A Democrat Looks at His Party, by Dean Acheson
Politics is an art which deals in ideas and interests. The voters’ interests must be served; otherwise they vote for somebody else. This means that the policies of a party, in or out of office, must be framed in response to the demands expressed by the various “interest groups” which make up the electorate; that is the practical politician’s job. But it is not enough to know what the people want—one must also know how to get it for them. This means that a party must produce ideas, creative solutions to the hard problems of modern life that will appeal to the voters and further their interests; that is the intellectual’s job in politics. The rare man who can do both, who can create an idea which arouses and serves an interest the people did not know they had, is called a statesman.
Dean Acheson, in A Democrat Looks at His Party—a stimulating and elegant essay on the two-party system—compares our parties with regard to both interests and ideas, and gives the Democrats top marks in each case. The Democrats, he says, are and always have been a coalition of “many interests” and, as a result, always have the interest of the broad mass of the people at heart. For the same reason, they are willing to apply every governmental power to the advancement of the general good, and are able, by mutual reconciliation of conflicting interests, to arrive at an optimum policy for the nation as a whole. The Republicans never do any of these things, he says, because they represent only “one interest,” that of business.
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