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The decreasing importance of political parties in america today

By Jonah Goldberg Feb 02, 2016 3: Ted Cruz, R-Texas, arrives for a caucus night rally on Feb.

The two major parties are paper tigers. My old boss, the late Ben Wattenberg, was a conservative Democrat who worked for decades to keep his party from drifting leftward.

In the end, he failed. But he fought a valiant fight. He helped found the Coalition for a Democratic Majority, which was a kind of precursor to the Democratic Leadership Council, the "New Democrat" organization that helped Bill Clinton burnish his image as a more conservative, "different kind of Democrat.

He'd always respond pretty much the same way. The Democratic Party is a dozen people with fax machines.

  1. My old boss, the late Ben Wattenberg, was a conservative Democrat who worked for decades to keep his party from drifting leftward.
  2. Jeb Bush is a darling of the Old Guard, and yet it hasn't been able to prevent his fall.
  3. They've exposed the parties as the weaklings they've long been. The real source of power in politics resides in personalities, not parties.
  4. In the end, he failed. It's no wonder the parties are not immune to such trends.

I think about my conversations with Ben a lot these days. Bernie Sanders, a self-described socialist, who isn't even a member of the Democratic Party, is the runaway favorite of the party's liberal base. Donald Trump, an ideologically unmoored billionaire who has changed his party registration five times since 1987 and donated substantial sums to Democrats, has been the Republican front-runner since this summer.

  1. Jeb Bush is a darling of the Old Guard, and yet it hasn't been able to prevent his fall.
  2. In the end, he failed. The ranks of people describing themselves as independents have been swelling for decades, at least partly on the mistaken belief that breaking from the parties is a bold act of rebellion, when in reality they're kicking a dead donkey — or elephant.
  3. But he fought a valiant fight. Jeb Bush is a darling of the Old Guard, and yet it hasn't been able to prevent his fall.
  4. He'd always respond pretty much the same way.

Advertisement As party power has declined, the relative strength of special interests has grown. Outside groups often have more money and flexibility than the parties themselves.

Ted Cruz is reviled by his fellow Republicans, and yet they haven't been able to stop his rise.

Jeb Bush is a darling of the Old Guard, and yet it hasn't been able to prevent his fall. Politics, the saying goes, is downstream of culture. Well, our culture has been losing faith in large institutions for a very long time.

  • Advertisement As party power has declined, the relative strength of special interests has grown;
  • The two major parties are paper tigers;
  • Outside groups often have more money and flexibility than the parties themselves;
  • Well, our culture has been losing faith in large institutions for a very long time;
  • The real source of power in politics resides in personalities, not parties.

In June, Gallup found that only three major institutions still captured the confidence of a majority of Americans. Organized religion, the presidency, Congress, the courts, the schools, the medical system, the media and the rest were all underwater or simply in the toilet.

It's no wonder the parties are not immune to such trends.

The decline of political party power

In fact, the parties were ahead of the curve. The primary system, which took power out of smoke-filled rooms and handed it to voters, was a self-inflicted wound from which party bosses have never recovered. Once upon a time, earmarks and other perks encouraged partisan loyalty up and down the food chain.

  • The real source of power in politics resides in personalities, not parties;
  • In the end, he failed.

But party leaders stripped themselves of these prerogatives, like soldiers tearing off their stripes. As party power has declined, the relative strength of special interests has grown.

Outside groups often have more money and flexibility than the parties.

Political Parties

And yet, news of the parties' demise hasn't really reached the voters. The ranks of people describing themselves as independents have been swelling for decades, at least partly on the mistaken belief that breaking from the parties is a bold act of rebellion, when in reality they're kicking a dead donkey — or elephant. The real source of power in politics resides in personalities, not parties.

It's been hard to see this until recently because the personalities of old were career politicians — Bill Clinton, George W.

Bush, Barack Obama — hiding behind the partisan light show like the man behind the Wizard of Oz. Whether or not Trump and Sanders go on to win the nomination, they've already played a historic role.

  • He'd always respond pretty much the same way;
  • But he fought a valiant fight;
  • In June, Gallup found that only three major institutions still captured the confidence of a majority of Americans;
  • It's been hard to see this until recently because the personalities of old were career politicians — Bill Clinton, George W;
  • Outside groups often have more money and flexibility than the parties themselves.

They've exposed the parties as the weaklings they've long been.