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Op-Ed: The Real American Power Brokers

At what point do candidates become products rather than representatives?

Alisher Aminov

The U.S. Government appears to be more polarized than it has ever been.

The consensus amongst elected officials from different political parties has virtually been nonexistent over the last several years, and most American voters have grown tired of hearing politicians talk “big game” while accomplishing very little for the American people.

Everyone should be asking themselves – why is it so difficult to pass legislation that most Americans agree with?

Legislative items such as campaign finance reform, increased tax rates on the largest corporations, environmental protection, and mental health aid are all popular among most Americans today. Yet, our legislature has made virtually no progress in these areas whatsoever.

While most Americans probably could not name all 535 members that make up the national House of Representatives and Senate, individual members such as Senate Majority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, and House Republican Leader Kevin McCarthy tend to be household names.

Often, we look to these “key” Legislative Leaders, believing that they are the face of their respective political parties and the “gatekeepers” of legislative progress. However, we rarely look beyond these political faces to see the real power brokers that essentially call the shots when it matters most.

More than just facilitators of ideology and policy, the Democratic and Republican parties have evolved to become massive political machines that often operate outside of the direct spotlight, even though they largely control the sway of progress in the United States.

How many Americans know the names of the National Republican and Democratic Parties Presidents or other key leaders therein?

How many Americans know the Presidents of their State or Local Republican and Democratic Parties?

How many Americans understand who these people are, how they get elected, the structure of their internal bureaucracy, and the scope of political influence they yield? 

We often consider political parties to be collectives of individuals who unite behind a similar cause, who use their collective voice to cast their vision over the country by facilitating candidates and helping them get elected. While this remains partially true, the two predominant political parties in the United States of America have evolved into entities that are nothing short of massive corporations.

In March 2022 alone, the Republican National Committee reported raising $17.6 million, with the Democratic National Committee trailing closely behind with $16.8 million. That means that if the RNC and DNC were to be classified as corporations, they would individually rank as fortune 500 companies.

Considering the flow of campaign finance dollars, the Democratic and Republican parties ultimately have their grips firmly on the pulse of the American political system in a way that is beyond troubling.

How can we elect representatives who are principled in their beliefs if candidates are constantly at risk of losing party support and financing for bucking the party’s model at any turn?

At what point do candidates become products rather than representatives?

Americans should be terrified that some elected representatives, such as Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell, have gone so far as to suggest that their ultimate allegiance is to their party even before their electorate and personal moral code.

Considering the nature of the two-party system in the United States, a troubling reality is that often political parties, not the people, have an ultimate say over what pieces of legislation are enacted into law.

From a business perspective, the Democratic and Republican parties will never allow their “members” to vote on issues that could curtail their power or viability in the future.

Realistically, for example, if the legislature were to pass campaign finance reform, both political parties as entities would take a massive financial hit. That is why even though most Americans support legislative changes to the flow of money in and out of politics, it is unlikely that any major progress will ever be made in campaign finance reform.

Political parties have essentially become subscription-based ideological providers that draw supporters in through targeted marketing and often empty promises.

The power structure of their party drives not every Democrat or Republican, but those representatives are far and few between. However, consensus between voters and elected officials can never truly occur when there are hidden interests that ultimately control the money.

Currently, both the Executive and Legislative branches of the U.S. Government are controlled by the Democratic Party. However, leading up to 2018, the Republican Party also controlled both branches of the government in the United States.

Should the American people not be aware of who the chairs of the Republican and Democratic Parties are? Is it not troubling to know that there are power brokers who were not elected by the citizenry of America, who arguably have more power than the President of the United States?

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