Are our political parties still relevant?

download (51)The mainstream media is full of stories about how broke the state Democrat Party is.  Word is out that they may have to sell their headquarters building just to make ends meet.  Sources tell me that Robin Hayes left the NCGOP coffers in pretty rough shape when he handed over the keys to Claude Pope.

Governor Pat McCrory has Renew North Carolina.  Most all of our congressional representatives have leadership PACs in place.

In the Senate race, there are at least six different entities — independent of the state or national Democrat parties — raising money for Kay Hagan.  On the GOP side, there are at least three Super PACs out there putting together big money for Thom Tillis.  FreedomWorks is partnering with Republican candidate Greg Brannon on fundraising and other logistical matters.

The late senator Jesse Helms had his North Carolina Congressional Club, which handled fundraising,  and other campaign logistics for him while he was in office.  The group also succeeded in getting a US senator (John East) and a congressman (Bill Cobey) elected.

The Washington Post’s Chris Cilliza believes that independent Super PACs and other similar organizations are supplanting the traditional party organizations at election time.

You don’t exactly see people falling all over themselves to become party chairmen and vice-chairmen.  I know — here in Moore County — that the local GOP organization’s leaders are not exactly the power brokers and movers-and-shakers you’d think they might be in this diehard GOP jurisdiction.  Prominent pols from DC and Raleigh regularly come to town for fundraisers hosted by people independent of the local party organization.

Some people point to the Supreme Court’s Citizens United decision as the key event leading to this shakeup.  Barry Obama and many others on the left decried that move by the court.  I am in the opposite camp.  Before that decision, labor unions and other political machines had free reign, while grassroots activists and the business community had their hands tied.

Citizens United leveled the playing field. Grassroots activists upset with local political bosses now have legal standing and leverage to stand up and make their voices be heard.  With the rise of these independent groups, we’ve seen a move away from the R or D choice at  election time to more numerous, diverse options such as free market vs. statism, pro-abortion vs. anti-abortion, environmentalism vs. responsible growth and development, or  pro-military vs. anti-war. Many times, these debates occur between individuals and groups within the same political party. 

7 thoughts on “Are our political parties still relevant?

  1. Yes, the parties ARE dying, for precisely the reasons you cite. Quite frankly, I think they’d be dead already if ballot access laws weren’t written specifically to guarantee Republicans and Democrats access to the ballot, while restricting it for other parties.

  2. The partys are only storefronts to laundry money through to the ruling class, in turn they give it to their friends, “business leaders” in the form of incentives and other manipulation of legislative system to get what they want, this is a technically legal way to steal from the public. In turn the money flows back to the politician from the “business leader”, a return on investment or ROI as it were to get what they want, and the big money wheel in the sky keeps on turning. There is no opposition party any longer that’s why the Republican and Democrat criminals and establishment ruling class fight the disruption of their scam from the Tea Party. Remember Tillis has a business relationship with Thime Warner Cable and they’ll be producing the scam of a debate in Davidson in April. So Tillis’s business partners in THime Warner Cable will be controlling the debate for their buddy THilli$ and controlling the cameras.

    1. I agree. The parties represent the consolidation of power. I’d love to see the parties go away. Imagine the candidates actually having to stand on their own, craft their own message, or defend their record.

  3. I am not sure why anyone would donate to a political party these days. They have a tendency to lose money. For instance, around October/November of 2012, the RNC’s federal finance report showed that they gave the NCGOP something close to 6 million dollars. But the NCGOP has never accounted for that money in any budget report that they’ve shown to their ex comm (no report of the fact that they received it or whether it has or has not been spent). Where did the money go?

    Also the party members have no input in how the money is spent. The last couple of times I’ve seen the NCGOP go to the executive committee for budget approval, they have a bunch of vague line items that nobody even knows what they are by their description, and the budget is passed exactly as it is proposed by the party accountant – with no changes whatsoever! That combined with the fact that the NCGOP doesn’t advocate any of the issues that the party members adopt resolutions over… by these 2 factors it is clear that the party members, even the executive committee members, have no say in how the money is spent. Zero. That is a FACT. Don’t donate to the parties. Just say no.

    1. OR…if you trust your County Party or even precinct Party, donate to them. The more local, the more control. True, some Party chairs are establishment drones but many of them just want to make a difference in their counties, need donations to execute, and are willing to bend over backwards to provide transparency and accountability to donors.And if everyone adopted this bottom-up approach, the State Party would have to come hat in hand to the Counties for support and we might actually be able to hold the State Party accountable.

  4. Political parties are of extreme importance to low information voters who are looking for the D beside the name rather than the name itself.

    The Democrats have numerous special interest groups who vote for the Democrat candidate. Think of Reverend Barber and his group of special interests. They will vote Democratic every time.

    I doubt the Democrats will allow the low information voter too many choices on the ballot. They will maintain the D designation so that their special interest groups know what to do. It is pretty easy to remember just one letter of the alphabet.

  5. Another factor that is important in addition to those you mention is the impact of the McCain-Feingold law (BICRA), sometimes known as the anti-grassroots politics bill. It effectively shut county political parties out of federal races. FEC reports are complex and daunting and not something most county level parties want to tackle. Before McCain-Feingold, there was a treshhold that party organizations could spend on federal races before they had to report ($1,000 if memory serves) which allowed most county parties to involve themselves in federal races with no problem. McCain-Feingold lowered that to $,01, which cuts county parties out of many activities in federal races. It also did other stupid things like require using a federal account plus a weird hybrid account (which no local party even has) to say ”Vote Republican” or ”Vote Democrat” in their ads. Yes, there are local parties every election which unknowing violate that part, and they are committing a federal felony when they do, but fortunately I have never heard of that being reported to the FEC in North Carolina. McCain-Feingold was one of the worst things to ever happen to grassroots party politics.

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