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.