It’s that time of year again, when families and friends gather to give thanks for their blessings and reflect on the things they are grateful for. This year, political parties have a lot of to be thankful for, mainly the electoral rules that help sustain their power.
Below are just 5 things political parties are thankful on this Thanksgiving.
1. Partisan PrimariesBecause who doesn't want their private elections paid for by taxpayers?
In the 47 states with partisan primaries, unaffiliated voters are required to join a political party in order to vote in the primary. This not only robs 100 million voters of a meaningful vote, but costs taxpayers an estimated $400 million annually. Among those footing the bill are unaffiliated voters — the same voters the parties seek to exclude.
Furthermore, over 90 percent of elections are decided in primary elections. With only 10 percent of people participating in these elections, candidates belonging to a political party only have to win over a minuscule percentage of voters, all of which are already members of their political party.
Political parties have managed to hijack the political process at the expense of taxpayers.
2. GerrymanderingBecause when elections aren't competitive, they're easier to win.
As a result of over 200 years of gerrymandering, only 35 of the 435 congressional seats up for election are projected to be competitive in 2014.
“In short, there are entire communities throughout the union that are entirely disenfranchised and cut out from national representation.”
Competition is a defining component of democracy. Without it, our government is not representative.
Sen. Ted Cruz (R), for example, won his primary election with less than 5 percent support from all voters in the state of Texas. He went on to easily win the general election in the Republican-leaning state. When a candidate wins with only 5 percent of the vote, they are accountable to only 5 percent of the population.
This Thanksgiving, political parties should give thanks to the practice of gerrymandering, because it makes their job of winning elections easier.
3. Campaign Finance LawsBecause when individuals can't donate to candidates, they donate to party committees.
While Republicans and Democrats may disagree on some approaches to campaign finance reform, both parties are thankful for individual contribution limits to candidates.
Federal Election Commission rules mandate that an individual may only donate $2,600 to a candidate per election. They can, however, give up to $32,400 to a national party committee per calendar year, and $10,000 to state, district, and local party committees (combined).
Independent voters interested in having a meaningful impact on an election may be dissuaded from participating altogether because he or she cannot donate as much to an individual candidate.
While we discuss campaign finance reform through a debate over corporate personhood, individual limits continues to be a discussion we don’t have, and political parties couldn’t be more thankful. After all, in the 2012 election cycle, the Democratic Party and the GOP both raised over $1 billion, each.
4. Mainstream MediaBecause it favors the two major political parties.
In an attempt to gain readership, the mainstream media thrives on the partisan bickering that defines both the Republican and Democratic Parties. Whether it’s Fox News or CNN, the mainstream media reports strictly in terms of red and blue.
With little to no coverage on nonpartisan politics, political parties dominate the public discourse. Is it any wonder that independents’ trust in the media is at an all-time low?
5. Partisan Commission on Presidential DebatesBecause when you control debates, you control the national dialogue.
Third party or unaffiliated candidates have only participated in two cycles of presidential debates since 1960.
“Third parties are excluded from debates because the Commission on Presidential Debates, run by Democrats and Republicans, and their established rules for debate inclusion, are the deciding factor for who receives invitation to the debates.” Click for full article.
Not only does the commission decide who is invited to the debates, but it dictates what topics are discussed, granting political parties full control over the national dialogue.