Saturday, April 16, 2016
Political parties are private organizations. Who knew?
This is the first election in my memory when it became clear that political parties, the organizations that nominate our political leaders and produce our congressmen, senators and presidents are private clubs. And while you may call yourself a member and even pay dues, the leadership and direction belongs to the inner circle who can do just about anything they want even if the nominal members disagree. Because that’s what private clubs do.
And while some branches of this club are quasi-democratic, allowing people who are not dues paying members to have a say, others are not, as the Colorado Republican party recently demonstrated.
Others have reminded us in no uncertain terms that the party chooses the nominee, not the voters.
That comes as a rude awakening to many people who thought that the parties were more democratic than that.
Of course this has always been the case. Political parties started out as unincorporated groups of people who had political or ideological goals. And for several hundred years the power of government over our lives, the amount we paid in taxes and the rules they imposed on us left us mostly free except in wartime. So the people who ran the government left us mostly alone. But now government dominates our lives, for many people taxes now take more of our income than food, shelter and clothing.
Government designs our toilet bowls, our light bulbs, the amount of salt we’re allowed to eat, the kind of insurance we can buy, who we can expect to see walking into our bathrooms, the design of our cars and the size of our electric bill. It tells us if we can drain our swamp and forces us to take our shoes off before we board the next plane. It reads our mail and demands that we believe that we’re responsible for the earth’s climate or go to prison. NASA which once launched rockets to the moon now cruises Facebook to denounce the global warming unbelievers.
Government schools teach our kids that the Founders were not brave fighters for independence but racist slave-driver patriarchs who forced their women to toil in the kitchen, barefoot and pregnant. The government teaches our kids that men andwomen are not really men or women since gender is a matter of self identification. These institutions no longer produce scholars but little Maoists ever ready to use violence to asset their will. And if you dare chalk your dissent on the sidewalk they will hunt you down and punish you.
So now the people who run the government have gradually become much more important. And it follows that allowing private clubs to make up the rules about who gets to run for office has become outdated. We are now realizing that the gate-keepers in the private political parties are as big a danger to a free people as the ayatollahs in Tehran who decide who can run for office there.
It's now clear that the leaders of the club find that belonging to the leadership is more importation than the purposes for which the club was originally founded. The club's a big business and pays really well. Which means that people with money who want to influence government policy for their own ends can now determine who ends up in the electoral pipeline.
No matter what the Democrats do with their club, Republicans should resolve to correct this problem. Electing someone who opposes the current system is a good start.