We need to figure out what parties are supposed to be

This article really, indirectly, highlights a fundamental disagreement about the role of parties in US politics.

The side the article is on sees the parties as these independent groups that back people running for office. Which is descriptively true. That’s what they are. Private clubs that try to get people into political offices.

The other side sees them more for their functional role in the current US political games: de facto filters for candidacy. In most elections, the options that are almost guaranteed to win are put forth by the Democratic and Republican parties. The two parties aren’t just functioning as clubs that put forth candidates, but rather acting as a method for determining the two candidates on the ballot. For elections with primaries, they are round one, and the election itself is round two.

Of course, given they serve this purpose, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect or demand they act fairly in light of it. If we want free and fair elections, then we can’t have de facto gatekeepers. If everyone who wants to run has to go through the approval of one of these two private clubs, then these two private clubs control the elections.

The Sanders supporters upset by the unfair treatment by the DP are generally told that the DP was well within their right to throw Sanders under the bus because Clinton had done more for the party. Sure, in a legal sense, that’s true, and if they really are just clubs that support their favorite people, that’s true. But as it stands, there were three options:

A) Run as a Democrat.
B) Run as a Republican.
C) Don’t run.

Now, unless we’re saying we don’t want free and fair democratic elections, this is a terrible trichotomy to have unless the disjunction of A or B is an option for anyone intending to run.

There are, it appears to me, two options to fix this:

1) Destroy the party system.
2) Make the parties public and equal-access.

Given option 1) would likely just lead to replacements running under the radar, 2) seems like the far more practical option. Given we don’t make any more radical changes to the system, not acknowledging the two-party state is silly. If we’re going to have two parties running the state, best to not have them de jure private interests.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s