On 22 DEC 2011, USA Today's Richard Wolf took a look at the demographics of people leaving both political parties.
WASHINGTON – More than 2.5 million voters have left the Democratic and Republican parties since the 2008 elections, while the number of independent voters continues to grow.
A USA TODAY analysis of state voter registration statistics shows registered Democrats declined in 25 of the 28 states that register voters by party. Republicans dipped in 21 states, while independents increased in 18 states.
The trend is acute in states that are key to next year's presidential race. In the eight swing states that register voters by party, Democrats' registration is down by 800,000 and Republicans' by 350,000. Independents have gained 325,000.
First off, when people are fleeing both parties it can be said that they are not fleeing the parties but the two party system. This vaunted concept touted for so long in the United States that a two party system will always find the best means to represent the population (and stifle third parties by undercutting them) is something that should gain allegiance, not lose it, if it worked. A strong political system is one that individuals see as something they should invest time and energy with participation and understanding of issues local and national so as to be informed to get representation in government. Yet just the opposite is happening.
I will repost my commentary from Hot Air on the topic with all the caveats of not doing any spell checking, syntax checking, etc. I will, however, boldface a few key points:
If the two party system is such a hot thing, then why are people fleeing it?
At the lowest level, which is the precinct level, both parties have had problems getting any organization together due to lack of party members. Some precincts are no-shows in State party organizations, others are hollow core precincts with just enough members to get a representative and still others have enough members but not enough interested members to actually care about the lowest level of retail politics. This is how the Tea Party got so quickly into the Republican apparatus: if there had been more members at the precinct level, then the establishment could have held back State level changes. Instead a few States have slowly ousted the old Republican party elites (FL comes to mind, but NH, OH, NV and other State level organizations are also changing over).
This will not stem the tide, however, as the two party system isn’t delivering the necessary governance and meaningful interaction at the lowest level of the parties. Instead both parties have concentrated for decades at the highest level (federal offices) and began to use the State level as just a training area, not as a place to learn effective governance. By shifting more power into fewer hands over decades, the two parties are killing off their roots: people fleeing isn’t a cause of the problem, it is a symptom.
What this means is that the two major parties will become less stable as the number of viable precincts decline. At some point the elites will seek to agglomerate precincts to try and keep any viable structure going, but that will only make the problem worse, not better.
Representative democracy to run a republic requires participation by citizens who are knowledgeable about the issues of the day and willing to make informed choices not at the federal level, but the local level. By putting so much interference of the local level from the federal level via regulations, the two parties (each in the belief that they are addressing ‘national problems’) are destroying the representative democracy required to run a republic. Without strong local say in local affairs, citizens are becoming fed up with the two parties that are now causing the problems at the local level through cronyism, earmarks, favoritism and utilizing non-democratic means (ie. the bureaucracy) to impose power from the top down at the local level.
This system does not work and the rise of the independent charts the course of how badly the two parties are doing. So does turn-out for non-Presidential elections but even the Presidential elections are now suffering: Barack Obama got 52% of the vote, yes, but the voter participation rate hovers at 50%, making a plurality of those who can vote (and a tiny plurality) the deciders in the election. That means that Obama got about 26% of the voting age population to vote for him. How bad is that? Consider the NSDAP in Germany having over 80% turnout and getting about 40% of the vote, meaning it gets in with over 30% of the voting age population voting for it in MULTIPARTY ELECTIONS. That is how woebegone this lovely two party system is: it can’t generate up a plurality that the Nazi’s got in Weimar Germany.
If you want more participation at the local level, then it is at that level that small government conservatism must START and begin addressing the federal over-reach of the last century. Start arguing about every federal program, every federal intrusion, every form, and work with others to fight bureaucratic decisions and go to court over them. You won’t win every one, no, but even a small fraction for things like energy, transportation, and intellectual property can make a huge difference. Once the federal government is shown to be incompetent, officious, overly bureaucratic and incapable of doing ANY of its jobs, things will start to change. Not from the top, but the bottom. Unfortunately that will mean our beloved two parties will hit the shredder, too. They are made for the 19th century, not the 21st. Figure out how to form new, virtual parties that also give link-up and connectivity at the local level and create some brand, new form of politics no one has ever seen before.
Don’t leave it up to the parties: they are stuck on stupid.
Only you can do this. If you dare.
ajacksonian on December 23, 2011 at 3:38 PM
Now the fun part comes just a bit after this with the disqualification of Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich in the VA Primaries. It would be very easy to see this as the disease, itself, but it is only another symptom and it is related to the above. It is very easy to see the shenanigans, infighting, word changing in laws, etc. as the disease, but it isn't that at all. That stuff is a symptom, as well. How can you tell if this is a symptom or a disease? Ask yourself if there was a simple remedy that could have been done, and if so, how would that be performed?
Back again to Hot Air (I am more a commenter than blogger these days) because the above problem is also related to this:
Too bad the Republican district and precincts couldn’t have lent a hand over the summer, huh?
You know ask all the candidates if they would like to have tables at a pancake breakfast or picnic or buffet luncheon in the districts, so that everyone pays a nominal fee for the meal and probably a speaker of some sort to talk about federalism or the constitution… and the candidates could pay a bit more for tables to get people to sign up for the qualification papers.
Geez, wouldn’t a real party that attracte enough people to actually have a functioning sub-State system be a grand thing? Why they could certainly help out by making sure that only party members sign up because they would be, after all, LOCAL.
Maybe there will, someday, be a party that actually concentrates on the local politics FIRST and gets active participation to help change government from the BOTTOM UP so that these higher level figures would have an easier time of it. Because, right now, that sort of party is missing and the gaping hole where it should be has this political label of ‘Independent’. Maybe, someday, these campaigns might just ask for HELP instead of trying to be a one-man-band of electioneering and reinventing the wheel every four years.
ajacksonian on December 24, 2011 at 12:41 PM
If political parties are made to help organize individuals and are, indeed, created so as to offer a suite of options and opportunities for political governance, then the objective of the party is to help ensure the greatest opportunities for diverse opinion at the lowest level of the party. Which is to say that the lowest party level is the one responsible for helping to ensure a lively and appealing climate so that political dialogue within the party can flourish and that is performed by helping candidates get organized when they may not have the necessary experience to do so at locales that are diverse when running for a Nation-wide office (or State-wide office at either State or federal level).
They symptom of people leaving the parties, the symptom of candidates being unable to get signatures at the lowest level are to that disease known as irrelevance. The two parties are not offering solutions at this point, only more of the same old cronyism, and neither party has any interest in breaking up the system to get more ideas and candidates into the system but, indeed, to begin excluding them not from third parties but within their own parties. The centralization of power that has been seen at the federal level is part and parcel of what has been going on inside the two parties for decades. It doesn't come from nowhere, but from the arthritic and calcifying two party system.
If we had a vibrant two party system we would have shouting matches, fistfights and many other indecorous events in our representative bodies because ideas and values would be seen as worth fighting for and not compromising over. When everything is up for compromise, then no values are being represented except that of getting to the 'deal' to be seen as 'doing something', even if it breaks with principles that are strongly held within the party. Representative democracy is not supposed to be about having a 'working system' that slides along ever so easily, but about having a system that does not get in the way of the populace having a hard debate over just what it is the government is supposed to be representing. If the government represented values, principles and ideals it would be hotly debated over, fought over, and reduced in size as hated departments and programs were ended by the one side or the other winning a debate in the population over it, and in any event changes via elections would see severe diminishment in power so as to keep venues for lively debate open inside the Nation. When everyone in government agrees for more government and then utilize the power of the taxpayer purse and writing laws to ensure that the way of those governing is then secured, then civil discourse from the body politic is gagged, bound and thrown in the cellar because that is the end of those seeking to sequester power from the people in unelected bureaucracy.
What is coming next is what I've outlined for The Jacksonian Party: the distributed, networked, locally affiliated, open platform adherence party that actually represents what its members want and is willing to have open and civil discussion about it via the new media. This won't come easily, but the powers in the background are now enabling the people to leave the two party system and what will come will be the Dawn of a New Era. Those running the old era will try to take civilization down with it via promises it cannot keep and by telling the people across this entire planet that they are not worth having around and will not, in any way, see that self-evident rights and liberty are in the individual. They are the establishment within the two parties in the US, the elite in Europe, Russia, China, and the self-destructive Radical Islamists who seek to remake the world and have no understanding of what they are going to get in return. None of the elites understands this world either as individuals or as loosely associated groups: they are operating under the old style 'elites must suppress/repress/rule the mass of individuals'.
They are trying to stop the New Era from happening by destroying economies, civil discourse, and capitalism.
If they succeed the death toll to that success will be fully 2/3 of the population of this planet as nothing else that has been tried in the way of any of the 'isms' works like capitalism does. When results are leveled to be equal, no one sees any reason to succeed via their liberty and what you get from that is not an advancement of culture but a decline into anomie and then, soon, barbarism. Fanatically backed religious ideologies will be hit even harder as the hand of the Gods of the Copybook Headings will hit them even harder as families begin to die of starvation because the much hated materialist goals of capitalism to do social goods via enhancing liberty means they wish to kill of the very people that allow them to survive by getting them low cost food on a global basis. When the food isn't delivered and you can't smite those distant lands because the transportation system has imploded then, as night follows day, you take it out on those who are local to you. Which makes the problem worse, yes, but the kill-off at least means that the food goes a bit further for a short time.
The misguided belief that government can, nay must, regulate everything everyone does from dawn to dusk is not only asinine on its face but unworkable due to the extreme high cost of overhead of implementing and running it. That is the lesson from 'regulating' everything from housing to sunshine: it doesn't work. And as the bureaucracy is isolated from political discourse and yet is wholly infested by political idealogues of the 'we must do something to justify our pay, therefore we must have more power and people in the bureaucracy', it is a prime factor and symptom of the disease. The disease, itself, is: tyranny.
Everywhere you turn is a symptom and they are bemoaned.
The disease is tyrannical government utilizing any tool it can get its hands on to enforce social isolation, to repress speech and thought and to otherwise destroy the very society that creates government. Tyranny is government gone cancerous on the body of the population, and unless it is removed or given such harsh therapy as to kill the mass of the cancer off, society will not survive.
Nor will government in its cancerous form, it will implode from having no society that supports it.
That is what is happening in the US and globally: no one supports this cancerous system and want it gone.
What comes next can either be a polite ushering out of cancerous government by restricting it harshly and understanding the 'good things' it is handing out is poison to the morals, ethics and spirit of individuals, or we will see a Dark Age and Iron Times. The choice is YOURS believe it or not. It isn't in other people's hands unless you hand your life, liberty and pursuit of happiness to other people so as to enslave yourself. If you don't like the government and the system it has created then change or abolish it in a civil way, as that is your right, duty and obligation not just to yourself but your fellow man.
THAT is your Christmas Present, delivered when you were born to you.
If you've lost track of it, I suggest you hunt around the house and find it.
Perhaps it is under all the discarded wrappings?
Best not throw out the gift of liberty with the trash, because you just might need it in the very near future... which is already here, in case that has been missed.