POLITICS

The Parties Decide (To Implode)

The end of political parties as we know them.

25/01/2016 10:42 PM AEDT | Updated 25/01/2016 10:42 PM AEDT
The Huffington Post

Republicans and Democrats are dying brands. Evidence? They both could end up with non-members as nominees. On the eve of the first votes in the process they no longer control, here's why they're fading away.

The nation's founders hated political parties, or so they said. It took about a New York minute for the Federalists and Jeffersonians to square off, and the parties descended from them have run things ever since -- or at least until television took over when Jack Kennedy arrived. As real people have become evermore involved in the process, leaders have lost power. Now the phrase "party leader" has become a full-out oxymoron.

Establishments in both parties mistakenly thought that Big Money from the Big Boys would sustain them, as would eschewing practical new policies in favor of increasingly atavistic attacks on the other side.

It could all come down to the 'in case of emergency, break glass' option of Michael Bloomberg -- the only billionaire who wants to give up a life of leisure to run America, in the service of the gated-community voting bloc's desire to keep the riff-raff out of their politics.

The result: Real people, even those about to vote in the caucuses and primaries, don't want to be labeled Republican or Democrat. Here's a more specific account of each party's bonehead plays:

THE GOP 

RANK EVENT
1
GOP'S LEGISLATIVE SELF-HOTBOXING
They validated right-wing ideas without ever being able to enact them. The party wanted to make POTUS look like he was obstructing a great new conservative agenda, but Ted Cruz is selling voters on the idea that the party elites were ineffective.
2
REINCE PREIBUS'S PLEDGE
Fear of a Trump independent run led the RNC chair to call the most bonehead play of the season: a demand that every GOP candidate sign a loyalty pledge to the party. Priebus thought doing so would lock Trump in with the party, but all it did was lock the party in with Trump.
3
THE ELEVATION OF GRIEVANCE POLITICS
With a gaudy conservative media playing up every melodramatic note, the stage was set to enable a reality show candidate, instead of the second coming of William Buckley.
4
CONSTANT AND SLAVISH FEAR OF ALIENATING EVANGELICAL VOTERS
Which limits the party's ability to moderate and enabled Rafael Cruz as a kingmaker.
5
CHAMBER OF CONGRESS SIDES WITH TEA PARTY
The Chamber of Commerce, so eager to see GOP gains in the legislature, went all in with the Tea Party in 2010. But the Brooks Brothers couldn’t control the new Walmart crowd, which pulled the party to the right -- and pulled it apart -- and left Big Business with less (moderating) influence.
Photos: Getty, Associated Press

The Democrats

RANK EVENT
1
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ'S MICROMANAGEMENT OF THE DEBATES
The Hillary Clinton ally thought she was cleverly short-circuiting competition by allowing few debates and scheduling them at odd hours.
2
WHERE DID THE EFFORT TO MINT FUTURE DEMOCRATIC LEADERS GO?
The party whiffed on generating candidates at the state and local levels, and was left with nothing but elderly, cloistered standard-bearers. It was a big vacuum -- filled by a septuagenarian revolutionary.
3
THE PARTY THAT'S ALL OUT OF IDEAS
The Democrats waged war in multiple elections on the grounds that “GOP be cray!” Meanwhile, outside of the Oval Office, there’s been little new ideological advancement or policies. The Clinton Era, pro-business DLC consensus is out of date at a time of massive income inequality.
4
PERSONAL BRANDS RULE, PARTY IDENTITY DROOLS
This was foreseeable during Obama’s rise -- his popularity generated two successful presidential runs, but he never really cottoned to the notion that he was part of a political party. The candidate’s brand was bigger than the party’s. Obama brags about his accomplishments as president in the first person, rarely mentioning the Democrats.
5
FAILED TO RECOGNIZE THE GENIUS OF MARTIN O’MALLEY.
Obviously!
Photos: Getty, Associated Press

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