The Wages of “Reform”

While the Democratic Party left is agitating to get rid of the unbound “superdelegates” that made it virtually impossible for Bernie Sanders to hope to overtake Hillary Clinton, I expect a move from Republicans to adopt the Democrats’ superdelegate scheme for the next election cycle, especially if Trump loses. But this is only a part of a larger story about our time, which is the dangerous weakness of party establishments.

I know this will run against the grain of a lot of readers, but set aside the well-earned dislike of party establishments for a moment and take in the argument of why the weakening of political parties is the result of 40 years of “reform” that favors the real establishment in the country—the administrative state.

The word of the day comes from Megan McArdle, who offers up a succinct description of the problem in her Bloomberg column today:

I think Clinton’s candidacy — like Trump’s candidacy, in its own, very different way — points to the fatal weakness of the political parties. Decades of “good government” reforms have systematically stripped the power that parties once had: to control money, to control committee assignments, to control how much pork politicians get to brag about to the voters back home. What’s left is a hollow shell that cannot effectively respond to either grassroots insurgencies or to outsize figures who effectively turn the party apparatus to their own ends. If you think, as I do, that parties play a vital role in organizing political action toward coherent goals and long-term accountability, that’s something that should worry you.

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