The Role of Political Scientists in Political Parties

Do political scientists really have any role to play in political parties? That is an interesting question I came across in a political science forum recently. People were giving all manner of opinions on the matter, mostly based on how they view political scientists (who, like other social scientists, are usually a controversial lot). The whole discussion nonetheless got me thinking on whether political scientists have any role to play in political parties.

My views on this question are informed — and biased — by one fact. That is the fact that I have a high opinion of social scientists, who I view as people who could solve most of the problems in the society (if only people would start taking them more seriously). Based on that understanding, then, it is my view that political scientists do indeed have a key role to play in political parties. And many of the problems that political parties face would be solved (or avoided altogether), if only they involved political scientists: either as consultants or as officials.

You have to understand that as far as matters political go, political scientists are the ‘go-to’ professionals. They are the people who have the relevant training in this area, and the views they are likely to give on various matters are bound to be views based on scientific study, rather than guesswork. So just as you would be inclined to consult a financial advisor (for a review) before applying for a credit card, so does it make sense to consult a political scientist before coming up with a new political strategy. It is really very similar to the way you would find it necessary to consult a medical expert/physician before starting a new diet or contraceptive… Now just as we respect those other experts’ opinions (and are ready to pay hefty sums of money for them), so should we respect political scientists’ views, especially in matters to do with political strategy.

Political scientists can tell you whether the political strategy you are coming up with is sound, and what the best way to implement the strategy is. Political scientists, who have a good understanding of voters’ psychologies, can also help in drafting political communication strategies, which the success of political parties depends a great deal on. So you find that many of the mistakes that people make in the management of political parties are on account of having failed to get views from political scientists.