Tag Archives: politics

Democratic Party to Re-Elect Trump?

Look at the actions of the Democratic Party. This party is on course to allow the Republican majority to continue uninterrupted. How can I write this statement? Because the Democratic Party is unable to let go of its old Clinton/Sanders style arguments or even to frame a logical statement identifying Democratic Party values.
Exactly what does the Democratic Party represent? Since the election of Donald trump, the Democrats are following an old adage and allowing Trump to dig a deeper hole. However, the underlying weakness of operating without a coherent identity is disabling the Democratic Party. The Republican Party stands for low taxes, few regulations and guns. The Democrats stand for what? Where is the messaging and the continuity of message?
State and local governments decayed into Republican majorities. As Pennsylvania State Representative Eddie Day Pashinski frustratingly related to me; Democrats do not have set talking points. He said; “Ask a Republican how the weather is and you will receive a reply enumerating the horrors of Obamacare and the joys of small government.” The Democratic Party lacks that message consistency.
Representative Pashinski’s passion is healthcare. This passion developed from voter encounters across the region and state. Eddie said; “Wherever I go, I see Democratic, Republican and Independent voters very concerned about affording Healthcare coverage. The issue obsesses many, many citizens.” Now, no matter the venue, Representative Pashinski talks about the need for affordable healthcare coverage for all. Then Eddie makes a two sentence statement that incorporates what should be the Democratic Party message and mantra.

“Before we begin, there are two vital components of the solution that must be established and agreed to before any serious and long-lasting improvements can be made. These two components are the outrageous cost of health care and the total disregard for the moral element, meaning the welfare and life of the patient.”

Mr. Pashinski calls for restoration of the moral element in healthcare and other policy proposals and discussions. So too do the vast majority of Americans.
This moral element consideration resonates for the majority of American citizens including rural and metropolitan America. Is it fair; is it just? A key element of every religion and ingrained in most of humanity is the golden rule to treat others as you would have them treat yourself. The US Constitution preamble incorporates moral goals:

“We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice, insure domestic Tranquillity, provide for the common defence, promote the general Welfare, and secure the Blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity, do ordain and establish this Constitution for the United States of America.”

Both political parties lost their way, forgetting the founders’ reasons for forming this nation. Donald Trump painfully reminded them, and the world, how vulnerable they had become when he offered voters a populist message pretending that he would address the unfairness rampant in society.
Trump promised cheaper and better HealthCare coverage for more people, higher wages and better jobs, along with vast programs rebuilding long neglected infrastructure. He would make America great again by essentially restoring the moral element to government enshrined in the Constitution and much of this country’s history. It was all untrue but many American voters already in pain from low or no wages, a rapidly changing demographic and crumbling infrastructure thought it was worth the chance.
The Democratic Party and Hillary Clinton stood by the upper middle class and essentially ignored rural and poorer regions. Hillary Clinton ran for the status quo which many Americans thought offered neither morality nor change. Joan Chittister rightly identifies a “pathological individualism” infecting the body politic.

“Even a sense of the purpose of government is under fire and open to question now. At one time, the purpose of American government was seen to be a commitment to the common good, nobody excluded. Then, it became a commitment to party principles, all other principles in doubt. Now it is commitment to “America first,” a blatant call for global narcissism. And that came in the face of 200 years of presidential inaugural addresses that pledged the United States to be the good Samaritan, the new Zion or a light to the nations.”

If the Democratic Party is to succeed and to rescue the nation and the world from chaos, they must offer all Americans a moral element. Promise and deliver what actually elected Trump – a hunger for justice and fairness. Trump may be a buffoon but his promises to working America offered an element of sense that Trump long ago forgot.
Speaking to people throughout the US online and in person, here are a few comments from people:

If a corporation does not exist to improve society, it harms it.
It is wrong to bankrupt people for healthcare.
It is wrong to deny service to poor or rural areas.
It is wrong to saddle massive debt on students gaining skills desperately needed by society.
It is wrong to allow corporations to impoverish their workers.
It is wrong to not improve society and to not pay taxes.

The ‘hooray for me the hell with you’ mindset that kicks the poorest among us and denies workers even enough to eat runs in both parties. The Democratic Party, especially at the state and local level, often embraced this poison. Lower taxes, low wages, lack of investment in people or things all these actions sucked the life out of the nation and they still destroy its vitality.
The American people are crying for a mission. The Democratic Party can restore pride in politics and give Americans confidence in being treated fairly and working to rebuild and expand their future. Americans do not want to cower behind walls.

How Trump Became a Buffoon

Definition of buffoon from Merriam-Webster Dictionary

 

“1: a ludicrous figure: clown

 

2: a gross and usually ill-educated or stupid person acting like a ridiculous buffoon”

 

The ultimate dividing line of our generation was the Vietnam War. We grew up inspired by the greatest generation. John F. Kennedy’s famous statement, “Ask not what your country can do for you…ask what you can do for your country.”, rang loud in our ears. The war forced a decision upon our youth and their families. The choice was to serve, to oppose or to evade wartime service.

 

Many, originally myself included, saw our duty as answering the nation’s call to arms. Others, immediately seeing that war as an act of murky imperialism and stumbling politics, opposed the war. Many were afraid to take a stand. Interestingly, today those who are the loudest proponents of violence and war, conservative leaders like Ted Nugent, Rush Limbaugh and Donald J. Trump, chose fear over service. For at the end of the day, those who went to or supported war and those who opposed the war did so understanding service to nation was important, a citizen’s duty. The timid, frightened people who evaded service or who, with deferments in their pockets, actively supported the Vietnam War saw no duty greater than to personal needs.

 

Privileged from birth, it was during the Vietnam War period, Trump discovered he could avoid difficult times and hard work. His cocoon of wealth lacked checks and balances and enabled Donald Trump to believe himself both smarter and better looking than anyone else. At first making pronouncements based upon excellent education and then as school grew more distant and Trump more coddled, Donald Trump realized that, almost universally, his pronouncements on any subject met with instant approval and praise. Donald J Trump was always right. Ask his friends.

 

Trump acquired an army of sycophants and grew powerful in his world. When you surround yourself with an army of sycophants, you can only grow into a buffoon and bully. Any echo of dissent was a minority to be punished then ignored. The result for poor Donald Trump was a false reality where he is always correct and his tough decisions always right. If failure reared its ugly head, it was not Donald’s decision that was wrong but the information or actions of others.

 

Trump became a celebrity based as much upon his confidence and wealth than any real accomplishment. A master salesman, Trump could sell anything and walk away better off. The problem with Donald is that he did not age well. He joined his fellow aging males that make up a majority of the FOX News audience where the sound bite matters and the accuracy is not treasured. Poor Donald could well have gone to his grave believing that the rest of the world acknowledged he was the smartest man in the world. But the fatal flaw in the Donald tragedy appeared. This pitiful person actually believed his own propaganda. Pronouncements grew and support for him gained as well. Before long this person found himself president of the United States.

 

Donald Trump’s wild pronouncements now meet harsh reality. His ‘healthcare is more complicated than he thought’ comment was the first of what will be many a rude awakening for Donald and America. He deftly, blamed the military for the failed attack in Yemen and his lost armada. His cabinet is designed to destroy federal competency in every area including the military. Charlatans such as Sessions know how to feed Trump’s ego and prejudices while executing their own agenda, for Trump is an easy mark.

 

Sadly, the generals and admirals have yet to tell him just how complicated it is to maintain global military superiority. It has little to do with the number of ships and troops. National strength is a complex and nuanced mixture of education, health, science and economics developed into the correct matrix of soft and hard power.

 

The Trump budget jeopardizes national security. More proof Trump and his gang lack all knowledge of the elements of national power. An unhealthy nation is a weak nation. An uneducated nation is a weak nation. A weak economy means a weak nation. A nation lacking reliable allies is a weak nation. A nation that does not fund science and all types of research is a weak nation. The demise of both the Soviet Union and the Ottoman Empire demonstrate clearly that military size does not matter.

 

The Trump budget is a rehash of the old Soviet Union budget where the vast economy was directed toward the military. The Trump budget weakens America and places her at risk. Donald Trump and his advisors are ignorant, incompetent or both. Serious damage is being done. Buffoons are seldom aware of their gullibility or ignorance.

 

 

Trump – Owned by Putin?

It is not only people with government and international experience that do not ‘believe in’ coincidence when it comes to political power struggles. The global community is beginning to catch on. My online comment on a New York Times article on March 7th, “WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents” drew over 1100 likes. I wrote: “Russia and WikiLeaks are trying desperately to prevent exposure of their best asset: Donald Trump.” My statement was pure supposition but every indication points to its veracity. Without thorough investigations, at least on the scale of Benghazi, the taint of treachery and treason will continue to damn the Trump Administration.

Judging both actions and timing, there can be little doubt remaining that Russia and Wikileaks are attempting to save what they see as their prime asset – Donald Trump. The building heat of exposure caused by the firing of General Flynn, his head of National Security, and the recusal of Attorney General Sessions forced an apparently panicky Trump to recklessly accuse former President Obama of illegally tapping his Trump Tower “wires’.

In an analysis piece entitled “WikiLeaks delivers again for Donald Trump with dump of CIA secrets” The Sidney Morning Herald notes:

“Trump has been infuriated by a torrent of leaks from across government, but especially from within the intelligence agencies on investigations into links between himself and his election campaign team with Russia.

In July 2016 WikiLeaks became a controversial player in the US presidential election when it released 20,000 embarrassing emails that had been hacked from Democratic Party computers, creating uproar on the campaign trail.

Speaking at the time from Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has taken refuge for years, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange denied early suspicion that the Russian government or its agents were responsible for the DNC (Democratic National Committee) hacking – but the combined US intelligence agencies concluded that the hacking was part of a multi-pronged Kremlin plot to help Trump win the election and to discredit US democracy.”

Repeatedly since Donald Trump began running for president, WikiLeaks and Russia acted to bolster the possibility that Trump would become president. Within an hour after release of the Trump ‘on the bus tape’, WikiLeaks released a massive dump of the Podesta e-mails to soften the impact of the Trump exposure. Trump was forced to fire his first campaign manager, Paul Manafort because of deep ties to Putin and Russia. Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was awarded the Russian Order of Friendship in 2013 for his close ties with that country and Putin. New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, provides ten reasons for growing global concerns about the Trump Administration and the Russians in a March 9, 2017 column; “Connecting Trump’s Dots to Russia”.

With the exposure of Trump appointees actually misleading Congress concerning meetings with key Russian officials, Trump appeared to panic and behave even more erratically. His charge accusing former President Obama of high crimes and misdemeanors was so irrational as to draw criticism from even his supporters.

Trump allies reacted with an all-out effort to distract and dilute the increasing news and accusations concerning Trump’s possible collusion with Russia. In less than one week, a new immigration ban was issued; the Republicans in Congress rushed out their clearly uncoordinated healthcare bill and finally, WikiLeaks released its stolen CIA e-mails.

Any single issue would be enough to tie up the news cycle for some time. Together they form a flood of information almost certain to wash away most of the increasingly serious news concerning Trump and Russia. This flood will not stop. WikiLeaks pointedly stated that they have much more CIA information to be released. Watch for a steady stream of leaks when, and if, Russia continues to be a serious topic.

Look no further for Russia’s rationale in supporting WikiLeaks and Trump than Trump’s current cabinet and economic and political policies. No matter if deliberate or not, no foreign actions could be developed to weaken the US militarily or economically better than Trump’s current agenda. Even Trump’s stated goal of dramatically increasing military spending weakens the United States’ defenses at home and abroad. His pledge to increase the number of nuclear weapons, planes and ships amounts to squandering vast sums of money for no real military gain and with increased risk. Following nearly two decades of war, the military requires both stability and serious threat analysis; Trump’s policies deny both.

Gutting foreign affairs budgets plays right into General James Mattis’ warning; “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.” Trump’s oft stated pledge of America First causes allies to doubt our reliability. Staffing the EPA leadership with climate deniers (politically correct speak: climate skeptics) guarantees that the nation will be unable to advance protective and proactive steps to prepare for the very real changes we are facing. Nearly every senior position in many departments from the Education to Housing and Urban Development are being staffed by senior individuals openly hostile to the agencies’ mission.

Donald Trump is literally dismantling our capabilities to react to epidemics like Ebola or weather catastrophes like Katrina and much more. Little or no planning will be done and our country’s ability to defend itself and its allies will noticeably decrease. The United States is literally being attacked from within and without while the Republican Party plays internal power games and blindly shuffles along.

President Donald Trump’s actions betray a deliberate intent to harm real US capabilities and strength. Congress and US investigators must determine quickly if it is treason or incompetence. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks and Russia continue their assault on the United States without counter.

Trump’s WikiLeaks and Russia Support

It is not only people with government and international experience that do not ‘believe in’ coincidence when it comes to political power struggles. The global community is beginning to catch on. My online comment on a New York Times article on March 7th, “WikiLeaks Releases Trove of Alleged C.I.A. Hacking Documents” drew over 1100 likes. I wrote: “Russia and WikiLeaks are trying desperately to prevent exposure of their best asset: Donald Trump.” My statement was pure supposition but every indication points to its veracity. Without thorough investigations, at least on the scale of Benghazi, the taint of treachery and treason will continue to damn the Trump Administration.

Judging both actions and timing, there can be little doubt remaining that Russia and Wikileaks are attempting to save what they see as their prime asset – Donald Trump. The building heat of exposure caused by the firing of General Flynn, his head of National Security, and the recusal of Attorney General Sessions forced an apparently panicky Trump to recklessly accuse former President Obama of illegally tapping his Trump Tower “wires’.

In an analysis piece entitled “WikiLeaks delivers again for Donald Trump with dump of CIA secrets” The Sidney Morning Herald notes:

“Trump has been infuriated by a torrent of leaks from across government, but especially from within the intelligence agencies on investigations into links between himself and his election campaign team with Russia.

In July 2016 WikiLeaks became a controversial player in the US presidential election when it released 20,000 embarrassing emails that had been hacked from Democratic Party computers, creating uproar on the campaign trail.

Speaking at the time from Ecuador’s embassy in London, where he has taken refuge for years, WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange denied early suspicion that the Russian government or its agents were responsible for the DNC (Democratic National Committee) hacking – but the combined US intelligence agencies concluded that the hacking was part of a multi-pronged Kremlin plot to help Trump win the election and to discredit US democracy.”

Repeatedly since Donald Trump began running for president, WikiLeaks and Russia acted to bolster the possibility that Trump would become president. Within an hour after release of the Trump ‘on the bus tape’, WikiLeaks released a massive dump of the Podesta e-mails to soften the impact of the Trump exposure. Trump was forced to fire his first campaign manager, Paul Manafort because of deep ties to Putin and Russia. Trump’s Secretary of State, Rex Tillerson, was awarded the Russian Order of Friendship in 2013 for his close ties with that country and Putin. New York Times columnist, Nicholas Kristof, provides ten reasons for growing global concerns about the Trump Administration and the Russians in a March 9, 2017 column; “Connecting Trump’s Dots to Russia”.

With the exposure of Trump appointees actually misleading Congress concerning meetings with key Russian officials, Trump appeared to panic and behave even more erratically. His charge accusing former President Obama of high crimes and misdemeanors was so irrational as to draw criticism from even his supporters.

Trump allies reacted with an all-out effort to distract and dilute the increasing news and accusations concerning Trump’s possible collusion with Russia. In less than one week, a new immigration ban was issued; the Republicans in Congress rushed out their clearly uncoordinated healthcare bill and finally, WikiLeaks released its stolen CIA e-mails.

Any single issue would be enough to tie up the news cycle for some time. Together they form a flood of information almost certain to wash away most of the increasingly serious news concerning Trump and Russia. This flood will not stop. WikiLeaks pointedly stated that they have much more CIA information to be released. Watch for a steady stream of leaks when, and if, Russia continues to be a serious topic.

Look no further for Russia’s rationale in supporting WikiLeaks and Trump than Trump’s current cabinet and economic and political policies. No matter if deliberate or not, no foreign actions could be developed to weaken the US militarily or economically better than Trump’s current agenda. Even Trump’s stated goal of dramatically increasing military spending weakens the United States’ defenses at home and abroad. His pledge to increase the number of nuclear weapons, planes and ships amounts to squandering vast sums of money for no real military gain and with increased risk. Following nearly two decades of war, the military requires both stability and serious threat analysis; Trump’s policies deny both.

Gutting foreign affairs budgets plays right into General James Mattis’ warning; “If you don’t fund the State Department fully, then I need to buy more ammunition.” Trump’s oft stated pledge of America First causes allies to doubt our reliability. Staffing the EPA leadership with climate deniers (politically correct speak: climate skeptics) guarantees that the nation will be unable to advance protective and proactive steps to prepare for the very real changes we are facing. Nearly every senior position in many departments from the Education to Housing and Urban Development are being staffed by senior individuals openly hostile to the agencies’ mission.

Donald Trump is literally dismantling our capabilities to react to epidemics like Ebola or weather catastrophes like Katrina and much more. Little or no planning will be done and our country’s ability to defend itself and its allies will noticeably decrease. The United States is literally being attacked from within and without while the Republican Party plays internal power games and blindly shuffles along.

President Donald Trump’s actions betray a deliberate intent to harm real US capabilities and strength. Congress and US investigators must determine quickly if it is treason or incompetence. Meanwhile, WikiLeaks and Russia continue their assault on the United States without counter.

Trump – Gangland Rules

Long ago, I was a policeman both in Scranton, Pennsylvania and upstate New York. Even in the distant sixties and seventies, gangs and the ‘mob’ were realities of urban life. In my travels around the globe, I encountered areas where criminals and their fellow travelers operated and sucked the prosperity out of an area.

In Northeastern Pennsylvania, where I grew up, mob corruption is fairly well documented in the book, The Quiet Don by Matt Birkbeck. The economic impact of criminal activity is long lasting and still affects the area. Talk about the high cost of government and taxes; you have seen nothing compared to the high costs imposed by the corrupt.

Gangland Rules:

During his campaign, Trump mirrored the loudmouth politicians and public figures that fronted for mob leadership. Donald Trump acts as if he is the boss and in charge. We shall find out. However, based upon both my observations and experience, here is what the world can expect from a Trump Administration.

1. Lying at each and every level. Even the cabinet members will never know what is happening or coming next. Lies are the coinage of mob and gang power. We saw this during the campaign in Trump’s conflicting lies on Iraq war support. Being the boss means never having to say you are sorry or you made a mistake.

2. Absolute obedience to the boss is required. Every member of the gang is expected, without excuse or exception, to attack any opponent. All orders must be obeyed without question. Rewards will be dribbled out to followers slowly and never with any certainty. Trump’s cabinet appointment testimonies display an admirable independence. Many will soon hear the infamous, “You’re Fired”, or they will surrender all independence.

3. Fear of retaliation, public or private, will threaten every waking moment for his gang and the public. All perceived slights or insults will bring immediate punishment to them and theirs. If they have family, they too will be punished by association through loss of employment or business. Revenge and retaliation will be the normal mode of operation as in the recent Meryl Streep and Representative John Lewis incidents. No person can be allowed to display courage or resistance unscathed.

4. Foreign Policy will be based upon the gangland rules of fear and dividing up turf. Trump may extend professional courtesy to Putin as another ‘strong leader’. Trump does not understand much but he does understand power and apparently fears Putin for being the ‘real man’ that Trump knows he is not. Expect Trump to deal with nations as any mob boss would deal with rival gangs – submit or face retaliation.

5. Every transaction must benefit the leader. Those benefits should be hidden from view. The reason for the hidden tax returns and numerous corporations and business ties is to hide what lies beneath. With too much power, the leader develops no discipline and many whims and phobias. However, this weak man fears being dethroned and will become ever more erratic when confronted with competition.

Countering Gangland Rules:

1. Never, ever accept a favor or benefit from a gang leader or his lieutenants. One tiny favor will cost you dearly. Few have ever avoided the slippery, slimy slope that follows. You will owe them and you will pay dearly.

2. Just as cockroaches hate the light, mob bosses and gang leaders fear public scrutiny. Trump and his associates are the same. Here is the reason Republicans tried to weaken house ethics and Reince Preibus threatened the ethics chief on public television. The future of the nation and our alliances will depend on information, congress and the press. Without brave and courageous people in elected office, the nation will be seriously and perhaps irreparably damaged.

3. Strength matters; gangsters are cowards whose pettiness and unpredictability are notorious. Mob and gang bosses love strength and threats as long as they can remain immune. We must steal their immunity and target both the minions and leaders openly and loudly. Use the courts and legal system as they do – often. Mob boss power rests upon illegal acts. These bosses will use the courts to tie up and cost opponents dearly. Citizens and governments must confront threats directly with politics and the justice system. It is no mistake that Trump attempts to delegitimatize the press, the intelligence community and private citizens; he fears all of them.

4. Successfully corrupt bosses will co-opt the legal system from police to lawyers to judges with subtle threats and offers of ‘generous’ financial gain through the use of retainers or business partnerships. When confronting mob bosses, always demand over the top concessions; bosses will lie, cheat and generally not fulfill any agreements without constant pressure and confrontation. While Putin and the Mexican gang bosses offer the choice of silver or lead; US political corruption seldom resorts to this crude choice of take a bribe or be shot.

With a Trump Administration, the United States government appears to be going under new rules, gangland rules. The taxpayers will pay dearly. The nation’s safety will be weakened. The extent of the damage and the costs will be determined by how well the media, the politicians at local and state level and citizens force action at every level. Mob and gang bosses are defeated by strength and the resolve of honest people. Will the majority of Americans fight back or surrender?

Democratic House Needs Cleaning

The Democratic Party failure did not begin with this election. For decades, party poohbahs have been protected behind old barriers of power. Revamp the Democratic Party right down to the county level. Time to put someone in charge of the party who fosters drastic (correct word) change at the state and local levels. This change must include establishing local rules to force maximum inclusiveness right down to the real grass roots. Replace non performing old leaders and failed coalitions with new leaders whose younger ideas have been stifled too long.

For decades, state and local levels of the Democratic Party failed to act, allowing Republicans to rule at the state level. How many states have Republican legislatures and governors? For years, the party has moaned that the Democrats don’t turnout in off year elections. They never asked why or what leadership was required to organize them to show up in off years. The surprise this election is that this failure was so long in coming.

Is it time to organize alternative approaches to the parties at the local level? In primary elections, citizens should select slates of candidates offering real solutions to real problems. Such actions would force the parties to change or become historic relics. Conservatives swamped a Republican Party that opposed Trump, many right down to election day. If national leadership is too slow or too resistant to change, the local voters must act. They did in this Presidential election.

As always, big elections are about ideas. At the very root of the grass roots, the Democratic Party had no ideas other than the status quo. Party leaders sat around year after year, as they lost state legislative seat after seat with governors to follow. Growing fat and lazy on their union and old people laurels, many local parties ignore everyone else. The irony is that the union base was voting ever more Republican. The successful county party will address and solve LOCAL issues. Currently, many local parties ignore the local issues, or worse, are invested in them.

Now is the time to organize people of all persuasions locally and within the states. Howard Dean got this idea part right with his fifty state strategy. However, seeds need fertile ground to sprout and many county Democratic and Republican local parties are far too insular to contain the least bit of fertility. Low turnout in midterms is dramatic proof of this reality and the results are disastrous. Change will come and the grassroots are where this change must develop, if necessary, without the political parties. Most often successful elections are about ideas. Begin to organize locally around developing solutions to the most pressing local challenges facing citizens. Ideas and solutions matter. The party or group providing them will prevail.

One promising approach is local people, including many individuals who actually donated time and energy to campaigns, organizing online and on the ground. Millennials and people who came out and knocked on doors can form a powerful group to drive change. People like this can identify three big issues facing their community or county; develop workable solutions to those issues that appeal to a majority and energize voters to show up at the polling stations.

Armed with these powerful tools, groups can recruit strong candidates for state and local offices to contest primary elections while offering workable solutions to real problems. The size and enthusiasm of the voter group should deliver winning majorities at the polls. Increased voter turnout and high quality elected candidates dedicated to actually solving real problems facing citizens should provide good government.

Where do the political parties fit into this approach? They are the tools. The issues based groups use party primaries to run candidates for offices where no candidates exist or to challenge candidates who refuse to develop real solutions to real problems. Political parties should remain completely neutral in primaries. If an incumbent or favored candidate cannot win in a primary, they are unlikely to long prevail in an open election. If the political party backs a candidate in a primary, large enough groups of organized people taking coordinated action can nullify the party support.

Change must come and here is a pathway toward making political parties responsive to local voters and improving government.