Party of One 49


As I suspected going into this primary season, I recently re-registered as a democrat in order to support progressive challenges to DC’s entrenched dysfunction in the only way possible.  DC republicans are as crazy as the national party and the only republican running that I could even stomach voting for is running for school board in another ward of the city than the one I live in, so there is no sense in voting republican in the primary this year.

The nation’s capital is a great example of why all political change must come by way of the primary election system as well as by shedding of party identity as our primary motive for voting.

I have long been accused of being a “typical republican” (basically since I joined the party’s moderates in August of 2008 in a sincere effort to help change the GOP from within) not withstanding my actual ideas which are anything but standard republican fare.  That I don’t really fall into the standard mold of either party is an additional confusion my trolls can’t seem to pass up as a starting point for the caricatures of my blogs and comments.

That Americans practice politics in such a naive and ham-fisted fashion is the real on-going tragedy of the commons.  Barack Obama’s election offered a rare chance for us to turn back the rank tide of partisanship that has defined our political sphere for far too long and yet the party faithful on both sides of the fence pretty much guaranteed that the president’s new project would be dead on arrival in a Washington still bitterly divided along stark ideological lines.

As our “elected” Neros fiddle their schizoid refrain, America’s grassroots burn with disaffection and angst.  We The People once again march into the breach, flailing at anything that moves if it is of a differing political hue, with little to no provocation.  We are willing to engage in countless hours of on-line or in-person sniping yet can’t be bothered to vote in primary elections with anything resembling consistency much less intelligence.

The same group of clowns have been in charge of both parties as well as the national agenda for decades, yet somehow they always end up more powerful than the previous election no matter how badly they screwed the pooch for the previous two or four or six years.  I don’t know about the rest of you, but I am going to vote a straight anti-incumbent ticket for whichever party seems most likely to retain control of whatever location I am living.

Getting new blood through the primary election and into the fait accompli general seems the only way to actually fix what ails us, regardless of party.

IT'S EASY TO SHARE

Facebooktwittergoogle_plusredditmail

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

49 thoughts on “Party of One

  • stillidealistic

    Rec’d not for agreement of your position, but for discussion.

    I understand where you are coming from…I have not swayed one iota from my feeling that they are “republicrats,” but given the way this stupid game is played, I’d still rather have a wimpy dem than a repub. I cannot, and will not reward the republican party for standing behind bush and mccain. Period. End of discussion.

    The idea of voting anti-incumbent doesn’t fly for me, be cause it allows for the possibility that the new person will be different, which allows for the possibility that they AREN’T “republicrats.” One does not get the nod from either party w/o having established party creds, which, as far as I’m concerned, cements their “republicratism.” Better the devil you know than the devil you don’t.

    Gotta change gates…back in a minute!

    • stillidealistic

      Sorry, back again to finish my thought…

      I hate that I am unable to feel more optimistic about what we face in politics, but as long as the senate rules require 60 votes for cloture, the repubs hold all the cards. If the dems don’t have 60 solid seats, the repubs win. If they have enough seats, and then a number of the blue dog votes, they still win.

      They have proven that obstructionism is a viable strategy…

      I recently read a poll here on TPM that said something like 55% of likely voters said the republicans need to control the house and senate to act as a balance to Obama’s policies…WTH? They keep him from doing anything without control! I guess they want a veto-proof majority so they can assure that absolutely nothing positive gets done…how nice it must be to be the minority party, who can vote down ANYTHING that will help the country, then run on “well, the dems are in power, the mess is their fault!” and get away with it…they could care less about how much people suffer in the process

      My frustration level is at an all-time high! (Could you guess?)

      • Jason Everett Miller

        Anti-incumbent in the primary elections for me means someone new gets a chance to do the job that no one in either party is currently doing effectively in my opinion.

        Most of the candidates in any given primary election are non-party. Typically only a single one will get the nod from the established parties no matter which they align with.

        I am not saying anti-democratic incumbents because clearly they are only half the problem, though the idea that the republicans problems started with Bush or McCain seems a stretch.

        This is not an ideological distinction for me because I am none to pleased with either main-stream governing philosophy extant in America politics for the last forty-plus years.

      • Jason Everett Miller

        PS: That means I won’t be rewarding local republicans with my vote this year as they have not seen fit to offer a counter narrative to the last five decades of GOP hypocrisy.

  • dickday

    I was quite taken by Decider today on a more personal blog, but Jason it is really easy for me to at least render unto you the Dayly Theme of the Week Award for this here TPMCafe Site, given to all of you from all of me.

    This is a well thought out post and well written.

    We the citizens have an affirmative duty to research the positions of our local pols and national pols.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, Double D. DC is a strange place in that the only politics that exist are local.

      Given the domination of the democratic party here, there is little choice but to support candidates in the primary election that speak to a new type of “centrism” than the one we have been stuck with for too long.

      When both parties fail to connect with a large majority of the country’s voters, it seems to me that neither is pushing plans that are right for the nation no matter how “pure” their motives may be at first glance.

      Appreciate the comment.

  • SleepinJeezus

    Voting a straight, anti-incumbent ticket? Oh, yeah, that’s the answer. I gots all kinds of faith that un-vetted Sharron Angles and so many like her are the answer to a more responsive and responsible government.

    Do you actually think before you write? Or is it more important for you to arrive at original thought as a “deep-thinker,” regardless of consequences?

    Maybe look at holding our elected officials – incumbent or otherwise – to a standard that says pay-to-play will not be tolerated within the Party. THAT we can accomplish from the grassroots level, if only:

    a.) We have the courage to admit that it exists, even on “our side,” and we acknowledge it when we see it in action; and
    b.) We make it a primary consideration for anyone asking us for our support.

    Anything else is simply leaving the game in place with all its rules that allow the owners to make suckers of us all.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      I think it is disingenuous to propose that a single fringe candidate making it through the primaries (or even two or three who then go on to lose in the general) is somehow prima facie evidence that getting rid of incumbents is a bad idea.

      The only way to hold elected officials accountable is by voting them out of office when they don’t deliver their platform. Not entirely sure what other method you had in mind. With an average turnout of 20- to 30-percent for primaries, no one is being held accountable at any level in America.

      That game hasn’t changed in the forty-six years since everyone finally had the right to vote. The problem isn’t that the game is rigged. The problem is that most of us don’t both to show up and play.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      If you are happy with the representation you are getting and the government resulting from those actions, by all means vote your guy or gal through.

      Every primary season at least one or two political unknowns are running without party sanction and an interesting platform. We used to have much higher turnover because government wasn’t considered a career. Most left to go back to their real jobs.

      We have too many “good old boy” networks at every level of government that can only be beaten by infusing the system with new blood not beholden to old ideas or misplaced loyalties.

  • Dan K

    What do you want your new crowd of anti-incumbents to actually do once they are elected?

    What makes you think that the newbies are likely to be any less partisan than the people you want to throw out?

    Could it be that the reason The People are permanently frustrated and enraged is that they don’t really have a clue about what should actually be done?

    • Jason Everett Miller

      There is a finite set of tasks government should be doing but doesn’t as it is riddled through with fraud, waste and abuse at every level.

      Fix the incestuous relationship between private interests and public policy or face being voted out the next election.

      Rinse and repeat as many times as it takes for government to start working again.

      • Dan K

        Yeah, sounds great. But you still didn’t say anything about what you would like the new guys to do, other than in the abstract.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          I already said exactly what I want them all to do – the business of government in a way that doesn’t lead to an unsustainable orgy of fraud, waste and abuse.

          This blog wasn’t about the specifics of individual policies. I want government to do their job efficiently and effectively and the least cost as possible.

          I have been in and around the federal and local government for over twenty years now and the way it runs is moronic at best. Schizophrenic at worst.

        • OldenGoldenDecoy

          Take note of his quote Dan K …

          I have been in and around the federal and local government for over twenty years now . . .

          Yet ’round the Cafe, he has stated numerous times that he never took it upon himself to get actively involved nor even voted until the past few years.

          Better late than never, but it doesn’t look too good when he lashes out at others who have been active with accusations of never getting anything accomplished over the past 40 years.

          See February 9, 2010 8:57 AM

          I became a republican because democrats haven’t gotten a thing done in more than 40 years, so changing that party from the inside seemed a waste of my time and theirs. Plus, liberals mostly whine and lecture and bitch but don’t really do anything about their problems and are seem pathologically unwilling to try something new, despite their marketing literature.

          Now he’s again re-registered as a Democrat because he’s flip-flopping and floundering like the fish it’s named for.

          I think it it’s best that one pick a principle and tries to support it… for longer than one election cycle.

          But … which ever way the winds blows…

          To each their own.

          ~OGD~

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Once again misquoting me and providing a red herring that has nothing to do with the topic at hand. I said I didn’t get involved in politics until I was in my thirties and left the Navy.

            Just about ten years now.

            I stand by my quote that you did provide. As far as I can see government is broken from stem to stern and you never provide a counter argument that makes a damn bit of sense.

            I joined the republican party because it clearly doesn’t matter who is in charge. We The People always get screwed.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            PS: Thanks for coming out and proving my point once again. Appreciate the assist, though none is really needed.

          • Jason Everett Miller

            More rude and dismissive squawking from the duck. One would think you would learn how to talk with people after all these years.

  • destor23

    I sympathize with this and frankly doubt it would do much harm. I also doubt that straight anti-incumbency, would do a ton of good since two problems remain: the wrong people seek political power and the wrong people are the only ones who can raise the money necessary to seize it.

    That said, I think there’s something neat to imagine here. What if we elected a new class of congress made up primarily of political newbies? These people would have no attachments to some of the ridiculous theatrics of governance or the traditions of the House and Senate. That in itself could be a good thing.

    The reason I sympathize with this anti-incumbent idea is that I’m tired of being told “how Washington works.” Most of “how Washington works” is based on the traditions and conventions of the people who have made their careers there. The rest of us are sometimes forced to live at the mercy of those whims. And they are whims, really. These are not things you’ll find in the constitution or any of our founding documents. This is… Ben Nelson says you don’t get your meager unemployment insurance check this week because… well, he doesn’t have to day why you just don’t get it.

    A lot of the absurdities we deal with are caused by the entrenched incumbents. Maybe getting rid of them all really would do some good.

    • Dan K

      These people would have no attachments to some of the ridiculous theatrics of governance or the traditions of the House and Senate.

      Why? All of these newbies will belong to one of the two political parties; and they all will have taken money from powerful political players to get elected. Once elected, they will immediately start playing ball and climbing the food chain to move up and enhance their power.

      I think we have to realize that the problem with America isn’t politicians; and it’s not parties. The problem with America is Americans. We’re knuckleheads. Our politicians just reflect that reality.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      You’re feeling me, Destor, but I disagree that unknowns can break through the party static via the primaries. Just look at our president, who was far from the party choice in February of 2008.

      With an average 20-percent turnout for midterms and 30-percent for presidential years, the primaries are ripe for transformational leaders who see government as a public service rather than a road to private gain.

      I think we lost something huge when members of Congress started staying for decades rather than years.

      • destor23

        Me too. Though I am kind of loathe to support term limits. In principle I guess I think people have the right to their beloved representative right to the grave if that’s what they want. But then, as you know, the powers and privilege of incumbency does limit the choice of voters. Sure, you can have a new guy. If you’re willing to risk trading a senior representative for a junior one. Just kiss that big job creating defense contract good bye!

        • Jason Everett Miller

          Well, term limits would pretty much do away with “Senior” anything beyond the staffers, who do all the real work anyway.

          It’s the sweetheart deals that are killing the effectiveness of government in general, I think, when performance is no longer the measure.

          Seems that longevity alone is the measure of effectiveness, which no damn sense to me.

  • readytoblowagasket

    What are you fucking talking about, Jason? D.C.’s self-rule charter is toothless

    Under the Home Rule government, however, Congress reviews all legislation passed by the Council before it can become law and retains authority over the District’s budget. Also, the President appoints the District’s judges, and the District still has no voting representation in Congress.

    and the population is 600,000. There’s a mayor and 13 council members, not all of whom are up for re-election, and not all of whom you can vote for anyway. All incumbents are Democrats except for one. This is the legislative calendar. So what can you possibly mean by “grassroots,” “progressive,” or “new centrism” for your community? D.C. is unlike any other community in the country, so comparing it to the country as a whole is preposterous.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Congress rubber stamps most things that come out of the City Council and the mayor’s office, so the idea that we are different than the rest of the country at the local level is absurd.

      We do not have a vote in Congress, that is true, but neither does anyone else in the country. They send the same dipshits to Washington year after year and nothing ever changes.

      We reflect the “one party” principle that rules every congressional district and locality in the Nation and can only be defeated by increasing primary turnout for unknowns.

      Just like our president did in 2008.

      • readytoblowagasket

        Thanks for not answering my question about what constitutes “progressive,” “grassroots,” and “new centrism.” I’ll assume you have no real answer.

        Congress rubber stamps most things that come out of the City Council and the mayor’s office,

        Of course Congress rubber stamps most things; that’s because your city council legislates on zoning issues and drunk driving warning signs. I’m not making that up, I got it from the “legislative calendar” I linked to.

        so the idea that we are different than the rest of the country at the local level is absurd.

        No, your idea of D.C.’s similarity to the rest of the country is absurd. And grandiose.

        We do not have a vote in Congress, that is true, but neither does anyone else in the country.

        Let’s just call you on your bullshit right here and clarify the issue: We vote for senators and reps and you don’t.

        They send the same dipshits to Washington year after year and nothing ever changes.

        Correct. And that is how our democracy works: The person who gets the most votes wins!

        We reflect the “one party” principle that rules every congressional district and locality in the Nation and can only be defeated by increasing primary turnout for unknowns.

        According to a study in 2007, a third of the residents in D.C. are functionally illiterate. So you have some pretty big hurdles to cross first if you want to increase primary turnout in D.C.

        Just like our president did in 2008.

        Not only is this a non sequitur, but it’s false. Obama was nominated by the Democratic Party, not the One Party. He accepted the nomination, ran as a Democrat, and was elected as a Democrat. Forever in the history books, he will be known as a Democrat. Sorry, Jason.

        • Jason Everett Miller

          PS: Obama was the non-party candidate who came out of no where to beat the “establishment” Hillary Clinton in the primaries.

          He was elected by republicans, democrats and independents over the clear choice of the system by way of millions of small donors.

          Your view of history is decidedly skewed by ideology instead of facts. Just like you don’t know jack about Washington DC politics.

          Carry on smartly.

          • readytoblowagasket

            Your view of history is decidedly skewed by ideology instead of facts.

            It’s not my view. I think Obama is a closet Republican! I’ve said so many times. Therefore, I agree with you: Calling Obama a Democrat is factually inaccurate!

            Just like you don’t know jack about Washington DC politics.

            Well, you could answer sincere questions about D.C. politics when asked, or you could bloviate bizarre generalities instead! Why don’t you write a blog about D.C. politics and what specifically is wrong in your view?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            You never asked a sincere question, though you offered many rude asides. As soon as I see a sincere question, I will sincerely try to answer it.

          • readytoblowagasket

            What is your definition of “grassroots,” “progressive,” and “new centrism” as it applies to your D.C. political community?

          • Jason Everett Miller

            Progressive to me has the same definition whether it is in local DC politics or on Capital Hill or the country as a whole.

            It starts with a willingness to explore new ways of doing the business of government that neither of today’s current party leaders are even talking about due to long-entrenched interests. It is a mix of of both liberal and conservative methodologies aimed at sustainability and accountability and transparency.

            I think our mayor has been fairly progressive in many of the changes he has made, though he has some shady trips that make him more typical pol than not. That he contracted to fix the cities web-based services more than two years ago and very little has changed is another warning sign.

            Still, his challenger is no better as Council Chair, so I will probably vote for the devil I know.

            There was a very progressive republican who ran and won the At Large primary against a long-time incumbent republican. Unfortunately, a democrat who lost the primary ran as an independent in the general and got enough votes to take the “minority party” seat on the council.

            Another missed opportunity for change. The continued idiocy of the local GOP is proof of that as they send out invites to hear David Frum speak. Ugh.

          • readytoblowagasket

            Thanks for the response, Jason. As I said above, I think you should write a more specific blog about D.C. politics (or politicos), like you did one other time, as I remember. Washington’s status as a federal territory affects 600,000 residents’ lives. There must be lots to say about that.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      The choice in the primary is what kind of soup you would rather have. It is only our peculiar political dysfunction that keeps us mired with a Hobson’s Choice general election.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Thanks, JEP. I hope to find a more recent image at some point. You know how it is when you find pictures you like. They become the default. Only difference now is length of my hair and the number that are gray.

      • matyra

        I’ve been balding since I was 20-21; so as I shave my head my hairstyle hasn’t changed in 16 years. It makes looking at old photos not seem like “wow, you’ve changed a bit over the years” ring almost true.

  • San Fernando Curt

    I would get behind this idea, Jason, if I thought it would change anything. But the problem our democracy suffers right now is one of funded influence corrupting our public officials no matter who they are or under what circumstances they are elected. As soon as they take office, they are swept into a whirlpool of lobbyists, money and their attendant obligations. If I was GE or New York Life or Citibank, my government would listen to me. As a citizen, part of the very sector democratic government should heed and respond to, I’m a vapor.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      The reason they ignore us, Curt, is that we don’t turnout for primary elections.

      Since most incumbents get through without a credible challenge, I am not sure that we have ever seen what new blood might do. At least not in my lifetime. I agree that it would take a couple of strong election cycles to break the chain of civic disinterest and democratic disdain by our “elected” leaders.

      Voting these criminals out of office at every opportunity seems the only way to change things short of an armed revolution most of us are too fat and lazy to attend. Not to mention the fact that most Americans can’t shoot despite an over abundance of weapons.

      In either case, all change in the country starts and ends with We The People.

    • Dan K

      Of course, the response of a significant proportion of our fellow-citizens to this rule by corporations is to get the government off the corporations’ backs and give them even more power.

  • matyra

    As elected officials from both parties rely upon money to get elected, real change can only come if money is separated from elections. I think that’s why both parties seem similar and impotent.

    There have been a few recent state and local laws moving areas towards more fair elections. But the national scene is still up for the highest bidder, in my opinion. If only the ‘normal folks’ of both parties would get behind actually making the political system speak for them, then we’d see some change. If the Tea Party’s “Take back our country” rhetoric was truly about taking back our country back from corporations and wealthy donors, I’d join in a heartbeat. We need some true grassroots change.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      To me this paradigm is still speaking to the general elections vice the primaries. With so few people turning out for the latter, money is much less a factor.

      I agree that “normal folks” are not the type currently making it into positions of power in America. I think it is because so few of us vote, but that appears to be a minority position around here most days.

      Thanks for dropping by.

  • JEP07

    “shedding of party identity as our primary motive for voting.”

    Can not argue with that, but it is somewhere we want to go, not someplace we have ever been.

    By we, I mean We, the People.

    We are not nearly so divided in our real lives as we are in our political egos.

    Now that the media is so dependent on campaign ad money, that division is their only story. The more they divide us on obscure issues and promote myopic, single-issue antagonistic perspectives instead of a much broader spectrum of ideas, the more they (the MSM) loses their last grasp on the 4th Estate.

    There is one thing that we all seem to agree on; DC is a snakepit, and most of them live on a now-mythical avenue called “K-Street.” As long as we send our elected officials there to do their work, they will get bitten.

    While we may not agree on a shared ideology, we all agree on the results of doing our most important government business in one city where the snakes all bite and the vultures can feed without fear of interruption or hindrance.

  • JEP07

    “shedding of party identity as our primary motive for voting.”

    Can not argue with that, but it is somewhere we want to go, not someplace we have ever been.

    By we, I mean We, the People.

    We are not nearly so divided in our real lives as we are in our political egos.

    Now that the media is so dependent on campaign ad money, that division is their only story. The more they divide us on obscure issues and promote myopic, single-issue antagonistic perspectives instead of a much broader spectrum of ideas, the more they (the MSM) loses their last grasp on the 4th Estate.

    There is one thing that we all seem to agree on; DC is a snakepit, and most of them live on a now-mythical avenue called “K-Street.” As long as we send our elected officials there to do their work, they will get bitten.

    While we may not agree on a shared ideology, we all agree on the results of doing our most important government business in one city where the snakes all bite and the vultures can feed without fear of interruption or hindrance.

    • Jason Everett Miller

      Agree. Both times. Not sure what the solution is, but enforcing term limits at the polls seems to be a good first step.