Saturday, May 22, 2010

Pondering Pennsylvania Political Participation

Sometimes I miss opportunties to at least appear prescient.  I actually drove across Kentucky last month and heard a whole local NPR piece on the now well-known Rand Paul whom I had never heard of before. I thought it was fascinating and was going to blog something, but figured it too far afield.  The only link I could toss out there was his status as a 2nd generation diasporan. That must count for something.  Does he have relatives here?  Maybe he comes to visit and is a regular at Primanti's? 

But this WSJ piece on the now infamous senate candidate reminded me of something I wonder about occassionally. The article parses the differences in political philosophies out there, differences that just don't get accounted for by only two major parties in the US. There are a lot of third parties out there, but most are small when it comes to registration, influence or public notice at all.  Pennsylvania has a whole slew of registered political parties and in the past I have counted the party registration in Allegheny County.  Beyond the D's and R's there is obviously the Green Party and of course Libertarians, although you may get an oversize impression of their activity because the ubiquitous Mark R must have his name embossed on the public lectern in City Council and elsewhere.  But that is just the beginning.  There are also registered members of the Constitution Party locally which is different from the Constitutional Party.  Do folks really make a distinction between those two when registering, or is it just a persistent typo? The Constitution party has 4 times the membership of the Constitutionals, but all recent registrations are in the latter; go figure? Who are all these folks and do either really exist any more as organized parties?  A Patriot Party has long had members on the books both locally and statewide, as does the Consumer party, though not many recent additions. Never forget the Reform Party, where is Ross Perot when you need him?  I thought someone was starting some new Trinitarian party here? What happened to that?  Maybe some of these groups are just artifacts of past hyperactive political participation? There is even a (as in singular) person a year who registers as a socialist, which is the smallest named party in the registration stats. Technically it's the Socialist Worker party which at least historically is actually more Trotskyite...  the closest active Communist Party seems to stick to the other side of the mountains,  probably because of the drubbing it took out here in the days of Matt Cvetic.  Small numbers not withstanding there was at least some evidence those folks were still around, but the Parkway Left has gone dormant so I dunno? 

and it's all more convoluted than that.....  The "all other" category of party makes up the third biggest group of registered voters, and that is distinct from those who formally register as "independent" which is itself different from those with "no party".  I'm told some of the other other parties include the Prohibition Party, which according to this web site has had its single biggest success in the 21st century here in Pennsylvania, electing a Tax Assessor in Thompson Township, Pennsylvania. Anyone have a comprehensive list of political parties in Pennsylvania?  That may be one of those lists that is almost impossible to compile.

Seems to me that however you classify the Tea Partiers, they are awfully lot more substantial than all these extant third parties in the state these days combined.  Could Pennsylvania become the first state they actually register as a formal party?


Blogger JRoth said...

The trouble with the premise of a stand-alone Tea Party is that Tea Partiers are nothing more than conservative Republicans who don't like being associated with the Republican Party that lost the last two elections. They still think, for instance, that George W Bush was an excellent president.

If the GOP were to eschew Tea Partiers, then I could see them organizing into a far-right party, but as it is, the institutional GOP embraces whatever ideas and candidates the TPers support (see Rubio in FL, one of many,many examples). There's simply no daylight between the two entities.

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