The campaigns will be eager to tell you the meaning of
My old boss, the late
I remember asking Ben on more than one occasion why the
Ben's point was that the image of the
I think about my conversations with Ben a lot these days. Sen.
When the leading Republican is arguably a more loyal Democrat than the Democratic sweetheart, it certainly seems silly to talk about either party as particularly powerful organizations. Does anyone quake in fear of Democratic National Committee Chair
Politics, the saying goes, is downstream of culture. Well, our culture has been losing faith in large institutions for a very long time.
In June, Gallup found that only three major institutions still captured the confidence of a majority of Americans. More than 70 percent said they had a great deal or quite a lot of confidence in the military. Small business and the police garnered 64 percent and 52 percent, respectively. Organized religion, the presidency,
It's no wonder the parties are not immune to such trends. In fact, the parties were ahead of the curve.
The primary system, which took power out of smoke-filled rooms and handed it to voters, was a self-inflicted wound from which party bosses have never recovered.
Once upon a time, earmarks and other perks encouraged partisan loyalty up and down the food chain. But party leaders stripped themselves of these prerogatives, like soldiers tearing off their stripes.
As party power has declined, the relative strength of special interests has grown. Outside groups often have more money and flexibility than the parties.
And yet, news of the parties' demise hasn't really reached the voters. The ranks of people describing themselves as independents have been swelling for decades, at least partly on the mistaken belief that breaking from the parties is a bold act of rebellion, when in reality they're kicking a dead donkey -- or elephant.
The real source of power in politics resides in personalities, not parties. It's been hard to see this until recently because the personalities of old were career politicians --
Whether or not Trump and Sanders go on to win the nomination, they've already played a historic role. They've exposed the parties as the weaklings they've long been.