions and Warnings

Under our federalist system, power is divided between the national and state governments. There is a great divide between government officials in administration; this is by design and currently works. A top-down approach such as Hitler’s government, with federalized elections, federalized police force and majority rule, would only lead to tyranny for us all. Our current national government cannot make laws that apply to all conditions. The state governments can make laws that apply only to their situation. This separation ensures that the national government cannot make laws that would be unfair to the Red or Blue states. Federalism also provides that the Red or Blue state governments cannot make laws that would be unfair to the citizens of Purple states. Our system of government offers a balance of power between the two levels of government. Some reactionaries wish to burn it all down. Unbelievably our method provides a balance of power between the two major political parties. This balance of strength helps to ensure that the government cannot make decisions that would be unfair to either party for any length of time as the people would have a say every 2, 4 and 6 years.

Finally, Public administration is another important aspect of the system. Public administration is the process by which the government conducts its business. Public administrators are accountable for managing the programs of our nation. We safeguard these policies and conduct in good faith.

As practitioners in public administration, we make assessments constantly; we are responsible for setting the framework for the success or failure of our nation. We consider the specifics as best we can, then establish and evaluate the appropriate standards inherent in each situation. Yes, we have personal values to consider. But we must remember that it is the people’s will, not our own. We either serve the public or rule them.

Author: Charles Mason MPA, is a Doctoral Candidate at Walden University in Public Policy and Administration with a Specialization in Criminal Justice. He has over 30 plus years in local law enforcement, state corrections and military service. He is currently president of Mason Security. He can be reached at charles.mason@masonelearning.com. Twitter: https://twitter.com/DRCharlesMason

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