Think about it. The officers of political parties are all paid. Large amounts of money are given in huge blocs by individuals and corporations. This money is invested in ads, party officer pay, and other expenses, including, often, slush funds for retiring incumbents to live off of later. Yet, no political party ever mentions this "dirty little secret." In fact, there is often a cadre of "officers" at the local and county level that ARE NOT PAID, giving the illusion that the parties are "volunteer" organizations, when, in fact, they are a mix of volunteers and paid officers.
The dirge we hear is that we should not be "buying votes." That parties are somehow above the baser motives of common man. That ideology is the glue of party organizations, not pecuniary incentives.
But, in our new landscape, where communication is lighting fast, and where many different views exist under the banners of "republican," "democrat," "conservative," and "liberal," Ideology is NOT the reason for party participation, rather, family ties, personal gain and cognitive dissonance are what keep us, generally, in our political camps.
Yet, many of us have very different opinions from our political brethren. As an example from my own life, I am deeply opposed to the Iraq war, yet, I was strongly in favor of the Afghanistan war (at least the way I believed Clinton and the JCoS were planning it), and started wondering in 1996 why the NATO/North Atlantic powers had not attacked it yet. I feel the Iraq war was a diversion of our nation's forces from a critical field of combat in Afghanistan. The failure of our military planning after Iraq is evident in the Taliban's recent successful attack on the Swat Valley in Pakistan, disrupting one of the most peaceful areas on the earth, filled with yogis etc., with a 15,000 man army that beheaded people before it, burned villages and blew up schools and shrines. This sort of multinational mercenary destruction of peaceful people (and the Taliban army is a hodgepodge of multinational mercenaries) is unacceptable, and the direct result of Bush redirecting our forces into Iraq to settle an old family score, instead of fighting our real enemy: A Muslim-based international mercenary force that fields large armies in central Asia, and destroys areas the size of Connecticut (Swat Valley) in two weeks.
But I digress. The matter at hand is the "value" of political affiliation. We talk a lot about "Taxation without Representation," and are disgusted often with how our paid civil servants seem to make decisions against our interests. Yet, we do not question that the "taxes" we pay to political organizations represent us. Victory in politics is usually measured in abstract concepts, like "changing of policy" in some department, or the election of some judge in a close race. Instead, what if victory in a political party was personal? What if getting out the vote, for example, paid out? Or if parties had mutual funds that supported their views and that could be mixed and matched, so that if you supported gun rights, but also a woman's right to choose, you could still be active as an investor in your party, and a profiteer?
For that matter, parties could disintegrate, and economic engines could drive elections, each with a series of special interests, paid members/investors, and effective sales/persuasion forces. Frankly, I think this would be refreshing for liberty and a Democratic Republic's politics. Rather then two monolithic parties, you could have multiple organizations, providing jobs, with passionate and paid operatives, supported by different businesses and individuals' monies. Some could be like my idea, The CoMiCal Hellawenic, others more conservative in presentation.
I firmly believe that political activity can be commercialized to benefit a larger segment of the population financially, without threatening free speech or free assembly. While I will never support making a person's vote "public," and strongly support the secret ballot, I do believe that there is no caveat in the Constitution that makes it illegal for ANY grouping of souls to field candidates for political office, even "independents."
I also believe that an organization that I join to elect someone to higher office should also ask my opinion on matters concerning policy. I do not wish to be just told: "this is how to think." I think an effective political organization can represent more then one position (though not diametrically opposed ones). My political organization, should it form, will introduce regular polls to ALL it's members concerning their ideas and positions.
Political organizations that are fat with cash should have three major programs that are always running:
1.Reason Training. I'll admit, I'm not even the best reasoner. I think Political parties should provide mind strengthening games and pay out the people who show the most aptitude to solving complex problems. Then, we should hire them to help us make systemic decisions for our organizations.
2.Civics Training. Anyone who is involved in politics should be intimately aware of the government mechanisms around them (zoning boards, police oversight, etc.). Political organizations should educate folks about these government departments and invite people to attend their meetings. They should have a reward system for folks that attend these meetings, and it should be ok for more then one group to reward that attendance.
3.Muckraking Agents. Political organizations should be in the business of investigative journalism (as they are in Europe). This would make for more intelligent political actors in general.
If we had an organization like this, we would be getting paid out for our investment of time and money in real time personally, rather then in some abstract "political victory," and I think our Republic would be better off.