The Primary Wall

So here we are, with all our major problems the government has come to a screeching halt over spending less than 6 billion dollars out of over 4 trillion dollars.  Could anything better show the dysfunction of our two-party system?  This should not surprise anyone who had read  our series on the “Future Party” (Available on this site).  Due in no small measure to our two major parties primary systems, the extremes in both party’s have obtained a veto power over their actions.  President Trump made building a great wall across our southern border paid for by Mexico the cornerstone of his 2016 campaign.  However, in his first two years did little on this monumental building project.  It was only when the last continuing resolution to fund the government before the Democrats took control of the house was agreed on by everyone including the president without funds for the wall was about to approved that the populist wing of the Republican party woke up.  If they didn’t get the funds now they may never their great wall.  Rush Limbaugh, Ann Coulter and indeed most of talk radio suddenly rose up and informed Trump this wasn’t acceptable.  They represent the base and without his base he’s  finished.  They are his power.  We warned  in our 1/30/17 post AND THEN THE REPUBLICANS and even the 8/29/16 post Questions. Do the Libertarians want to win? Do Republicans want to exist? of exactly this happening.  Up to this point, the Trump administration no matter how it appeared has actually worked towards conventional Republican ends, lower taxes, less regulation, conservative judges and a continued world presence. No wall, repeal of Obama Care or a pullback from the rest of the world left the base asking “when do you give us our stuff?” Predictably, agreement or not Trump abruptly changed his mind and dug in.  He had no choice.

One might think the Democratic congressional leadership eager to show their governing chops, would toss Trump a bone for his wall and move on to more substantial things.  Yet, here they are just as dug in as Trump.  Turns out to a great swath of the party, giving  Trump his great wall isn’t what they elected the new house majority to do.  For their populist wing, you can’t fund a monumental wall for someone you hope to impeach.  Pelosi only got the nod to regain her Speakership by promising her left-wing to be tough on the President.  Further the multitude of Democrats running for the right to oppose Trump 2020 simply can’t be seen as giving in to Trump.  One scathing internet attack by  Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez could leave  your campaign stillborn. If the number of possible candidates on the Senate Judiciary committee during the Kavanaugh hearings are any indication these aren’t people known for their character. Remember they were ready to destroy a fine man on absolutely no evidence to curry the favor of the party base.  Remember all those Democratic congressional candidates touting their ability to work across the aisle?  Where are they when you need them?

How did we get to this ludicrous situation?  We did it with the best intentions.  You know the ones the road to hell are paved with. Political Parties appeared by the time Washington ran for re-election.  They were coalitions bent on electing their candidates at every level of government.  While general principles eased the coalition building,  the actual party workers were focused on winning.  They were the worker bees who ended up as delegates to state and national party conventions.  Realizing a weak top of any ticket could doom their down ballot people, an acceptable candidate was a necessity.  In short the party stalwarts put out the products they thought gave them the best chance of winning at every level.  It was their party and they made the decisions of whom to put before the voters.  It was a closed system but it worked fine for over a hundred years.  Around the turn of the 20th century the progressives of the day decried this closed system an undemocratic.  It isn’t enough voters determined the winners, they needed to the candidates as well.  By 1920 New Hampshire had held the first Presidential primary.  More democracy would be better.  What could go wrong?  We forget our country was founded on a deep skepticism of pure democracy.  As George Washington put it, “It is one of the evils of democratical governments, that the people, not always seeing and frequently misled, must often feel before they can act right; but then evil of this nature seldom fail to work their own cure.” That’s why they opted for a Representative Republic rather than a true Democracy.  Distance and experience were put in place  to protect us from democratic rashness.  The Bill of Rights was all about protecting individual against the momentary majority.  Benjamin Franklin  observed, “Democracy is two wolves and a lamb voting on what to have for lunch. Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!”

 

Just how the “Democratic Reform of Primaries” has in fact lead to increasing discord and division can be  illustrated by our biggest state, California.  Having moved up its primary to March, it will have a major effect on determining the two parties presidential nominees.  In 2016 Donald Trump in the winner take all primary received over 74% of the vote and all 172 delegates.  A whopping victory.  However, in the general election he lost to Hillary Clinton by almost 2 to 1.  The Republican down ballot candidates were swamped.  Why would Republicans overwhelmingly vote for a top of the ticket dooming their party?  There are different Republicans, the populists that show up en masse to vote in primaries and there are  smaller number of grunt workers that maintain the party.  By primarying out any moderates the populists actually increased their sway.  They’re all that’s left. This has led to the near demise of the party in the Golden State.  Thus we have the insanity of a state Donald Trump has no chance of even coming close to winning in the General election giving him a huge leg up in the Race for the 2020 nomination.  This along with similar situations in other deep blue states makes unseating him an almost impossible situation.

However just imagine if California had party stalwarts as delegates voting in a state convention to choose their candidates. These people aren’t interested in suicide, they want to win and grow.  The toxic in California Trump just might find them looking for someone who could help elect Republicans rather than sinking them. By its nature a party by having to have wide appeal is a moderating institution and isn’t that what we really need right now.  Unfortunately, the Democrats face the same primary induced pressures as the Republicans. That is why we proposed a “Future Party” that would be a real party.  A party that among other things prohibits primaries.

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