In this thread, one objection raised to a (partial, limited) change to a proportional-representation electoral system for the Ontario Parliament is that the voters (WRT the small number of added seats) would no longer be voting for individual candidates, but for political parties. That is no objection.
In the U.S., we have gone perhaps further than any other country to a candidate-centered model, where the individual politician is in effect an entrepeneur, almost solely responsible for getting his/her name out there and raising his/her own funds, and, once in office, under no particular obligation to follow his/her party’s policy line. “D” and “R” are just brand-name labels, and it is possible for the Republican in a given race to be more liberal than the Democrat. The results are highly unsatisfactory.
One value of parties is that, in a well-developed party system, it is always clear what set of beliefs, values and policies a given party stands for – and that is really what most voters should want to vote for (or against). A candidate’s politics, after all, are really much more important, in terms of results, than his/her individual “character”; better to be well governed by sinners than misgoverned by saints.
A party organization can also potentially be the principal campaign funder; it’s much better situated to raise funds – and that also makes it much easier to keep the funding process open and transparent.
Certainly geographically based representation has some value – nobody really wants to give up pork-barrel – but there are forms of PR, e.g., the multi-member-district system (as distinct from the party-list system) which still retain a form of that. But in a well-constructed MMD system, you would get on (the top of) your party’s slate of proposed candidates for the district’s representative delegation because your party leadership had placed you there. That’s how it should be.