The Inevitable Disaffection with Political Parties
The founders of the Republic did not envision the evolution or the potential impact of political parties on the country they were setting up, but it was only a matter of months before the two factions that, together, fabricated the Constitution, the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists, degenerated into political parties…and we have had them ever since, to our detriment.
The most glaringly obvious impact of political parties is the Electoral College process….which was created because of the difficulties involved in communicating effectively across such a large and sparsely population nation, necessitating the development of a device to record and document the decisions made by the electorate in national elections.
There is a widespread misconception that the Electoral College process had something to do with balancing political power between more densely and less densely populated states. That balancing act, however, was actually accomplished through the process of giving each state the same absolute representation in the Senate while giving them proportionate representation in the House of Representatives.
Some commenters — including both those with portfolios and those without them — have decried the obvious inequity of Senator Bernie Sanders, representing the second smallest state by population, and Senator Dianne Feinstein, representing the most populous state, having the exact same amount of authority in the nation’s decision making process. There is, however, no such inequity because of the proportionate representation in the House of Representatives, which controls the purse strings of the nation and therefore is the real seat of political power in the United States.
In actual practice, the House of Representatives is actually much more powerful than the Senate because the House proposes and the Senate almost invariably responds affirmatively or negatively to proposals that originate in the House.
The problem with political parties, in general, is that they are megalithic, top down management entities, or at least they were so until the Tea Party revolution in the Republican party upset the top-down authority structure with a bottom-up anti-authoritarian political structure.
The result of the Tea Party Revolution has been the development of a political party that truly represents the will of the governed who subscribe to the ethos represented by that party’s propaganda…and the rest of the world stands aghast at what we have found out about the rank and file of the Republican party.
The ugly truth is that the New Republican Party accurately represents the results of the party’s Southern Strategy upon which President Richard M. Nixon based his winning political strategy in 1968. Simply put, the Southern Strategy took advantage of the fact that the Democratic Party, under President Lyndon Baines Johnson, had enacted two Civil Rights bills during his five year tenure that made the Democratic party the spiritual home of Black America for two generations.
Until 1968, the Southern States, which were in fact the Confederate States of America until they lost the Civil War, were referred to as the Solid South because you couldn’t get elected as a dog catcher anywhere in the South if you ran as a Republican.
White Southerners blamed the Republican Party for the War Between The States and turned en masse to the Democratic party after Reconstruction ended. They were particularly incensed by the presidency of the Reconstructionist Republican Ulysses S. Grant, who was carrying out the verbal instructions given to him by his mentor, Abraham Lincoln, just hours before the martyred president’s assassination.
Reconstruction ushered in the age of the Carpetbaggers, who plundered the Southern States with relative impunity during 24 years of Republican rule, which ended with the lackluster presidencies of Democrat Grover Cleveland, the only president to serve two separate terms of office rather than two contiguous ones.
After 1968, the White voters in the Southern States first attempted to create their own version of the Democratic Party, the Dixiecrats, who were, in effect, the first manifestation of popular rebellion against the power of the political hierarchies. When that failed to gain traction, they pulled up stakes and moved en masse to the Republican party, where they have been camping out ever since.
So, there we have it. The Republican Party has based its success squarely on its promotion of institutionalized racism in the Old Confederacy, and in the the states populated by the post Civil War migrations from the Old Confederacy into the states that now represent the Republican Majority, basically the middle of the country with the exception of Minnesota in the North and New Mexico in the South.
Everywhere else, except for the Northeastern states, the Western states and a piece of Florida, what we are now seeing is the emergence of the New Confederacy, a Republican majority that is absolutely based upon racism and Xenophobia….but that’s the distraction.
What the Republicans have really done is to obscure the class warfare in which we are now engaged under a racial conflict that really doesn’t exist, pitting natural allies against each other.
Anyone who doesn’t recognize the Republican attacks on Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and The Affordable Care Act as attacks by one economic class on another, simply isn’t paying attention. Anyone who does not acknowledge that the Republican tax plan is a direct attack on what we once called the American Middle Class (not to mention the working classes, whatever that means now) is in full-fledged denial of the obvious facts.
Is the term class warfare too strong? That depends upon whether you believe that people are going to die — and are dying right now — because they are not able to get the medical care they need. It depends upon whether you believe that we have priced education out of the reach of the average American family.
We now have a party in power that defines MIDDLE CLASS as a family of four making up to $450,000 in a country where the median income for a family of four is now (in September of 2017) $59,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. Go one step further. In 2005, sociologists William Thompson and Joseph Hickey estimate an income range of roughly $35,000 to $75,000 for the lower middle class. Using those figure reveals that, if we accept the median figure from the Census Bureau and measure it against Thompson and Hickey’s findings, $59,000 is considered a LOWER middle class income.
There are abundant examples of Republicans — and Democrats — who are so out of touch with reality that the do not understand that the Millennials — 35 and under — with a national median income of $35,592 per year after being out of school for 14 years (according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics in March of 2017) are NEVER going to make it into the middle class.
That’s why the disaffection with political parties has become inevitable, because — with the possible and questionable exception of Bernie Sanders — none of the leaders of either party is addressing this powder keg situation with the seriousness it deserves.