Winning Elections

During my short experimentation in political party participation I learned that parties are run by activists. They are the lifeblood of day to day operations. Most loyal Democrats and I suspect most loyal Republicans are mainstream in thought and not all that interested in pushing their beliefs off on others. They don't attend monthly party meetings, party rallies or political conventions.

If they get involved in their local party they find out the activists can be demanding and overbearing and sometimes resentful. They often measure a supporter's value by how many hours they spend campaigning.

The system works because the activists keep public awareness up and generally define candidates that run under the party flag, and if all of that work properly informs the rest of the party, the rank and file vote favorably to the party. Those registered party members may not do the canvassing or speech making, but that occasional act of voting is the most important thing any party member can do.

What it seems to me has happened to the Republican Party over the past decade or so is that activists found the party in control of many state legislatures after the past two census cycles. They excitedly used their influence to convince office holders to push through gerrymandered districts that created more safe (non-competitive) districts. This led to increased influence by the more radical elements of the party. Those with extreme views are highly susceptible to demagoguery. The demagoguery of radio and TV personalities and power-hungry politicians pushed the fringe to challenge the more reasonable and moderate candidates.

I imagine a good number of Republicans now regret creating those districts where even good Republicans can no longer win elections.

It all begins when activists lose perspective and respect for all those loyal voters who will never knock on a door or shout at a rally and who could care less about the petty fights to attend the state or national conventions. It begins when they stop trusting that voting is enough and they start looking for ways to secure victories without winning the hearts and minds of the electorate.