So It Goes in Rotterdam: Internal Exclusion

At The Rotterdam Windmill, Michael O'Connor provides a post-election analysis on his independent run for town council in Rotterdam, NY:
The election is over. I lost. The alternative choice we had hoped to provide by creating the independent No New Tax Party ballot line was not fully embraced by the electorate, although we pulled some significant numbers in spite of prognostications otherwise. In the end, it simply wasn’t enough.

The ramifications of our involvement though have caused many to speculate that “we split the vote” and were responsible for the paradigm shift of power in the town. A Republican supermajority was transformed into a Democrat supermajority overnight. It was a Democrat sweep of epic proportion.

So what does that mean? First, it means some people (ousted Republican incumbents and their leadership) are really, really p*ssed. They attribute the loss solely to the existence of the No New Tax Party. They assume that we split the vote and ALL our votes, or at least the majority of them, would’ve gone to the Republican candidate. Maybe, but I don’t agree. The argument is fair enough but I think it’s too simplistic. Here’s why: it doesn’t account for the fact that we appealed to independent voters, some that may not have even voted otherwise and also that we commanded many Democrat votes as well. It also doesn’t account for the impact of an ill-advised Republican attempt to create a new town-wide tax district prior to the election. In other words, it’s plausible that the Republicans lost because of their own missteps. [Emphasis added.] There is an element of party arrogance that hasn’t been acknowledged. People definitely wanted and voted for “change.” We tried to provide it in the form of the No New Tax Party but instead the voter opted for the “change” offered by the Democrats. In my opinion, the Republicans would’ve lost the election either way, albeit by a narrower margin perhaps.

Let’s take a closer look at my race in particular. Remember, I won the primary in September to secure the Republican ballot line and thus, essentially returned the dynamic in my race to the traditional dynamic of two-party politics. I was competing in a separate, special election rolled into the general election. My opponent was a Democrat, who also had the Conservative endorsement. I’ve been the recipient of some Republican leadership wrath because they lost control of the town when their candidates fell to the Democrats. They blame me. I don’t believe the blame is warranted but I understand how I make a convenient scapegoat. If the Republican leadership really was interested in keeping seats, they would’ve supported me after I rightfully won the Republican primary. They didn’t. Moreover, a prominent Republican state assemblyman appeared on my Democratic opponent’s campaign mailer days before the general election. [Emphasis added.] I lost by 572 votes and actually commanded more total votes than either of the two big dog Republican candidates running for the 4 year terms in the other race. Not too shabby in my book.
Read the whole thing. Given that Michael established an independent ballot line for the No New Tax Party, and secured the Republican nomination in that party's primary, the response to his effort by the local Republican Party establishment is doubly instructive. By framing the No New Tax Party as a third party "spoiler," GOP leaders can avoid taking any responsibility for their party's loss. On the other hand, even though he was endorsed by a majority of Republican voters, Michael was still effectively marginalized as an outsider by the GOP establishment, which may well have cost him the election. This is another example of what I have previously called 'internal exclusion':
the duopoly parties systematically exclude third party interests from everyday political discourse and activity, while framing this disenfranchisement as a triumph of democracy and non-partisan law-making . . . However, it should also be noted that such exclusionary policies and practices are not confined to eliminating external threats to the order of the duopoly. Two-party discipline also necessitates what we may call internal exclusions, which maintain the 'integrity' (and I use this term loosely) of the established structure of power . . . The two party system maintains and reproduces itself by means of external exclusions possible only on the basis of the bipartisan front, as well as internal exclusions which consolidate the power of party elites via the discipline of the good old boys and girls clubs.


American Daughter said...

There is NOTHING in the US Constitution that establishes political parties. Anyone has just as much right under the law to form a party and field candidates as the Dems and Pubs.

For the two major parties to suggest otherwise means they do not believe in our system of government as the founders intended. In a truly free US, NO special interests should be allowed to hijack the electoral process, as the Dems and Pubs have done. They are organized monied special interests, and exclude real honest citizens.

With a destructive system of patronage, they suborn the selection of qualified candidates, and create a self-serving network of good old boys.

d.eris said...

Couldn't have said it better myself, American Daughter. With regard to the constitutional issues, I find especially offensive the fiction – commonly maintained by Democrats, Republicans and other supporters of the two-party state – that the parties to the two-party state somehow form a "check and balance" against one another. With this insidious formulation, they imply that what is little more than a convention for the maintenance of the status quo is part and parcel of the Constitution of the United States.