As Kevin Williamson points out in the NR, much of what made this nation great and exceptional in the first place was the fact that we tempered democracy with many un-democratic, and even some anti-democratic, features – the filibuster, checks and balances, and of course, the most anti-democratic notion of all, “inalienable rights endowed to us by our creator”.
The idea was to moderate the depredations of the majority.
And the “political party” was one of the influences that moderated the passion of the mob. And with all their faults, they worked pretty well in American party politics. Until “democracy” took over.
It is a little ironic that at the very moment when railing against the “establishment” of either party is so very fashionable, the parties are in fact shells of what they once were. To the extent that there is a Republican-party establishment, it plainly does not have the power to, e.g., call down anathema upon a potential Republican-party presidential nominee. The day before yesterday, Marco Rubio was the anti-establishment, tea-party insurgent; today he is the establishment, if the doggie-treat salesmen on the radio are to be believed. If that leads you to believe that the word “establishment” does not actually mean anything, you are correct.
Williamson echoes a point I’ve been making (emphasis added):
It was democracy that did the parties in, of course. One of the harebrained progressive reforms foisted upon our republic is the so-called open primary, which amounts to something close to the abolition of political parties as such. If anybody can vote in the Republican primary — Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Green, independent, etc. — then membership in the party does not mean very much, and, hence, the party itself does not mean very much. Instead of two main political parties, we have two available channels for the communication of populist spite; the parties themselves are mere conveniences for political entrepreneurs and demagogues. Trump might as easily have run as a Democrat — he is a longtime supporter of Hillary Clinton and Charles Schumer, and he raves about the wonderful things the butchers at Planned Parenthood do — but the opening was more attractive on the R side.
Parties in their classic form did a decent job of moderating the mob. Not perfect – perfection is anathema to freedom, anyway – but decent.
It’s time to drop caucuses and go to a closed primary.