Wednesday, December 14, 2016

"These Are Fake Parties" — Or, Here’s Who Gets to Vote for DNC Chair


How the Democratic Party still decides its leaders (click to enlarge)

by Gaius Publius

In most of the developed world, the leaders of a political party are elected by the voters in that party, not party insiders. For example, in the U.K. in 2015, Jeremy Corbyn was elected leader of the Labour Party — not Prime Minister, party leader — with 59% of the vote. Nearly half a million votes were cast in that election, with a better-than-75% turnout.

The procedure:
Candidates [are] elected by [party] members and registered and affiliated supporters, who all receive a maximum of one vote and all votes [are] weighted equally. This meant that, for example, members of Labour-affiliated trade unions needed to register as Labour supporters to vote.
That's how it works in the U.K. Labour party, and in fact, in most political parties in countries like ours and those in Western Europe.

In the U.S., however, leadership of our political parties — even and especially when the party is out of power — are controlled much more narrowly. Bottom line — party members do not control who leads the party. A small group of largely unelected (by party members) party leaders do.

For a look at how that works, and to give you an idea of which (and how few) people will decide the election of the next DNC chair, consider the following. I received this from a colleague and California Democratic Party activist via email, who lays this out rather well (reprinted with permission; emphasis mine):
Consider the astounding fact that the Democratic Party, a national U.S. party — one of only two, thereby representing half the country, and the one that presents itself as the party of the people — has only 447 voting "members."

And then when you dig deeper, you find that about half of these members are not elected at all [to party leadership], but are actually appointed [to leadership] by the chair or automatically become members as a result of being an elected official. So we can maybe say that only about 250 or so of these members are actually produced through some sort of quasi-democratic process in the states.

But then I go to my own state Democratic party page, and I find that even out of its delegation of 38 DNC members, 20 of them are chosen by an Executive Board — and what a coincidence, these elected members have some of the most powerful names in California politics! But funny enough, even many of the ones that aren't chosen by that Board just coincidentally happen to be powerful California elected officials. One of these 38 members — out of 447 nationally! — is the daughter of Nancy Pelosi. ... And Nancy Pelosi herself is of course one of these 38.

So the reason party members don't elect its leaders is actually pretty simple: These are fake parties. They are enterprises operated by and for professional politicians and their appointees. Asking them to turn these into membership organizations would be like asking your local supermarket to turn over the pricing of its items to the customers.

Most Americans don't realize any of this because they've never really known anything else. To most Americans, a political party is an organization operated by professional politicians and their appointees. And whichever party's offerings you agree with most is the one you give your money and votes to. The idea that you could actually shape the choices offered to you in a political system, by working through a party organization, is absolutely foreign to most voters.
So for comparison, in the U.K., more than 420,000 Labour Party members elected Jeremy Corbyn party leader. In the U.S., in the absence of an elected Party president, about 450 Democratic Party leaders, about half of whom were never elected to party leadership, will determine who chairs the Democratic National Committee.

The U.K. gets Jeremy Corbyn. We get whatever person a small number of Party leaders want us to have. Words to remember.

These are fake parties. They are enterprises operated by and for professional politicians and their appointees. Asking them to turn these into membership organizations would be like asking your local supermarket to turn over the pricing of its items to the customers.
How undemocratic is the Democratic Party? You can probably answer that for yourself.


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At 10:28 AM, Anonymous ap215 said...

Good work GP also don't forget when DWS was appointed by Obama she removed his ban on restricting lobbyist donations, Tom Perez threw his hat in the race for the job yesterday i'm still rooting for Keith but this will be one ugly voting process.

At 12:31 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks again, Gaius. Yes, we are in a mess here. The founding fathers would be very unhappy. They tried hard to put in measures to protect democracy from this stuff, but where there is a will, large egos and lots of money, there is a way. I believe this has been the story since the beginning of civilization. All so sad. Maybe humanity will wind up destroying itself. The planet will survive without us.

At 3:32 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

The answer is quite simple. don't belong to any party. This isn't to say that you can't vote for them in actual elections if you choose to do so. But why should you put yourself in the position of not having a franchise in a party yet still be bombarded with fundraising demands?

It's like this: as long as party insiders make more off bribes and "contributions", let them fund the defense of their "remuneration". I see no reason to use my dwindling financial resources to put them into offices where they will let the Republicans take even more of my dwindling financial resources.

At 4:15 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Nicely done again, GP, but, again, you stop short:

"These are fake parties. They are enterprises operated by and for professional politicians and their appointees."

True, as far as you took it. However, you SHOULD have expanded on the second sentence.

Since the Democrap fake party is operated of, by and for pro pols and their appointees; and since the pro pols and their appointees serve at the pleasure of the money that supports (buys) them; then the conclusion NEEDS TO BE that the fake party is of, by and for the big money that owns it.


And, yes, almost nobody knew this. And I would speculate that even if all 320 million americans were TOLD this and given incontrovertible documented proof, only a couple of million would give a good god damn about it.

After all, we've been electing pols and blithely following clergy for the purpose of doing our thinking for us so we don't have to.

At 11:07 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, that famous, and "super," 447, so critical in nominating the party presidential candidate who, when she did prevail in pre-election polls against her likely rival, did so only within the polls' margins of error.

And, of course, they simultaneously destroyed the alternative candidate who consistently prevailed in double figures in the same polls.

Yes, so insulated, inbred, elite ... and super, super profoundly STUPID.
(And, apparently, proud of it.)
A point of semantics and beyond: the refrain "these are fake parties," while accurately portraying the preference of the author, and perhaps the vast majority of this blogs readers, hardly accounts for history and reality.

To paraphrase one of history's most smug assholes: "you don't necessarily go into an election with the political party you want but with the party you have."

And we can only have the party we want by working to make it so. Therein lies the problem, society's basic structural economic inequality selects for only the elite, insulated, inbred few who need not devote every second to simply surviving, much less voluntarily restructuring a political system clearly corrupt ... at all levels.

I rather doubt this is merely a coincidental feature of capitalism's treadmill for the many.

John Puma

At 2:05 PM, Blogger QAdams said...

I enjoyed reading the article, GP, and then when I took a second look I realized that the photo you used is a screenshot from one of my all-time favorite movies. Nice!


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