In Ryan Carlin and Gregory Love’s paper ” Political Competition, Partisanship and Interpersonal Trust in Electoral Democracies”, published through Cambridge University Press, the authors explore the interplay between interpersonal trust in politics, particularly in political structures which subscribe to partisanship, and the effects on overall social good. The authors conclusion after reviewing plenty of studys provide a nuanced answer to their original research question; “how democratic institutions themselves shape co-operativesocial preferences” (Carlin et al 116).
After trust game studies in various nations, such as
Chile, Uruguay, The United States, El Salvador, Mexico, South Africa, Spain, and Portugal, the research concludes on uneasy territory; representational democracies which utilize partisanship have large trust gaps between established parties. These interpersonal trust gaps hinder the road for social progression, further allowing regressive political hostility and encouraging systemic division among politically aware citizens. From this conclusion, the authors encourage further research among the social sciences in regards to politics psychological effects on trust and cooperation.
A very clear example comes to mind when discussing democratic trust in partisanship based systems, one which is all too familar to The United States. Outlined by Christian M. Bate, America’s current situation is one created by extreme interpersonal trust and harsh demonization towards other social and political groups. Trump’s America relies on us vs. them mentalities; radically unifying the political right has created a dangerous hostility, encouraging the regression of social thought and policy, to scare people and encourage the popularity of cult leaders like Donald Trump. This paper provides a fairly obvious observation on the nature of social trust in bipartisanships, but effectively utilizes data from nations other than The United States to deliver the all too real conclusion.
Stepping away from radical competition and distrust in politics, I would instead like to talk about issues that arise when some political parties within a partisanship attempt to merge their audiences, and encourage competition in a naturally competitive political atmosphere.
Democratic parties have, in the past, attempted a cooperative strategy, one which merges two groups under a bipartisanship in the attempt to gain a wider range of votes and claim an electoral win. This may seem like a good idea, but due to issues of interpersonal trust and fierce competition, bipartisan parties end up competing on a tilted table, so to speak. Voters are less than thrilled when they have to cooperate with a competing political party, even when the other party stands on the same side of the political scale. This may cause some voters to leave the group altogether in search of a party willing to fight tooth and nail to represent their views on a national level. This also proves difficult when other parties within the same system are willing to use interpersonal trust to their political advantage, effectively proving the bipartisanship a null and void solution to a inherently competitive political system.
Political competition still requires a momentous amount of research in order to understand ways to soothe brutal competition and interpersonal distrust, but Carlin et al provide a useful and thorough starting point to the issue. If representative based politics was originally concieved to further social good and increase national unity, than this is an incredibly useful and important discussion to study further in academic discourse.
Political Cartoon Credit: https://theweek.com/cartoons/751858/political-cartoon-trump-state-union-partisanship