The mariner is not sure about the reader but the mariner has been tossed about on the deck of the 2016 election for President. Since the very beginning of the process, the voter hasn’t had much of a say. The Republic (Federal, State and Local) has not modernized itself since Lyndon Johnson freed the slaves again in 1964. Richard Nixon, socially clumsy as he was, had an intuition for international policy; with the aid of Henry Kissinger, a bright Secretary of State, he established a relationship between China and the US. The two nations were absolutely unknown to each other and were blocking a move toward globalization.
Jimmy Carter introduced kindness to the language of politics but it washed off as soon as he left office.
Reagan became President in 1981. Everyone remembers “Gorbachev, tear down this wall!” but that event was already ordained by European and Russian economics – Reagan was just the toastmaster. What Reagan really did was stop cold the center-left culture that took root under FDR and flourished until Reagan (Eisenhower never was an ideologue but was favorable to business interests).
That center-left culture included voters as an influence in politics. Reagan and his kitchen cabinet put together a list of policies which put the Republic back in the hands of Plutocrats. Wealth and upper class became the drivers of the Republic. This group is known today as the “Establishment.” It still is controlling things. With the mental acuity of a worm, the Supreme Court finally and legally turned the Republic over to the Plutocrats with Citizens United. Voters no longer drove the Republic – unless one voted with money. The Supreme Court is not allowed to consider cultural values. Consequently there is no issue with calling money speech. If dogs were a political force, they would qualify as having free speech. In fact any creature would qualify. If you doubt that, watch ‘The Birds” with Rod Taylor and Tippi Hedren (1963).
Since then, the Republic’s gestalt has been left adrift. 41, Clinton and 43 were no more than keepers of Reagan’s list. All three left the heart of the Republic on its own while improving the world of corporations and unsavory tax and banking interests, releasing them to become the modern version of buccaneers in the fifteenth century who robbed cargo ships from Jamaica to Yemen and India. The new world economic model was the same – except lust need not be satisfied by raiding a ship at sea, it was satisfied by wage suppression and manipulation, by moving labor to the cheapest country allowing the tax-free hoarding of cash and, as Bernie may say, sending 90% of the Republic’s GDP to 1% of the population.
Finally, there was enough dissatisfaction about how the plutocracy was treating its citizens that the Reagan gestalt began to splinter both in the conservative citizenry and in the liberal citizenry. On the one hand, blue collar conservatives had had enough of salary suppression and the newly legal opportunity for manufacturing to move out of the US destined for cheaper labor markets. Once manufactured, the products were sold in the American markets at higher prices. Enough is enough, said the blue collar conservatives. Joining the blue collar dissatisfaction, the fundamentalist conservatives had had enough of a “no comment” Congress who had ducked religious issues since the last generation. LGBT had blossomed overnight, abortion would not die and State’s Rights were constantly overridden by the courts.
On the liberal side, it was the same story. The same types of folks suffering from unfair labor practices on the right were suffering the same dilemma on the left. The college educated were faring no better. Graduated and truly deep in debt, jobs for the graduates were disappearing rapidly. The biggest culprit was computerization. Unless a grad could get a job in technology or invent some odd thing that turned into a billion-dollar buyout, times were just as rough as on the labor class. By April of 2015, still not recovered from the recession of 2008, grumbling was afoot everywhere. Conservatives wanted to throw the bums out and return the Republic to 1970. Liberals wanted to restructure the overly capitalistic oligarchy and turn the Republic back to the voters.
The time was right to join a political party!
Join to what end? Voters quickly realized both parties were controlled lock stock and barrel by the “establishment” – Reagan’s plutocracy. By April 2015, The Dems knew it would be Hillary; the Reps knew it was Jeb→. Who needs primaries and caucuses? In the early going, the two presumptive candidates were raking in money from contributors and PACs.
But strange statistics were emerging: 47% of previous full time workers still were working part time. Government reports said there were no more jobs. Wages were dropping every month. These statistics revealed a churning, irritated electorate the plutocrats had underestimated.
In the last Presidential election, times were peaceful. Party Rules Committees agreeably changed Convention Rules to accommodate favored candidates. In April 2008, the Establishment thought the election would be status quo. Was the plutocracy surprised when Jeb → and Hillary were joined by 16 serious candidates for the reps, a talented and experienced Governor from Maryland and an independent Senator from Vermont? Oh, by the way, enter the Donald. The voters (and the Establishment) knew by now that things were going screwy in a hurry. To complicate matters, broadcasting companies thought they could improve market share if they marketed debates. Now five distinct groups were in the game: nineteen candidates, two parties, four broadcast companies, the Reagan Establishment (R+D), and the discontented voters (R+D).
To shorten this account of the Republic versus the Parties, a few quotes will suffice to describe how both parties slowly had squeezed out public participation:
Donald says, “The primaries are crooked. Every time I read ‘Bernie wins!’ then I read ‘Bernie loses.’ I win the majority of voters then I’m told, Lyin’ Cruz wins.”
Bernie says, why are we having a debate on a Saturday night during an important basketball game?”
Bernie says “The delegate system is designed to control the vote. It is not democratic.”
It was too obvious that primaries were tightly controlled by the two parties. The plutocrats were caught in the open playing puppeteers. The resultant split between the Republican Establishment and its party members threw the whole Republican process into disarray. Donald saw a hole in the line and charged through it for a touchdown. Mariner and the reader will have to wait for the Republican Convention to see how things turn out but however they turn out, the Republican Establishment has been stopped dead in the water. The role of the party primary must change what it represents ideologically and procedurally in 2020. Let’s hope the voter is included.
As to the Democratic Party, it is in shambles, too. Democrats will win the Presidency if only because the Tea Party and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell shut down the Congress for the last 7½ years.
The delegate process will be under close scrutiny.
There are still seriously damaging behaviors by each party. The most serious is gerrymandering. Redistricting must be removed from any hint of political influence. Primaries will never represent the true intent of every voter until the districts are a matter of census rather than a description of political and class preferences that intentionally falsify representation.
Also serious is money in politics. There should be none except what the Republic provides and what can be raised within the scope of one’s jurisdiction. After all, the Party is not the Republic, the reader is the Republic. Broadcast corporations don’t collect profits for campaigns, the Republic requires educational programming for campaigns.