Light posting due to a do-nothing weekend, but I liked this defence of political partisanship by Nancy Rosenblum at Cato Unbound.
Though the book on which it is based on sitting in my daunting pile of unread books, Rosenblum has more than any other political theorist I am aware of been a defender of voluntary assocations, finding what good they do (if only for their members), rather than finding them wanting against an abstract standard, as tends to be the case in the work of others. In a much less comprehensive way, I try to do something similar in my criticisms of anti-discrimination law and arguments against political expenditure laws.
Australia’s party identification figures (largish pdf) are fairly resilient, and this is broadly healthy for our political system which relies on there being an alternative government. The problem is that partisanship rarely converts to party membership, which means both major parties are suffering from shrinking and ageing memberships, narrowing the pool of candidates and affecting campaigning capacity.
The Victorian Liberal Party is experimenting with pre-selection primaries, an idea I converted to last year. I’m not sure how successful it will be in attracting Liberal partisans into the party, but given the dismal alternative of slow but steady decline it is worth a try.