Political Parties or Private Clubs?

In the latest news, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee is preparing a blacklist of all political consulting organizations that work for, or otherwise support, challengers to incumbent Democratic House and Senate members. In other words, if you work for a progressive who is challenging an old guard Democrat, you just made the blacklist. Now just how democratic is that? I suspect the Republican Party has some similar behavior in that they actively discourage challengers to incumbent Republicans, the idea being that incumbents have better chances of winning, so don’t take chances with newbies because you might cost us the majority in Congress. This is just one example of the “clubiness” of the political parties.

Note that it’s always a few party insiders who make policy decisions like that1. No one asked the rank and file if that was a good policy. Political parties resemble coconuts with a small nut in the center and a large husk surrounding it. Those in the center are the real members and those in the husk are everyone else who call themselves Democrats or Republicans. For all practical purposes, the major political parties are like private clubs that can pick and choose their “members” at the whim of their leaders. If you are “in”, you are “in”. If not, you are “out”. And only a few are really “in”. The leaders pretend to care about everyone in order to get money and votes, but in reality, the parties exist exclusively for their members.

Don’t be fooled by “applications for membership” or requests for “membership renewal” or other solicitations for money that claim you are or will become a party member. And don’t be fooled by the survey forms that ask for your opinion on important issues but are really nothing more than begging for money. All of that is pure bullshit. Neither you nor I will ever be members, no matter how much we contribute. As for the surveys, there may be a real person who reads them and does something with the data, but don’t think for a minute that the surveys have any significant influence on party policies. (Actually, I suspect they only deposit the money and throw away the surveys.)

To call yourself a Democrat or a Republican, you are only fooling yourself. The only real Democrats and Republicans are the party insiders. Everyone else who call themselves Democrats or Republicans are just suckers who drink the party kool-aid, donate money and vote the party ticket.

Bear in mind that there is no mention of political parties in the U.S. Constitution and that George Washington spurned political parties claiming they were divisive and destructive to the moral fabric of the nation. Washington was absolutely right. The political parties have indeed divided the nation even more so today than ever before. And for whose benefit? The only real beneficiaries are the winning politicians and their patrons (those with sufficient money who can purchase the favors of the politicians and ensure that only policies that benefit themselves are enacted). The political parties, both Democratic and Republicans make losers out of all the rest of us.2

Both major political parties are participating in a charade that pits one half of the population against the other and which provides a smoke screen that keeps from view the declining middle class, deteriorating infrastructure, deteriorating education system, environmental collapse, skyrocketing costs of healthcare, education and home ownership, the rapid increase in homelessness and the worst national health statistics of all the developed nations. Regardless what they advertise, the two major political parties are not working for the average American. They are little more than private clubs for the privileged few.

We have watched this process for as long as we have been a nation and it has never changed except to get worse. So long as we allow the political parties to dominate the political discussion, we can expect no change. It is the major cause of disenchantment which keeps the vast majority of voters away from the polls in most elections3 and which allows a small minority to control our government.

Will Americans do anything about it? I won’t hold my breath.


1In general, all major policies espoused by the parties are decided upon by a few insiders.

2Witness the tax cuts passed by Republicans when in power, but never repealed by Democrats when in power. Witness the Democrats support of a bloated military which, together with the tax cuts, robs them of any chance of enacting any progressive domestic programs they claim to support. (Republicans don’t even bother to make such claims.) Finally, witness the staunch opposition both parties have to any real and meaningful political reform.

3A majority of eligible voters vote only in presidential elections. In all other elections (of which there are two every year here in Virginia), the majority of voters stay at home. In some elections no more than 25% of the voters turn out to vote.