Candidates should appear on the ballot if:

Sunday, May 11, 2008

Political Party Models. Toys before the Revolution

From the Website of George Phillies, candidate for the Libertarian Party presidential nomination, 2008.

Posted on Thu Mar 27, 2008 at 10:13 PM EST
Local Organization -- The Path to Libertarian Victory

"I begin with the most fundamental issue

The Purpose of a Political Party is

* to Advance Its Agenda,
* to Run Candidates and Win Elections, and
* to Use Electoral Victory to Put Its Program into Effect.

Our objective is to create a Libertarian Party that achieves its purpose in our lifetimes. Our objective is to use democratic practices to put into practice our political agenda, the agenda of freedom, small government, low taxes, and the entire Bill of Rights. Our objective is to elect Libertarians who will put Libertarian policies into effect everywhere. Our objective is Libertarian control of town halls, statehouses, the Federal Congress, and executive branches across the Republic. Our objective is political victory."


I have selected the item not because it is anomalous. On the contrary, it's representative of a typical model for a political party in the United States. It is a model based upon certain assumptions about the legal context in which a political party is permitted to function. These assumptions are wrong.

Consider objective one: to Advance Its Agenda.

This seems almost self-evident or tautological. Advancing an agenda has many possible modes. The modes for "advancing" depend on the message crafted in the "agenda".

The modes for advancing the agenda are also dependent upon the social constraints which are accepted that limit communication. These constraints range from social and cultural mores to legalized and coercively enforced constraints.

Here my discussion will focus on the coercively enforced constraints.

The first restraint is economic in various forms for licensing and rationing communication. Campaign financing regulation and financial quotas serve to suppress competition by creating a political cartel structure. The communication of certain agendas is burdened by imposing opportunity costs through bureaucratic make work and worry work - forms, labor intensive "expertise", etc. The present scheme of censorship by campaign finance regulation was imposed in the last quarter of the 20th Century. It has functioned adequately to support a two-party political cartel by suppressing competition from 'new' parties.

In the 21st Century no new party or any party in existence since 1974 has demonstrated that it can overcome the campaign finance cartel and survive for more than two election cycles - except by staying below the threshold of electoral significance. In short, only 'Mom and Pop' political parties can exist under this regime because they cannot compete with the cartel.

Campaign finance censorship alone assures that the second objective: to Run Candidates and Win Elections, is so remote as to be 'academic'. Elections can be won, but only local elections that don't threaten cartel power. No state-wide or U.S. Congressional office can be won by a 'new' party - by a personality, yes, but not by a real party candidate.

This means that the intention defined in Objective One cannot be executed by means of Objective Two. The effective blocking of both these two objectives makes Objective Three illusory. The road block of campaign finance cannot be overcome without payment of an enormous tariff to begin effective communication. Such a tariff can be overcome only by billionaires - clients of the cartel itself.

Behind the campaign finance barriers are those electoral processes which have embedded in law since the 1890's.

These legalized barriers are mainly an intricately woven complex of election laws regarding candidate access to the ballot, voter registration censorship and suppression, gerrymandering, etc., and, as necessary, election fraud and false counting of ballots. The attempts to mandate a monopoly of electronic, pre-riggable voting machines is a further example of cartel distrust of a new party gaining favor with the voters.

More deeply embedded are the disregard of Constitutional safeguards against "factions" entrenching themselves in power. The prime example of this is the century long refusal of the cartel parties to enlarge the size of the U.S. House of Representatives so that a reasonable ratio of representation to the population is maintained. The size of the House of Representatives was frozen by law, not by constitutional provision, in the first two decades of the 20th Century by an accord between the Democratic and Republican parties to essentially "split the electorate" between them and reduce the opportunities for new party candidates to emerge and gain a balance of power between the two cartel parties.

This inter-party accord also skewed the Electoral College vote to further impede new party candidates for the Presidency. The Electoral College winner-take-all bias in favor of either of the cartel parties cannot be overcome - even if the states were to allow voters to have their Electoral College vote tallied and allocated by congressional district. The districts are too populous and too few.

There is much more to this, but suffice to say that most new parties while aware of elements of their legalized torture, typically focus on only one or two aspects and tout silver-bullet reforms which they can never hope to implement because they will never get elected to implement them. Furthermore, the new parties tend to couch their appeals to how the system is unfair to their parties. They seldom attempt to show the people how the system is unfair to the people generally.

No new party has formulated a comprehensive analysis and focused on electoral reform as central to the best interests of the American people. As a consequence, many new parties continue to fight among and within themselves over techniques and tactics and public relations and images. This suits the cartel parties just fine and when such superficialities recede into the background in a new party, new exploiters of the superficial can be encouraged to rev-up the same old zero-sum game whose message is: WE must being doing something wrong! The system ain't the real it? Well, is it?

Sadly, it is the electoral system. New parties can't win by the cartel rules unless and until they take their case directly to the people - both as 'candidates', even if their candidacies are deemed 'illegal', and, by non-election activities. The people of the United States already know their votes seldom do more than defer what the cartel wants. If the cartel wants war, the people will suffer. If the cartel wants monetary disaster, the people will suffer. The voters can complain enough to make the cartel alter its PR, but the people already know they really have no alternatives, but they do wish that they did.

New political parties really have lost over the last quarter-century by default. It's the election, stupid! It's RIGGED! If you won't tell the people the 'how and why' and show them solutions, then you will keep on losing and continue to serve as the 'Mom and Pop' example of how democracy still flourishes in the United States. The reason the people don't vote for new parties is because they can't! A new parties are tolerated as tokens by the cartel parties.

In time, events may get out of the cartel's control and they will experience "instability." At that time, the people will look first to a new party with an agenda that explains how they got screwed at the polling place for so long and how it can prevented in the future. If they can find such a party. If the people cannot find a channel of leadership in such a party, they will seek leaders a charismatic revolutionary selling them redemption by blood and fire.

In which case, the new parties will share some of the responsibility which the cartel alone should bear.

Happy Mother's Day, may she forgive you.

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