Party Influence

There is growing concern among some, particularly among the elites and party elders, that our political parties are losing too much power and authority over candidate selection.

[The ascents of Progressive-Democratic Party Presidential candidate and Senator Bernie Sanders (I, VT) and President Donald Trump (R)] are the latest sign that the nation’s political parties have lost influence in choosing their own presidential nominees….

Tom Rath, ex-Republican National Committee delegate, worried about this:

We’re organized around individual candidates and individual concerns. No one wants to be bothered with the party.

Joe Trippi, ex-Progressive-Democrat strategist and current CNN pundit, also expressed angst:

The parties are powerless right now and have been for a while. With both parties it’s personality- and candidate-driven, not party-driven.

And this:

Several current and former members of the Democratic National Committee said a party that once elevated Governors Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton to the White House should have found a way to place governors, who have proven electoral records, on the debate stage more often.

Because Party Know Betters should determine voter choices, not the voters. (I’ll elide questions about why a party that once elevated Senators to the White House switched to governors. I’ll also leave aside the Know Betters’ wisdom in choosing Carter.)

And this, from Elaine Kamarck, herself a long-time Democratic National Committee Know Better (as paraphrased by the WSJ):

DNC Chairman Tom Perez should have acted “by decree” to give more visibility to elected leaders such as Mr Bullock or former Governor John Hickenlooper of Colorado…. At the same time…Mr Perez had little choice but to adopt neutral qualifying criteria, because “party leaders are no longer expected to have a role in choosing the nominee.”

Wow. Just—wow. The party that claims to be all about democracy and “what people want” should act from diktat.

We can debate the wisdom of personality-driven. However, it’s clear that in order to be personality-driven, or candidate-driven, the process also has to be voter-driven. The nominees, after all, are ours, not the parties’.

And that’s all to the good. Our Constitution, after all, opens with We the People, not Our Parties.

The noise of freedom is growing louder and democracy is growing stronger for it—especially republican democracy.

Somewhat of an aside:

Self-described democratic socialist Senator Bernie Sanders and President Trump rose in politics by developing strong personal brands, while keeping only tenuous ties to—and frequently criticizing the leaders of—the parties they later sought to lead.

I’m not sure of the inconsistency here. What would we expect them to do—say, “These guys are doing a terrific job. Put me in charge instead.”

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