My main and essentially only interest in politics is arguing for a new political party to replace one or both of the Democratic and Republican parties. In my opinion, something better is possible but it is unlikely to come from either party.
The nature of the two political parties is human nature: Who has real power and influence in the Democratic and Republican parties? Outsiders and newcomers? Life-long insiders, hard core partisan ideologues and major campaign contributors? Neutral and objective analysts? People like you? Common sense argues the real influence is with the money and life-long, partisan insiders. The money probably carries the most weight just ahead of (or tied with) the politician’s penchant to put re-election above the public interest. Why shouldn’t outsiders or newcomers with no money but a good idea get a fair hearing? There are at least three good reasons:
- First, ordinary outsiders don’t have money. Like it or not, American politics is mostly pay to play, i.e., no pay, no play. The money, “extracting rent” from interest groups, is just the cost of doing business with political power. There can be a great return on investment.
- Newcomers are not life-long insider activists. People tend to trust and work with people they know. That’s human nature.
- Outsiders with a truly good idea will, more often than not, suggest something that goes against the grain of the prevailing political and/or religious ideology. The idea simply gets rejected. That’s human nature too.
The broken contract: Remember Newt’s 1994 “Contract with America“? It went OK until it hit up against the part that said lobbyist influence should be somehow reigned in. It was a great idea. But, once that agenda item came up, the “contract” was crushed. It died and went away. Special interests with money didn’t like it. The concept of reigning in special interest money morphed into the corrupt K street project and nothing much has changed since. In politics, money talks and most everything else, except re-election, walks. Buying votes explains the money, nothing else. Despite the rhetorical blasts coming from both parties these days, neither even mentions the money and the “access”, i.e., votes, it buys.
Softer power: Life-long insider activists have a different power. They are hard core ideologues and have often spent years toiling for the cause they usually honestly believe in. They know they are right. Why should the parties listen to much of anything from an outsider who goes against the grain? In the Republican party ideology is king. RINOs are hunted down and shot. The Democrats may even be considering something like that for DINOs. Well, if RINOs and maybe DINOs are being purged, why expect an outsider to have any influence? What does your common sense say?
Homeless pragmatists and moderates: So, where do pragmatists and moderates go to get a fair hearing? Nowhere. No major third party is free of blinding ideology either. Ideology and pragmatism are not compatible for the most part. That may be why pragmatists and moderates slosh back and forth between the Republican and Democratic parties. Until pragmatists and moderates understand that the two big parties and the third parties do not share their views, their viewpoints will be largely ignored. Pragmatists and moderates will remain fourth class citizens behind special interest money, political self-interest and partisan insiders.