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The Final Push for Power
In all likelihood, the second phase of Gold Partys rise to power will be quite different from the first. The first is a prerequisite for successful execution of the second, which involves taking the reins of government.
Initially, Gold Party will have no serious chance of winning elections. Its internal points will seem meaningless. They begin to have value as the party approaches its goal of taking over the government. Once government power is achieved, all else becomes possible.
The first phase
Therefore, let us content ourselves with the fact that in the first part of its history, Gold Party will be little more than an organization which seeks to grow. If will also, of course, be a social and cultural vehicle for its members. It will deliver a certain life experience. Gold Party will also give Americans a sense of light at the end of the political tunnel. This scheme offers a realistic means of taking back government power in America - giving it back to average citizens - if the organization grows to a sufficient size.
Gold Party will grow through communication, both internally at its meetings and through media of external communication which the party manages. With a little bit of luck, this enterprise could become a movement. Gold Party could become a phenomenon. It is up to the energy and creative imagination of the members to make this happen. But another force driving Gold Party to growth of members would be its point system. For the first time, volunteers for a political party would receive a defined reward for their labor. This would put politics on the same footing of incentives that the business world enjoys. It would cure a fundamental weakness of democratic politics.
In the membership-building phase, people would be asked to join the party. This means filling out a membership form and paying annual dues. Membership in the Gold Party is nonexclusive. There would be no attempt to curtail membership or activities in another political party. But a certain sympathy for Gold Party ideals might be implied.
The dues for Gold Party could be anything between $.01 and $10,000. The points for membership would be based on the level of dues with a sharply declining proportionality. In other words, no one could buy his way into control of this organization. Dues paid at the higher levels reach a point of diminishing returns. Also, points would be awarded for recruiting other members and for specific contributions related to the functioning of the organization or to its communicative outreach. If this system produced a large number of persons who had signed the membership forms, Gold Party would be ready for the next phase.
The second phase
What about the prospect of seizing government power? First, it should be understood that this would be a peaceful revolution. It would not involve bloodshed or the use of force. Gold Party would assume power through the electoral process. But there is still the matter of going over the top. Success would by no means be assured in reaching that destination. All the drama and uncertainty of any political venture would be present in that phase.
What we would have at the beginning of this phase would be a large, decentralized organization. No single person or group would be in charge. Since members would vote in proportion to the points that they had accumulated within the party, the voting strength would be concentrated in a certain mass of individuals who had accumulated large numbers of points. Like any political organization, there would be a certain core of activist members who dominated the party's activities at different levels.
The party would have officers in each locality who conducted its meetings. It would have committees to award merit points to members for their contributions to the party. It would have an organizations related to running the party newspaper or other communications media. Apart from this, individual members would naturally be thrust into leadership roles by the number of points that they possessed. The party organization might extend upwards from local group to statewide committees and eventually national ones. From this largely informal power structure would come a call for Gold Party to advance from the first to the second phase.
When would Gold Party be ready for this move? One would be tempted to say that the party membership should have a significant presence in all fifty states. Who knows? Obviously, the larger the percentage of registered voters, the greater the chance that Gold Party would succeed in its bid for power through the electoral process. It is a judgment call to be made by party activists and officials when the time comes.
How to translate party membership into political power
As Gold Party prepares to translate its enrolled membership into voting majorities, certain conditions should be clearly understood: First, elections to public office would continue to be conducted according to the one person, one vote rule. Gold Partys unequal voting system applies only to its internal decisions. Second, Gold Party members would be free to cast their votes in any way they please. Membership in Gold Party does not obligate members to vote for a candidate whom the party has endorsed. It does not obligate members to go along with the party platform. Freedom of judgment remains a basic rule.
Even so, the party would have influence over the U.S. political system if it achieves a certain size of membership. Like all political parties, Gold Party would project its influence primarily as a brand name. Candidates who associate themselves with Gold Party or who are endorsed by it will tend to be supported by voters who favor the partys branded ideals. The party would also possess a structure of members who could help in campaigns.
Gold Party would enjoy an additional advantage in promising jobs to party members once it gains control of government. A certain number of government jobs can be filled through appointment. In return for its support in elections, Gold Party would seek commitments from the candidates that, once elected, they would use their influence to fill those positions with party members according to criteria based upon the party's system of points. Thus, voters who belong to Gold Party would be personally as well as philosophically motivated to vote for party-endorsed candidates.
Gold Party will, of course, be criticized by its proposed return to a spoils system. In defense, it should be pointed out that we already have a spoils system. Party hacks are often given government jobs. In this case, the political placement of persons in those jobs would be overt rather than concealed. Party members would qualify for appointment by a clear and open set of criteria: their number of points.
Such a system would, in fact, be meritocratic since merit is involved in contributing to and building up the party to a point that it can take over the government. The appointment of party loyalists to government positions would help to insure that the government bureaucracy would support the party's program of action. It would ensure that campaign promises would be kept.
Gold Party would be attempting to take over the government to put a certain program into effect. Party members, among others, would be motivated to vote for party-endorsed candidates because of the benefit which they would see for society if the program were implemented. The heart of the Gold Party program is jobs - stable, well-paying, productive jobs combined with environmental sustainability. This is a benefit that extends to the whole population. The current lot of politicians has thrown the interest of working people to the winds.
Americans are frustrated by the present system in which top management awards itself a disproportionate share of corporate income. Well-paid lobbyists extract undue tax benefits or subsidies from government. U.S. production jobs are lost by outsourcing to low-wage countries. Unless radical steps are taken, this situation is not going to change. The politicians will continue to sell out average people to increase the wealth of their contributors who may later return the favor.
At some point, then, Gold Party will play an active role in electoral politics. Its not always necessary to run its own slate of candidates. If a candidate affiliated with the Democratic, Republican, or another party is willing to commit to the party program, such a candidate could receive Gold Party support. The important thing is to change government.
Here were getting into the area of political horse trading, strategic alliances, and the like, for the sake of using politics to bring about an economic transformation. For this part to be handled successfully, Gold Party will need to have its own skilled representatives to negotiate and act on its behalf. It will need individuals to act as brokers to deal with the existing power structure.
Americans realize that politicians often make promises that they later fail to keep. Commitments made to Gold Party during election campaigns could also be broken. Isnt that a reason for supposing that this scheme of political reform is unrealistic? Yes, to a point, it would be. Public officials, once elected, have full authority to act in their official positions any way they please.
However, Gold Party as a political king maker would still have the power to punish politicians who renege on their commitments. Depending upon its degree of influence, this organization would have the power to isolate unfaithful office holders by its influence upon other officials who are sympathetic with Gold Party aims. And then there's the next election. Even the most jaded politician knows that failing to keep specific promises is not something to be taken lightly.
However, the best guarantor of success in carrying out the Gold Party program is something that the party can do even before it seeks commitments from candidates. The party is essentially about influencing public opinion. As it comes within striking distance of taking over the government, this party can hold discussions on a variety of issues. It can research and debate proposals for government put forth by the party. It can articulate and critique a vision of a better society. If the discussions take place among many people, there will be a clear understanding of issues and a strong expectation of what needs to be done. A public outcry would take place if promises related to those discussions are not kept.
The key idea is that the party agenda must be reasonable. It must be beneficial to the mass of citizens. Party members must be sincere in their belief that this program will help people, and not just themselves. This has always been the case in any effective process of political change. Lately, however, the commercial media have obscurred the discussion. By promoting direct, face-to-face communication among voters, Gold Party will smash through that barrier and achieve a great victory for the people.
Party control of the government apparatus or a new Constitutional convention?
If Gold Party expects to transform American society, it will, of course, need to elect a President who supports its agenda. It will need majorities in both houses of Congress. Being a national political force, it would also wield government power at the state and local levels. It would then be in a position to put across any kind of political change.
The party will then become the people in a real sense. It would exist for the purpose of achieving a particular transformation; and then, a burned-out shell of its former self, it could become a normal political party which nominates and elects candidates for office. Alternatively, it could go out of business once the work is done.
There is also a second way to approach the situation. The U.S. Constitution is the foundation upon which the authority of the federal government rests. This document contains procedures by which it can be amended. If Gold Party has a commanding political presence in all fifty states, Constitutional amendments could achieve whatever the existing three branches of government are unwilling to concede. Constitutional amendments could drive a stake through the heart of the U.S. Supreme Court. Whatever can thus be enacted will become, unquestionably, the supreme law of the land. For a brief time, the people would speak with a single voice.
Indeed, if there is a need, Gold Party could host a second Constitutional convention. The party could hold its own "people's convention". Members of local party organizations could elect delegates to state conventions, whose members, in turn, elect delegates to a national convention. This convention could then review the entire system of national government and propose changes. If the convention document is ratified by the states, it would become legally binding. In truth, the real law of the land is whatever people accept.
Former U.S. Senator Mike Gravel of Alaska, now seeking the Presidency as a Democrat, has been working on an approach to fundamental change which is called the National Initiative for Democracy. This political scheme allows citizens themselves to become lawmakers, directly altering their government. If half of the nations voters vote for this initiative, it can become law. Already 24 states give their residents the power to make laws through citizen initiatives.
The time is ripe
It may not be necessary to go to those extremes. More conventional remedies are available to bring about the desired changes to politics and to American society that Gold Party might advocate. The U.S. Constitution is a document revered by most Americans. Our system of government has many elements worth keeping.
On the other hand, the American people have been shocked by the deceitful and high-handed methods of the political class and by the failure of the commercial media to keep people informed. Americans are disillusioned by Republican lock-step obedience to the questionable policies of the Bush Administration and by the failure of the loyal opposition, the Democrats, to express meaningful criticism. Before the government's immense security apparatus clamps down on political expression and dissent, it's time for a mass mobilization of the people. It's time to prepare for crisis.
are, in fact, in a political crisis. Politicians of all stripes are held in
low esteem. Government itself is broadly mistrusted. It may be one of those
distinct moments in history when the impossible becomes realistic.
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