Major political parties as the gatekeepers for corporate and controlling interests


I wrote last week that democracy is dead. I would follow up with, “as if it were ever alive.” I don’t think an open people’s democracy has ever existed, or if it has it was immediately extinguished. Our actual political process proves my point.

Not only major party candidates, but all party candidates, are selected by the party organizers. The organizers, whether Green Party or blue party or red, go out into the business community and identify potential candidates, people who have some community recognition, enough money—or time or interest—to run. People who are likeable and who can talk in fully formed sentences. Above all, they have to be people who are compatible with the party interests without rocking the boat.!/fileImage/httpImage/image.jpg_gen/derivatives/16x9_460/new-brunswick-premier-brian-gallant.jpg
Brian Gallant, New Brunswick’s fair haired boy

None of that has anything to do with you as a citizen or a voter. You don’t have a clue about what those party interests—put forward by those party insiders—actually are. You’re not privy to the back room discussions and never will be. So here’s the secret: it’s all about power.  The party insiders, with a few rare exceptions, care only about power. Their thinking is, we can figure it out once we’re in power. Meanwhile, what do we need to do or say to get there.

A lot of that doing and saying has to do with money. It takes money to win elections. So deals are made with big donors and big influencers. Party organizers meet with wealthy and influential people, and less wealthy but still influential people, to secure their support, financial and otherwise.

The first step in this game is buying the nomination. The way it works, as most people know, the candidate who sells the most memberships (usually) wins the nomination. Back in the day, when I first went to work for a mainstream political party, one of the successful candidates managed to figure out a way to mass-sell memberships online. He won handily and became party leader. It didn’t matter that his personal philosophy was in direct opposition to most of the party faithful. It mattered that he won. At least initially.

Unlike unaffiliated voters, the party faithful do matter when it comes to election time. They’re the ones who volunteer, raise money, go door to door, and get out the vote. If the leader doesn’t light up these believers, the election campaign doesn’t lift off. Which is what happened to the dude in Alberta. However, that doesn’t happen too often. Most of the party machinery is put into place to prevent interlopers with new ideas from becoming candidates or leaders. The parties are very good at creating new rules to do just that.

Down there in that nasty political quagmire we call the United States, the Democratic National Committee is performing that kind of surgery as we speak. Anyone resembling Bernie Sanders is being swept out of the party. Call it an ideological housecleaning—for very practical purposes. The wealthy and influential DNC supporters have no interest in running up populist leaders who want to tear down their power-and-control systems.

Here in New Brunswick, the Irving-run media empire controls everything you read, and a good deal of what you hear, about politics. What you will not hear or read in those news sources is very much, if anything, about the parties the Irvings don’t like: the Greens or NDP for example. What they do support is the conventional, and conveniently controllable two-party system. As system that seems to offer choice, but merely toggles the colour code from red to blue every 4 to 8 years while legislating nearly identical policies, not to mention nearly identical candidates.

Of course, people with wealth, power and influence want you to believe that, because they are smarter (because they have more wealth, power and influence than you do), they have your best interests at heart. They do not. They have their best interests at heart.

This is hardly a surprise. What is so surprising is how many of us actually fall for what they’re selling. And the reason is this: there are no other points of view allowed out there. Yes, there are political left and right debates. But they all lead back to the same elite-favouring policies. It’s all a game.

Until one or two whistleblowers make enough noise about something altogether too obvious. Like Finance Minister Bill Morneau’s personal wealth an corporate ties, and his potential conflicts of interest. And so he’ll readjust his portfolio and mumble a few apologies while small businesses pony up more taxes.

And that’s how it goes. Isn’t the democratic process grand?


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