Partisanship and patriotism

Tue, 10 Mar 2015 Source: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina

Irmo, South Carolina

9th March, 2015

Former British Prime Minister Benjamin Disraeli once told an upstart member of his party “Damn your principles, stick to your party”.

Partisanship has its attributes in a Democracy. For one thing, it prevents alignment on ethnic grounds and helps give national character to groups contending for power. Thus, ideally, we align in a democracy on ideology and party rather than ethnicity and regionalism.

Normally, parties should have the best interest of the nation at heart and when they deviate, the electorate punishes them at the polls. The US Democratic Party supported the south and slavery and was shut out of the White House from the end of the civil war to the end of the century except for the two terms of Grover Cleveland.

On the other hand, Republicans repudiated Nixon for Watergate and led calls for him to resign and were back in power six years later, under Reagan.

Should one, as Disraeli suggests, damn principles and support one’s party at all cost?

What has been the role of party versus national loyalty in our 58 years of nationhood?

Imagine the following:

What if CPP members had refused, in the national interest, to vote for the Preventive Detention Act?

What if, Progress Party Members, in the national interest, had refused to support Apollo 568?

There are many more examples but ponder what harm partisanship has done to our nation.

Remember Nunoo-Mensah’s complaints about how partisanship distorts law enforcement?

Think of the Kumbungu killings, the Mobilla killing, Agbogbloshie and many other instances of partisan violence that have gone unpunished.

Think of the nauseating deals that have passed through Parliament on partisan basis.

Think of the divisive language that pours forth from our radio stations and our campaign platforms daily in the name of our parties and how they divide us.

Despite their obvious strengths, are our parties harming us?

There are times and issues on which we should put our nation ahead of our parties--- like Dumsor, Religious freedoms, corruption, crime and ethnic intolerance—but we do not. Government decisions are defended or attacked blindly by partisans regardless of whether it helps or hinders the people.

As Jefferson said famously in his 1801 inaugural, “We are all Republicans, we are all Federalists.”

When, in Ghanaian terms, except when the Black Stars are playing, do we think of Ghana first?

As Ipino said, “My loyalty to my party ends where my loyalty to my country begins”.

A big part of why we have underperformed as a nation is blind allegiance to our parties.

As John Kennedy once said, “Sometimes, party loyalty asks too much”. He was wrong.

TOO OFTEN, party loyalty is asking too much and our nation is paying the price, in underdevelopment, corruption, unchecked crime and divisiveness.

Let us move forward--- together.

Arthur Kobina Kennedy

Columnist: Kennedy, Arthur Kobina