Leadership Isn’t Inherently Evil
by David Todd McCarty | Tuesday, December 12, 2017
There is a growing belief among some Democrats, or at least those among the Left, that we should become more of a pure Democracy in America, or at least within the Democratic Party. That everyone should have a say about everything.
I disagree and I’ll tell you why.
I think the original framers of the Constitution were onto something. They recognized that too much power in anyone’s hands was dangerous and had been the cause of most of the world’s problems. That included the citizens of this fine country. No one should have too much power.
I’ve seen this first hand, where a lack of leadership ends in anarchy and disarray. Everyone believes they’re right. Nothing is accomplished.
Leadership of a group, or a country, or even a business, isn’t an inherently evil proposition. It has existed within tribal communities since the dawn of time, it exists within the animal kingdom, within corporations, and even within sports. Nowhere in human history has a society existed without a social order, which includes leadership.
We can certainly argue about the type of leadership we fancy. Our current state of affairs seems dismal at best. We can even debate how best to choose those who would lead us, and I’ll get to that.
But I do not believe that the answer is to have a completely open primary system.
The fact of the matter is, most voters are woefully uninformed, or worse, misinformed. They have little to no knowledge of how government functions, or what the proper skill set would be to perform well. Finally, they rarely have any real knowledge of the candidates, outside of what they hear in the media, let alone a candidate’s specific gifts or liabilities.
You do need a group of people, who should be elected, to vet the candidates and choose by consensus, the person they think would make the best candidate, and who would be most likely to win.
This last part isn’t not inconsequential. You can’t just choose a candidate who you feel would do the best job. You need to choose a candidate who would be best suited for the job, and capable of winning an election. Those are two very important, and very different things.
I’ve pointed out in the past, that we’ve had politicians who were good at their jobs, but not particularly moral; very moral, but not every good at their jobs; intelligent but ineffective; and amiable, but ineffective. It’s important to try to find someone who is both a good politician (knows how to compromise within a governmental body in order to get things done) and is a strong leader (understands the issues and has the cognitive ability to lead).
Next let’s discuss political parties. I’m not going to claim absolute understanding of all the intricate, let alone legal or constitutional issues surrounding this, but I’m going to give you my layman’s understanding of it.
For this, I’m going to need a little help from Richard J. Hardy:
It is impossible to comprehend the workings of the United States electoral process without a firm grasp of American political parties. Political parties are groups of people with shared interests or principles that are organized to nominate candidates for public of policy in order to win elections, control government, and set public policy. They are complex, multifaceted organizations with varying functions and ever-changing personnel, perspectives, and positions on public policies.
American political parties are replete with paradoxes. A paradox is any statement that appears self-contradictory, but expresses a possible truth.
1. Although political parties play a vital role in American government, there is no mention of them in the Constitution of the United States.
2. The framers of the Constitution disliked political parties but depended upon them to forge our fledgling government.
3. Political parties are private, semipublic organizations.
4. While political parties were neither planned nor revered by our founders, it is doubtful our Constitution could last without them.
5. Minor political parties rarely score electoral victories, but they play a vital role in American politics.
6. Despite the proliferation of minor political parties, the United States has consistently maintained a strong two-party system.
7. America is known as a two-party system, but there are at least 50 Democratic parties and 50 Republican parties today.
8. Political parties have played a critical role in American constitutional history, yet they are often vilified.
If you’re interested in a better understand of this, I suggest you read his article on the matter. But let me talk about a few important takeaways.
Political Parties are not government institutions, although they are governed in part by state and federal law. In a nutshell, The Democratic Party is a private institution that is governed by their own rules and bylaws. If they want to nominate a grapefruit, they are well within their rights to do so. This is not a Constitutional issue. If you are not part of the party, you don’t get any say in the matter.
So, how do you get to be part of the party? Many people think that registering for a political party gives you an absolute say in the ongoing workings of the party, but in reality, it just allows you through state law, to vote in that party’s primary, or to be affiliated, depending on state law. There is little or no federal ruling on this. Almost all voting laws are state laws.
If you want to get involved in a political party, you have to actually get elected to a position of power. You need a seat at the table so you can vote for things like the Committee Chairperson, or vote to choose candidates. I’m still navigating this myself.
This takes me back to our earlier discussion about why we don’t just allow a free for all during a primary. Why can’t anyone run for office? Well, generally you can. If you get enough signatures, and meet the requirements of your state, New Jersey for instance, there are three basic methods by which an individual may become a candidate for office in a state. An individual can seek the nomination of a state-recognized political party. An individual can run as an independent. Independent candidates often must petition in order to have their names printed on the general election ballot. An individual can run as a write-in candidate.
Not many people win as independents, at least not at a high level, and almost no one wins as a write-in candidate. That means nearly all candidates rely on getting the nomination of a state-recognized party. And since there is a large machine of politicians, precinct captains, volunteers, etc, it’s nearly impossible to run a successful campaign as a third-party candidate.
So, why not more parties people ask? Wouldn’t we be better starting a new party? Start fresh?
In 2016, only a little less than 60% of eligible voters cast ballots in the national election. The good news is that there are now over 200 million people registered to vote. The country is split nearly evenly in two, which means that the winning party, won with the approval of just 30% of registered voters, or roughly 60 million people, or about 17% of all Americans. I’m pretty sure my math is correct on that one.
So, just 17% of all Americans chose our current President and most of Congress. That’s frightening.
If we start splitting off votes to the Libertarians or The Green Party, then you’re taking those numbers down even lower, with even less chance of winning.
Finally, from my experience with the Left, there is absolutely no consensus as to where progressives or moderates should go with the party. Some feel we need to be more centrist, so we can attract a more moderate voter. Others think we need to more far Left and revolutionize the Party. I imagine that if everyone left the Democratic Party, to start their own political party, we’ve had a few hundred thousand political parties, none of whom would be speaking to one another.
Remember, the Occupy Movement? No leadership. No common goals. No structure. Plenty of passion and no accomplishments.
So, in my opinion, if you want to see real change in American politics, you have to get involved with the party that best serves the needs of the country and work to make the changes you wish to see there.
The people I’ve met range from old-school traditional party people, to energetic, young policy wonks. But I believe they all have one thing in common.
You can’t get anything done, if you don’t get your candidate elected.
Do we ever get the perfect candidate? Not really. Everyone is inherently flawed in some fashion.
I heard a really good talk by a very successful businessman about branding. He was talking about developing branding campaigns and he made the point that you shouldn’t ever look for perfection, because you won’t find it. Better to get 80% of the way there, and then hammer on it for all it’s worth.
I think that’s largely true in politics.
Show me a politician who understands all the nuances of policy and I’ll show you someone who probably can barely hold a conversation with a stranger. Give me a candidate who is a real charmer, and they probably don’t really know the details of much of the policy.
We try to find compromises.
Now, finally, how do we work to change the Democratic Party so that we can not only win, but begin to feel like we might elect a government that serves the people once again?
Here is my plan:
First, we need to become the party of working people everywhere. You don’t have to be a blue collar laborer to work for a living. Most of us work for a living. In fact, I’m talking about the 99%. Office workers, to pilots, roofers to engineers, brick layers to doctors. People who work for a living. That’s what Americans need, a government that will work to give us all a crack at the American Dream again. A middle class and the ability to become upwardly mobile. We need higher wages and better education. Not more tomahawk missiles or tax cuts for corporations making record profits. We certainly don’t need more wars. We need to be just as concerned for the rural poor, as the urban poor. Government should help people who need help.
Second, we need to embrace people of faith. All faiths. From Christians to Hope Indians. We need to stop acting like faith is a dirty word. Almost all faith traditions believe in love, kindness, compassion, welcoming strangers, forgiveness, caring for the poor and sick, and humility. None of them believe that wealth is the goal, military might is worth sacrificing education, or that fences are the best way to make good neighbors. If Democrats, weren’t so afraid of religion, and if people of faith weren’t so looked down on by Democrats, we’d realize we have a lot more in common than we thought. What would Jesus do, or Mohammad, or Buddha?
Third, we need to be a party of civil rights. Race. Ethnicity. Gender. Sexual Identity. All of it. These can’t all be seen separate identities that struggle for power or influence within the party. Democrats need to believe that everyone in America deserves equal rights under the law and fight like hell to promote that. Whether that is an attack on transgender rights, or stopping systematic, racist, police abuse of power in our communities of color. They’re all the same fight within the party. This is not to say that the needs of the white suburban soccer mom are the same as the single, black mother living in an urban housing project. But within the party, we should make sure that the black single mom has the same rights as that white women. This means we need to stop the war on drugs, which is really just a war on the poor and people of color. We need to reform our criminal justice system and we need to do away with the profiteering of prisons.
We also need to listen. To those who have been disenfranchised and forgotten. Who do not have a voice. Who have no power.
Those are all things most of us can agree on. That we treat people the way we want to be treated. That we help those in need. That our government looks out for us.
The final piece to this puzzle is that we have to rebrand the Democratic Party. We need to have strong messaging, with simple ideas. We need to get the money out of politics, and until we do that, all our pet concerns about this group, or that group, will never be resolved. We need to come together to make government work for the 99%, not the 1%. We need to come together.
We will hammer the Republicans and their wealthy donors like there is no tomorrow, because I have to tell you, if we continue down the current path, there probably won’t be a tomorrow.