Beyond Labels

A 360° Discussion of Foreign, National and Local Policy Issues

5/15: The Debt Limit

  • What do we make of the debt limit negotiations?
    • Should debt limit increases be automatic?
      • If not, what subjects are (or are not) “fair game” for discussion?
  • Bigger picture, how should the US think about its use of debt to fund government programs?
    • Should we aim to
      • repay over time?
      • maintain a constant level relative to GDP? (At what target level?)
      • Something else?
    • How does our use of debt compare to our peers?
  • What does all of the above mean for our annual budgets?
    • To use the terms from today’s WaPo “Budget Game,” are you a
      • Diligent Deficit Hawk?
      • Big Tax and Spender?
      • Money-printing Maverick?

The future of political parties

As I recall, the topic we chose for our meeting on Monday, 8 May is the future of political parties in the US. I found some articles on the Wilson Center website by Patrick Liddiard that discuss the recent history of (primarily European) political parties, but that seem relevant to US political parties.

You can find those articles at (discussing the decline in voter identification with political parties since the 1950s and, particularly since the 1970s) and (discussing possible solutions to the decline of political parties).

Here’s another take on the subject, from the Heritage Foundation:

To me, these articles raise several questions about political parties, such as:

What purposes do political parties serve? How do they serve those purposes?

Are political parties a net benefit or a net detriment for governance in general and for democracy in particular?

Have political parties in the US declined as they have in Europe? If so, why?

Assuming the answer to the previous question is “yes”, is there a viable alternative to political parties? MLabor unions? Other civil society institutions? Mass mobilization? Would any of those alternatives contribute more to democracy and effective governance than political parties?

Again assuming political parties in the US have declined and if the available alternatives are likely to be ineffective, should we try to revive political parties? If so, how? Should we try to move away from a political system dominated by two major parties and toward a multi-party system? How would that work in the political context of the US? Or should we try to move away from political parties and partisanship? If so, how would that work?

May 1: Corporate Speech

This week, we’ll revisit the First Amendment, particularly in the context of whether it should protect “corporate speech.” We’ve talked about this before, both in this group and in a Colloquy Downeast colloquy a few years ago, but maybe we’ll find some new insights this time around.

I’ll be interested to hear whether anyone is going to argue to muzzle:

  • the New York Times (a for-profit corporation that regularly engages in political speech), or
  • Elon Musk, Donald Trump, and other wealthy individuals who have the financial wherewithal to buy a bigger “megaphone” than ordinary folks can afford.

We’ll see.

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