Post Title: Do the Political Parties Actually Represent Their Rank and File?
Post Date: March 2, 2016
I am amazed at how desperately the Republican party is trying to repress its leading candidate. It’s not that I am a registered Republican. I’m not. Nor am I a registered Democrat. But lately, I’ve been questioning my belief in the two-party system, wondering whether the political parties actually repress their constituencies rather than truly represent them.
Keep in mind that our constitutional founders opposed political parties, naively believing that Congress would be a place for the free exchange of ideas, leading to agreement. The Founding Fathers sought agreement through consensus, while the political parties want to win and prevail over the other political party.
Sadly, a voter’s view on the issues of the day doesn’t really matter in the end, as the candidate she or he votes for must obey the party leadership in voting on issues. The voter naturally wants to see his or her view prevail, or at least be represented, and perhaps that underlies the revolt against the Republican party as seen in the support for candidate Trump.
Some would say that America is (and should be) ruled by its “uniformly educated class.” This view is confirmed by the Republican establishment’s criticism that Trump is mostly attracting the uneducated, as if the uneducated shouldn’t be allowed to vote. This vitriolic criticism of Trump shows that the establishment is afraid that it will lose power if Trump wins the nomination. And it should be, for the vote for Trump is basically a vote against the establishment and the establishment’s candidates.
The establishment even quotes the Founding Fathers’ mistrust of democracy — the need to curb “excessive” democracy — in support of its opposition to Trump. Keep in mind that the Founding Fathers were the elite of the day. There was much talk in the Constitutional Convention of the masses being dupes of pretended patriots, and of their being misled by false reports from designing men. The very same rhetoric is now leveled against the candidate of the rank-and-file, namely Trump. The elite are effectively saying that only they can be true patriots, be non-designing, and refrain from issuing false reports. It is little wonder why the rank-and-file will no longer put up with this, now that they have a leader. Trump speaks for them, so they gladly overlook it when he sometimes goes overboard.
True, the Founding Fathers’ decision to split the balance of power between two houses, a president, and a Supreme Court did serve us well. But once the political parties started to dominate everything — attempting to control both houses, the presidency, and the Supreme Court (the court through the appointment process and the required consent of the Senate), our government literally became dysfunctional. It’s been dysfunctional ever since. What’s changing is that the rank-and-file of both parties are beginning to recognize and react to this.
The Republican establishment calls Trump a demagogue and goes back to the Greek definition: a political leader appealing to popular desires and the prejudices of the masses. But what is really wrong about that? Equating the masses with the rank-and-file of the party leads me to think that taking their desires and prejudices into account is not only proper, but required under our Constitution.
As it happens, the Democratic party is even clearer in showing it wants to control its rank-and-file Democrats. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) can rightfully be equated to the Democratic establishment, and the DNC has imposed a rule that allows it to overturn the rank-and-file vote for a particular Democrat candidate. It gave itself the right to appoint a sufficient number of “superdelegates” to its national convention that are beholden to vote as the DNC wants. If the candidate chosen by the rank-and-file is acceptable to the DNC, the superdelegates are not instructed to vote for any particular candidate. If the rank-and-file candidate is not acceptable to the DNC, the superdelegates are instructed to vote for a specific candidate, who will have enough votes with the superdelegate votes to get the Democrat nomination.
Whether the DNC actually exercises its self-granted power to select the candidate is beside the point. The point here is that the establishments, Democrat or Republican, are just in the game to perpetuate themselves in a very undemocratic way.
There is no place in America for any of this. [Post edited for length]
Title: Insights on the News | Author: Walter Lamp | From: San Diego | Blogging since: January 2016