The representative model is now defunct, destroyed in somewhat different ways by the two political parties. We will start with the inappropriately named Democrats.
The Democratic party of today is not a representative party, but a top-down political machine organized around a reformulation of traditional socialist ideology. They are not a party of the popular will, but a party of a particular set of ideas. The people who adapt these ideas to current needs are not the Democratic base, but a small group of intellectuals drawn almost exclusively from a handful of elite universities. Trusting the public will is a laughable proposition for academics, who consider themselves a superior breed -- like the philosopher kings of Plato’s Republic. They may adapt their rhetoric as required for the sake of harvesting votes from the lowly herd, but the core concept of public sovereignty was dropped from leftist thought long ago -- about the time it passed from the hard hands of embittered revolutionaries into the soft hands of tenured professors. At a practical rather than an ideal level, socialism has never been particularly democratic. The socialist state has always been the instrument of one or another narrow group of planners, not answerable to the public’s will.
Moreover, the actual Democratic Party of today is actually a degenerate socialist party, often mixing crony capitalist practice uncomfortably with socialist rhetoric. Obama’s speeches, and perhaps his self image, aren’t all that different from Fidel Castro’s -- but he does have a far wealthier circle of friends. While incompatible ideologically, socialism and crony capitalism do share in common the centralization of real power -- so perhaps they are not all that different in actual practice. Neither bodes well for what little political sovereignty you and I still have.
The Republican Party, as embodied in its establishment core -- people like Karl Rove and Reince Priebus -- is a different sort of animal from its dingy, pseudo-leftist counterpart, but not really a more attractive or more encouraging one. It has become painfully obvious in the last few election cycles that the Republican establishment despises its conservative base. Most of us have grown tired of watching the GOP bluster and promise to stop ObamaCare, executive amnesty, etc. – only to fold for no apparent reason after a few weeks or months, vowing “this isn’t over!” once again. The truth is that it was over before it started. At the risk of being called racist, the Republican Party seems to function more or less as the nameless team that plays against the Harlem Globetrotters. They provide the illusion of a contest to events that have been carefully choreographed in advance. Their current strategy, assuming for the sake of argument that they are even interested in electoral success, appears to be to trade their traditional base for those lost souls in the political center -- those people who only engaged in politics by tottering into a voting booth once every four years. Perhaps such chronically distracted souls will be charmed by uncle Jeb’s endearing smile -- but that hardly seems to capture the notion of a government of, by, and for the people. New Republican voters ought to take note of how dismissive the party has been toward the old ones. Most Republican politicians, in short, have come to represent no one but themselves.
Labels: Democrats, Republicans