What is a Political Party?


I propose some discussion that regularly asks the question about party loyalty and identification. I would like to explore the basic idea.

First, let’s note that the effective parties have lots of people volunteering to do the grunt work which aids publicizing policy, setting up town halls, helping new candidates run, and of course fundraising. There are volunteers in the precincts, precinct captains, delegates to platform committees, delegates that vote on the elected officials of the parties, and so on. And finally there are the delegates to the nominating conventions. To my understanding, pretty much none of these folks are paid. But the victory in Alabama would not have happened without these people. Ditto Obama’s wins.

The parties are not what Madison warned against: factions with only an issue important to them, at possible cost to everyone else. They are a philosophy. Republicans have always been concerned with tradition and morality, as well as the “obvious” virtue of wealth. Democrats, after Andrew Jackson, presented as the party of common people, which of course risked a tyranny of the majority in condoning slavery. But the definition eventually had to include everyone that was a citizen, and now includes all people that live and work in the country.

A faction is the NRA. Another faction would be libertarians. These groups may find sympathy in one or the other party, but their interests are confined to the main issue of unrestricted guns (NRA), or free rides on civilizations’s back (libertarians). I consider the Green Party a faction. Each of these might claim they act for everyone’s interest, but it seems easy to show they leave out huge areas of important policy.

The Democratic Party is not the phone company, an aloof entity exploiting its customers. It is open to all, and inherently transparent in most of its operations. To the extent one is sitting back and waiting for a candidate to be offered one is a free rider, letting others do the hard work. Voting is the absolute minimum involvement level, but because there are a lot of committed and energetic people that step up work for campaigns, the minimum is not wasted.

I admit I am kind of shy and not comfortable canvassing or cold-calling, although I did some canvassing in my district in 2012. I am grateful for the folks who serve in the Democratic Party, because I know that winning is the only thing that will get you anything.

To be disappointed in the Party, or a candidate, is nothing. Who has never been disappointed by one’s lover/spouse/children, or God? It is the weakest of complaints to say the Party does not inspire. It is our job to act, not to be entertained.


I read this just after you posted it and had to spend some time deciding how I would respond to it or for that matter whether I would bother with it at all. (I Guess I Just Can Help Myself) While your post was most interesting in a rather subversive way, it was the last line that I found most … humorous… well, that and the ‘The Democratic Party is not the phone company, an aloof entity exploiting its customers’ comment… they pretty well give away your intent and also, your lack of understanding… or lack of willingness to admit, the definition of the word faction is indeed exemplified by the party of the Democrat.

As you rightly point out it is not a ‘party’ that is a faction but the minor groups within it seeking a specific political goal. As, for example, those who want to legalize pot will exploit the ‘use no force’ doctrine of the Libertarian party.

You make some interesting points but they are made, in my opinion, to obscure the intent of your post. The obligatory slam to the NRA and even though you discounted ‘parties’ in your definition of faction, you single out libertarians as being something less than a ‘party’ even though they do have conventions, do have planks in a full platform policy issues and those planks are contested just as vigorously as any of the ‘effective parties’ that you describe in the paragraph above.

If course your purpose was to identify the scandalous potion of the Republican Party and the scandalous factional issues that make it up. Fact is that what you do is point to the glaring hypocrisy in your view of the virtuous party of the democrat… like minded and united. Fact is, the republican party are far more united on issues than you might believe… or want to believe. Take guns for instance. Not every republican owns a gun and some, if they had no care for the rule of law might oppose open gun ownership. But whether a gun enthusiast, casual owner or non gun owner, they are bound in the issue around the constitution of the United States and the very reasons of the inclusion of the second amendment. They are unified on the issue. They are unified on the issue of a work ethic and the harm of state largess on the motivational forces that affect the human being. They are united by fact and common sense that capitalism (not the crony incestuous relationship we have between government and business) has raised the standard of living around the world far more than socialist attempts (and it hasn’t killed nearly as many people either)

Now as far as factions go… your adoration of the Democratic Party is suspect. See, the Democratic Party is made up of factions who have little interest in each other. The hardcore feminist has little respect for a woman that even needs an abort… gays have no interest in the subject either. Women care little about men’s rights and blacks more than other racial groups care little for the subject of transgender. Transgender don’t care about any issue other than themselves and all of these groups are hypocrites about ending racism. The only thing that unifies these groups is the block vote. If you vote for my potentially harmful life quest, I will vote for yours… and as we have seen in this last election cycle… the left love states rights if it suits them and their relationship with business makes one question their stance on the subject given that the most wealthy segment, banking, gave heavily to the party of the democrat. Democrats use to be highly religious… until it didn’t suit them any more… and they still refuse to believe that they are the root of fascism and have been the consort of Russia for decades. So for as for holding the party responsible for a loss is paramount… the party of faction requires a unifying force to bring together the votes of many, many groups whose issues would gain little or no traction without it. Hence the meltdown by the rank and file, hard working volunteers and voters… when the party couldn’t hold all the nebulous groups who care little about each other, together.

In answer to the original title subject… a ‘true’ political party is a group of people who stand under a hand full of generalized beliefs. The left is would seem, exist on the ‘anything goes’ platform… rule of law does not matter, the constitution does not matter, national sovereignty does not matter and it would seem that at the end of the day neither does a work ethic…

As shows up in this post a political party can split in what its ideals are. I have said for decades that neocons are nothing but Trotsky democrats. They are the military arm of the nation building, democracy spreading democrat.

Their appears to be a movement afoot to redefine (a staple of the left) the word conservatism… we can see evidence of this in this post.

We see more and more creeping into the discussion about republicans a ‘new’ definition. One that says that a conservative is little more than a democrat but wants change (democrats version of change) to go far more slowly than democrats do, Where the standing definition is a group of people who believe in national sovereignty, the constitution as the actual base law of the land, states’ rights, individual responsibility and a meritocracy that encourages a dedicated work ethic. But, as intended by his post, these ‘neoconservitives’ in conjunction with their favorite democrats are trying to pull the principled positions of the Republican party into the factional and fractured vision of the left.


What a shame. This had all the makings of being an excellent post and for whatever reason you felt this it was a good idea to insert a plug for the Democratic Party. Here’s a tip newcomer. If you want to have some good discussion about what makes a political party then keep the promotion of one party over another out of it.