I hate this whole "party system" bull$hit.
I felt his frustration, but think this criticism is slightly misplaced.
What I hate is the primary system, not the party system. When a political party is properly utilized, it becomes a useful bureaucratic container for political action. Bureaucracy is like a bowel movement; nobody wants to deal with it, but it is a necessary part of life.
The Caucus System
The caucus system used to select candidates for a general election, through the process of party delegates, choosing the candidate through party platform and negotiation. Delegates then select the candidate by votes along the party lines. The voter comes in on the general election, and votes on candidates who strongly represent the ideological platform of the parties.
The old caucus system used to have its share of corruption problems (as was parodied in the Three Stooges “Ham and Egger” skit). However, the caucus system had one important facet. People who were educated in the ideological orientation of the party, chose the candidates who would run in the general election. Distinct party ideologies make decisions possible. They make decisive leadership possible.
The Primary System
The primary system is a construct where there is an initial vote to approve a candidate for the election, by the will of the voter. Delegates to the convention, are then technically bound by that decision, when they cast their convention vote. To be fair, it was argued that this is more democratic than the caucus system, since the voter is involved in both stages. This works well, as long as the largess of the voting population is civic minded.
Well, Something Happened
The modern television media has literally poisoned the primary system with imagery, sound bites and scandal mongering. These now play an enormous role, next to a few major key issues, in determining the quality of your candidates. Now you have people who are elected for the full head of hair and a confident smile, not leadership strength. Executive branches suffer the worst in this system.
The Poor Leadership Cycle
When the media get's involved, it's ratings priorities and sensational nature corrupt the primary process. Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dummer become the candidates, based on how they will be perceived by the public in the media driven primary system, NOT on strict ideological accomplishments and qualifications. Look at both Bush and Kerry. There just isn't anything tasty on the buffet, is there?
After this happens, they look the same, smell the same, and get their support from the same sources. The actual functional position on issues and platform are facades.
After this happens, the undecided voting population increases, out of disgust.
Once the undecided population increases, the candidates begin to stray even more from the ideological path, to manage their opinions based on polls. Again, ideology takes a back seat.
Once this happens, they look even more alike. This amplifies the general disgust and the size of the undecided vote. This brings us back to Doh.
An Abraham Lincoln would not pass a primary on looks. A Teddy Roosevelt could not pass a primary on a high shrill voice. A Dwight Eisenhower could not pass a primary cause he is bald…
So, Insol, what about Ronald Reagan?
What about him? When you roll two dice, you have independent variables. Once in a while, they come up favorable on both faces. You get a candidate with very good communication and ideological skills, along with television appeal. How many Reagan’s are lined up for ’08?
Ideology is Still There
The Primary system doesn't destroy the ideology. The ideology lingers on, trying to find its way into the ebb and flow of the party bureaucracies. You get liberal Republicans and now, perhaps, conservative Democrats. The problem is the party bureaucratic containers cannot contain ideology, like they should; You cannot lead with force and confidence under those conditions.
There is also a rabid ideological bend to the media. They are unelected and unappointed. However, they have a collective ideology and the will and motivation to exert it in every way possible.
It was 180 Degrees Wrong
Conservatives supported RINO incumbency, in the primary, out of fear that the party could lose. Then they sat on their a$$es in the general election, out of disgust. So they lost.
Fixing this system, if possible, will be painful. Why? There is a real ideology out there, which has to win. The losing ideology will then have to game the system to win.
Let's look at the Leiberman race. The liberals did the right thing in that race. They did what conservatives should have done in the primary. They ran an aggressive primary candidate, who represented their ideology. The voters rejected that candidate. It was the liberal ideology, which lost that race, not the relevance of the process.
If I were The King of the Forest
I would $hit-can the primary system. Fix the caucus system’s shortcomings and create distinctive platform positions, not based on the moderately undecided wishy-washy candidate, but based on qualifications. Then the general election would provide distinct candidates.
Not that any of this would ever happen, mind you! Just follow the money.