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Gaining Political Power

The idea of gaining state power is not an idle fancy. Someone already controls the government. Let’s see how they did it and do likewise.

For the smaller political offices, candidates can get elected by meeting voters personally and talking with them. They can walk the blocks of neighborhoods in their district and knock on doors. Voters tend to vote for someone with whom they have a personal connection.

Because voters will not make an effort to learn much about the candidates for lesser office, party affiliation is important. Endorsements by well-known community organizations are important. These organizations and parties are brand names with which the candidate is associated. Lawn signs and newspaper advertisements put the candidate’s name out in public.

Once a candidate is elected to public office, he or she becomes associated with certain events and activities related to the office. The media will cover some of those events. The public thus becomes acquainted with the holder of an office through news coverage. If the public official decides to run for a “higher” office, voters will credit that person with experience.

Our focus here is on the higher offices. Candidates for the governor of a state or for President of the United States cannot win simply by old-fashioned “shoe leather”. Such candidates need to have campaign organizations. They need party endorsements. They need money to advertise on radio and television.

Presidential elections today tend to be won by the candidate with more money and television commercials. The commercials are crafted by media experts who know what messages sell. Unless political candidates are independently wealthy, they must raise money for these commercials from well-heeled individuals and groups. By and large, such donors expect something in return when the candidate is elected to office.

An Opening?

Assuming that readers of this website do not have enough money to play the big-media game, what opening does the present system afford us? Not much. Commercial interests wanting to be paid control the big media. If you cannot afford to pay for a message, it will not reach the public. In that case, you will probably not be elected to public office.

But this is not the whole story. Communication, not money, establishes the connection with voters. Communication can take place in various ways. If a candidate cannot afford big-media advertising, communication through small media is an option to consider.

Gold Party proposes to communicate internally within its own organization. The party might publish newsletters or own a newspaper. It might create programming on cable television, in streaming programs on line, or in Pod casts. While audiences would be comparatively small, the message would get to the right people. The cumulative effect of such messages delivered through various media over an extended period of time could equal the impact of big-time television advertisements.

Such messages delivered by small media might even have an advantage. Whereas television commercials are directed to a large but politically neutral audience, consumers of party-oriented media would be predisposed to favor messages received from organizations to which they belong. The public knows how television ads manipulate people with their slick messages. Small-time media would have more credibility. They would be seen as coming from people rather than from Madison Avenue.

Building the Party, some examples

The scheme of party-owned media assumes the creation of a political party large enough to support such an enterprise. It assumes an audience whose opinions translate into electoral victories. How are political parties created?

The Republican Party, founded in the 1850s, seized upon the issue of slavery. Abolitionists had created a climate of opinion favorable to the anti-slavery cause. The Fugitive Slave Act angered people in the North. Tensions between pro-slavery and anti-slavery representatives in Congress led to political division. The southern states seceded from the Union, Abraham Lincoln was elected President, and the nation became embroiled in a bloody Civil War. It took the North’s victory in that war and the martyrdom of President Lincoln to put the Republican Party in a dominant position.

Adolf Hitler built the Nazi Party by different means. Hitler was a charismatic personality with a gift for public speaking. He skillfully exploited the German people’s dissatisfaction with conditions in the aftermath of World War I. First there was hyperinflation; then, a severe economic depression. As governments of the Weimar Republic seemed unable to cope with such problems, the Nazi party grew stronger. Finally the president of the German Republic called upon its leader, Adolf Hitler, to become chancellor. Once in charge of the government, Hitler ruthlessly consolidated his power. World War II brought an end to the Nazi regime.

The communist party, on the other hand, gained power after a half century of ideological agitation. First came the labor movement, centered in trade unions. Then Karl Marx and his colleague, Friedrich Engels, promoted the idea of communism in their writings. This labor-centered ideology combined history, philosophy, and religion with the self-proclaimed “science” of Marxist economics. Its followers organized themselves internationally. Lenin, leader of the Russian Marxists in the Second International, returned to Russia from Switzerland in 1917 and rallied the Bolshevik Party. This party seized political power in Russia through armed insurrection, exploiting the weakness of the Karensky government.

To summarize, then, successful political parties need at least two things:

First, they need an immediate crisis which motivates people to join the party. That crisis could be dissolution of the Union, as in the case of the Republican Party; the German people’s lingering bitterness at defeat in World War I, as in the case of the Nazi party; or the devastation of World War I and overthrow of the Czarist government, as in the case of the communist party in the Soviet Union.

Second, they need an effective leader to deal with the crisis. The Republicans had Abraham Lincoln, a political genius. The Nazis had Hitler, with his oratorical skills. The Communists had Lenin, a seasoned ideologue who had attracted a core of like-minded followers.

What does Gold Party have? It has a slow-boiling crisis. The Bush-Cheney administration provided that. The nation's financial system fell into disarray. There was a major problem with home foreclosures and falling housing prices. Congress appropriated $850 of taxpayer funds to bail out irresponsible banks. Then the stock market plunged. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan took their toll. Because of tax cuts and unrestrained spending, the federal budget racked up huge deficits. There was also a large and growing trade deficit. Then, under Obama, we saw an American diplomat murdered in Libya. Snowden's leak disclosed that the government was spying on its own citizens. Obama care was incompetently managed. Public opinion polls show low approval ratings both for the President and the Congress.

What about an effective leader? That remains to be seen. Gold Party as yet hardly exists. Who knows if anyone will rise to the challenge if it gains power?

The System of Unequal Voting

The idea behind Gold Party is to try another approach to political organizing. In the absence of a charismatic leader, a political party might also thrive if it provides the right incentives for ites members. In particular, its operation might mimic the workings of money. A political party, even lacking a gifted leader, could maintain itself and flourish by a system of incentives that motivate people to work hard and contribute to the group.

The proposal here is for a system of weighted voting based upon the number of membership “points” which a member has received. Each member of this political party would receive a number of points based upon the contribution to party objectives. It would be like employees of a business firm receiving a unequal pay for their work. Obviously the amounts of money cannot be equal for all the firm’s employees if their work contributions differ. Neither should the votes of a political party be equal if the members are unequally contributing to advancing its interest.

Voting at party functions would take place according to each member’s number of points. How would the points be determined? See the proposed system of voting on another page.

Despite those requirements, party membership would not be onerous. Membership in Gold Party would not entail a commitment to support any particular candidate. One could be a Democrat, Republican, or member of another existing party and also a member of Gold Party. The level of annual dues could be anything from one penny to five thousand dollars.

Some details of this scheme need to be worked out. Computer software needs to be written that can quickly and conveniently handle the calculation of points assigned to individual members.

A Pyramid Scheme?

The idea of awarding Gold Party points for recruiting other members (especially in some of the fancier schemes that are possible) may resemble a pyramid scheme. Recently, one of Minnesota's top business leaders was found to have engaged in such a scam. He is in jail but the U.S. Senator to whose campaign he contributed financially has, to the best of my knowledge, not returned the contribution.

We are all familiar with chain letters. The letter, sent to us by a friend or acquaintance, contains a list of four names. It instructs us to send a certain sum of money to the person at the bottom of the list, remove that person’s name on the list, put one’s own name at the top of the list, and then send copies of the letter to five friends. The letter assures us that, if we and the others in the chain all follow instructions, money will soon start pouring in. And it is true. That would happen if everyone listed in the letter followed those instructions.

The problem, of course, is that not everyone does follow the instructions. They may be reluctant to involve friends in the scheme. People know, at least instinctively, that the proposal cannot sustain itself because a community has a finite population. As the number of letters increases exponentially, the chain letter runs out of people to keep the chain going. The population becomes saturated with this letter.

Chain letters, Ponzi schemes, and multi-level distributorships or “pyramid” organizations all share this characteristic. They are good for the initial “investors” but bad for people down the line. However, there is no doubt that such schemes motivate many people.

Curiously, the dynamics are different in a “political pyramid”. In this case, you populations to become saturated. While it’s true that the early participants have an advantage with respect to acquiring points, the name of the game is to take over the government. As the process of recruitment continues, the party grows in size. Eventually it is able to command a majority of votes in elections. Then those points become real. Once the U.S. population becomes saturated with Gold Party members, its political objectives come within reach.

Are these Gold Party points real?

One’s immediate impression might be that political “points” are simply fictitious. “Votes” awarded for use in Gold Party’s internal affairs are meaningless distinctions. They acquire real meaning only if the party is able to take over the government. The possession of state power is a carte blanche to exercise other kinds of power. It trumps all other arrangements based on money. So, if you think money is real, this other kind of power is real as well. But it cannot be exercised unless someone takes over the government.

Until then, this system of points is merely a way to organize and manage political activity. The owners of Gold Party are essentially the owner of a political brand name. But brand names are important.

Also, the point system would create a party hierarchy. A point-rich "aristocracy" would emerge. From this group would come persons of merit whose voice would command respect at party meetings. So if we are looking for party leaders, this is where they might be found.

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