Political parties are a lot like crime families, minus the exceptional Italian cuisine, cool nicknames and positive cash flow. Both are a wee bit flexible in the morals and ethics departments, and neither would hesitate to steal the tooth-fairy change from under the Elephant Man’s orthopedic pillow.
I’m not saying the groups are identical; the mob is results oriented, profitable and features strong, competent leadership. Further, the Scarface consortium doesn’t profess a specious dedication to public service, empathy or altruism.
Nicky the Knife never claims his extortion is grounded in a loving desire to enhance your bliss. Paulie Walnuts doesn’t attempt to ameliorate his active participation in your pistol whuppin’ by uttering apocryphal whoppers such as “if you like your doctor, you can keep your doctor.”
Political parties, on the other hand, rely on the misguided loyalty of those with an insatiable need to belong. Their fortunes rise and fall via the largesse of millions who mistakenly believe the party represents their views. The Republican and Democrat fraternities portray their candidates as selfless warriors born to champion the downtrodden, to represent all that is good and pure, to smite the enemies of righteousness.
“Enemies” is usually defined as people who belong to the party that isn’t yours.
Sporting the label of Democrat or Republican — announcing it loud and proud — is as important to true believers as race, color, religion, sexual preference or cable provider. That’s a shame because party elites view individual members as barely useful nitwits. They presume you can’t, won’t, and have no desire to think for yourself.
They’re certain that — like a starving Hereford with a voter registration card — you’ll blindly follow if fed the optimum mixture of impossible promises, slander, false hope and demagoguery.
Sadly, they’re right. Evidence of the hypothesis is as close as the next person who votes a straight ticket. People who toe the party line are notoriously uninformed. Their knowledge of candidates comes from commercials, celebrity endorsements and well-coiffed news anchors whose bias mirrors their own.
For a radical Democrat, Republicans are always 100 percent wrong. For a radical Republican, Democrats are always 100 percent wrong. You’d have more luck convincing a die-hard Scientologist that L. Ron Hubbard was crazier than an outhouse rat than convincing a partisan voter that his side might possibly, occasionally, be a teensy bit off base.
Seriously, do you really think our country would be so contentiously divided if not for the nonsense and chicanery of the major parties? Would our most likely choices for the next president of the United States consist of sorry specimens like Cankles McClinton and the Teflon Don?
Aren’t you even a little embarrassed to be associated with these feckless and self-serving organizations? I mean, pledging undying fealty to the parties is a little like accepting Bill Cosby’s invitation to the prom … for 10 years running.
I admit to holding a political philosophy most folks don’t understand and no party accepts. I’m a gun-loving Rush Limbaugh listener who’s certain that somebody else’s abortion is none of my business. I think the Internet should be strictly regulated and controlled — it’s Disneyland for predators, criminals and terrorists. But I also think Edward Snowden is a whistle-blowing hero. I’m not down with stopping Muslim immigration but I’m dandy with stopping all of it until the current crop of foreigners learns English and assimilates.
Mostly, I believe that the best kind of government is the kind whose fashion choices don’t include party hats. Mostly, I believe it’s the kind that leaves me the hell alone.
A lifelong writer and editor, Ron Marr’s column has appeared in Missouri Life magazine for over a decade. Marr, who lives in rural Bates County, Mo., can be reached via his blog at www.ronmarr.com.