The problem is that when you come down to casting a vote, you're unable to reach a compromise — to sit down and talk it through and find out where there are areas of common ground so that you can build bridges and you can fund the military and you can do the things that a government has to do," he says. "When you're making those decisions based on your party membership, based on what you have decided is going to help your club win the next election, then you're really doing a disservice to your country and you're really being dishonest to your oath of office."
Edwards cites the selection of committee chairmanships as a way to enforce partisanship rather than good governance. He says he has been in the room and watched discussions about "whether or not A or B ought to be on Ways and Means or Appropriations or the Labor Committee, and somebody will say, 'No, we are not going to put that person on that committee because' — whatever his or her constituency or personal views or expertise — 'that person is not going to stick to the party line on the issues that are part of our platform, that are part of our agenda.' "
Edwards says party primaries are a major reason why Congress consists of politicians who are committed to sticking with a particular ideology and are unwilling to compromise. The most ideological and partisan candidates tend to succeed in party primaries, Edwards says.
"We're allowing the clubs — narrow subsets of population — to dictate to the general public when they go to the polls in November about who their choices can be," he says.