The Pros and Cons of Being in a Political Party

Donald Trump Give Nothing to His Political PartyPolitical scientists Boris Heersink and Jeffery Jenkins wrote what I think is an incredibly insightful article over at The Monkey Cage, GOP Voters Picked Trump. Party Leaders Aren’t Falling in Line. Here’s Why That’s Surprising. The basis of the article is what politicians gain by joining a political party and what they give up.

They note that there has been a great deal of research done on what being in a political party provides. The biggest thing is that parties help individual politicians win — elections as well as battles over law making. They also note that relatively little research has been done on what they give up in joining a political party. That may be because it’s kind of obvious: they give up their independence.

Give a Little and Get a Little

Now I understand, none of this is shocking. Everyone has been a member of a group. And you know that you give a little and you get a little. This is, by the way, why I’m against the Bernie or Bust movement. While it’s true that Hillary isn’t my perfect candidate, neither is Bernie. If I wanted perfection, I would write in myself for every elected office in every election ever.

The problem that Heersink and Jenkins highlight is that Donald Trump hasn’t given anything to the party. He is entirely himself without making any compromises to the party. Thus, why should the party offer him all the good things that come with being in the party when he hasn’t and likely won’t reciprocate. I’m very much with John Dean: Donald Trump is a classic authoritarian leader. He’s also a narcissist. It’s all about him. I’m sure that a 1% chance of his becoming president more than offsets a 99% chance that he will destroy the political party he is nominally attached to.

Cruz Is Even More Disloyal to His Political Party

Ted Cruz Give Nothing to His Political PartyBut what goes unmentioned in the article is Ted Cruz. And I think he is an even better example of this. That’s because Trump has used the Republican presidential nomination for his own purposes, but he hasn’t really used the party otherwise. He might have been able to do this well as an independent. Ted Cruz on the other hand, has used the Republican Party to win at the state level and then at the national level. But he has been the very definition of disloyal. He’s been one of the Democrats’ most potent weapons since he entered the Senate.

The conclusion of the Heersink and Jenkins article is that by Republican elites not going along with what their voters clearly want, “The result could be a complete fracturing of the party.” But I think that the fracture appeared a long time ago when candidates like Ted Cruz started getting elected. If you look at the primary so far, over 70% of all Republican votes have been for Cruz or Trump — candidates who take and do not give to the party. The base doesn’t care about the party. The base has been trained by the party itself to think that the base should get everything it wants and should never have to compromise about anything.

And I can’t blame them. Since at least Bill Clinton, the Republicans have not argued that the Democrats, as a political party, are wrong about policy, but that they are foreign interlopers bent on destroying the nation. The Republican Party is already fractured. The question is whether it will be destroyed.

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About Frank Moraes

Frank Moraes is a freelance writer and editor online and in print. He is educated as a scientist with a PhD in Atmospheric Physics. He has worked in climate science, remote sensing, throughout the computer industry, and as a college physics instructor. Find out more at About Frank Moraes.

11 thoughts on “The Pros and Cons of Being in a Political Party

  1. I’m a little puzzled; I get the “Trump has no allegiance” thing, but Cruz? The only way I can see Cruz as “disloyal” is if you want to make the case that the Republican elites ARE the only measure and definition of the GOP. Cruz represents a sizeable faction within the GOP, the Christopathic wing that has, indeed, been trained to believe that the elites will give them the theocracy they want even though if they were more intelligent they’d realize that the elites couldn’t give them that even if they wanted to…

    Otherwise Cruz toes the GOP line on pretty much everything; tax cuts for the rich, bashing women, gays, Muslims, darkies…he’s a Party guy in every respect other than the Jesus-pestering, which is pretty much part of their schtick, too.

    Now he’s a complete asshole, to the point that even his own caucus hates him personally. That’s the only thing about him that I can see as a “potent weapon” for the Congressional D’s. But as much as the Wingnut Caucus hates Cruz they hate the Dems with an order or magnitude more hate. So how does that help them..?

    • Yes, I am talking about the elites. They are the ones who provide the branding. They are the ones who provide the money. They are the ones who provide the infrastructure. The mistake the Republican Party has made is becoming dislodged from its base. The Republicans could right now have a government that was much more to their liking if they didn’t have people like Ted Cruz demanding purity. So yes, he was disloyal to the party. And I’m glad for it.

      • Hmm. OK. But how does Cruz “demand purity” without ten thousand Teabaggers behind him howling for the Blood of the RINO? My understanding is that Cruz is a walking backpfiefengesicht; even his own family pretty much seem to hate him. Without the wingnut base demanding he and Ryan and the other Congressional R’s take monthly votes to repeal the ACA and refuse tax cuts for the rich if it means raising the debt ceiling how does he use his Christopathic Green Lantern powers to kneecap the Koch Brothers?

        In other words, he’s betrayed the plutocrats but hearkened to HIS base.

        For a liberal like me, that’s fine; that means the plutocrats don’t get some of what they want but the lunatic base can’t get what they want, either (because it’s just batshit insane; nobody’s going to write the Ten Commandments into the Constitution, Edna…)

        So I’m not sure he’s an actual traitor to the overlords HE wants…

        • If he succeeded, I suppose he would have a case. I’m not saying that he’s not staying true to his base. But the essence of a party is a collection of different interests. For example, I know that I’m off at the edge in American politics. I see it is my duty to pull the country to the left — not to get all of my dream policies. Cruz has actually helped the left. And great! But that doesn’t make him loyal for the conservative party.

  2. When you join a party you take on all the baggage of the party. So as a Democrat I am instantly ID’d as someone who is pro taxing and spending. Who is pro things that some people literally hate. Since the party reflects many of my values, I find it worth the negative as well as the positive.

    I also give up being a smug, holier than thou jerkface but I am sure there are nice independents out there somewhere.

    • I’m getting at something different though. I think Barney Frank is a good example of it. He’s clearly a lot more liberal than even legislation that bears his name. But he accepts that. I’m a Democrat in a different sense. I think it is cowardly to claim you are an “independent.” I’ve never known an independent who wasn’t totally partisan. Usually, they are independent because they are (in almost all cases in my experience) further to the right than the Republican Party. I am further to the left than the Democratic Party. I’m not “independent.” When it comes down to a choice between the the Republicans and the Democrats, there is no choice. So I’m a Democrat, even if I think of myself as more like a traditional Labour Party member. I guess it is just that I think people who call themselves independents think they are fooling someone. But it’s important to note that I’m not a politician; I’m just a voter, and that’s different anyway.

      • Yes. You are the person I am supposed to be sucking up to regardless of how much you vote in a way that drives me nuts.

        *is joking*

          • It is tremendous, fantastic, amazing, the best. Unbelievable!

            And since I think that you are indeed better looking then Trump, I have nothing more to say then blonde toupees are gross.

            • I don’t get the thing about his hair. I think he just has fine hair and it is thinning. I find his skin far more creepy. I’m glad to age naturally. Great wealth and fame make people crazy.

  3. @Frank

    Someone posted a photo on Twitter of him of what he looked like without the hair and spray tan and it was pretty decent.

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