A few weeks ago, the Republican National Committee issued a 100-page report aimed at reviving the GOP after its poor showing in last November’s elections. It was remarkably blunt about the specifics of the party’s shortcomings — its lack of inclusiveness, its hapless data initiatives, its poor grassroots organizing. What it did not take on, however, was an issue the RNC can do little about: the diminished influence, if not irrelevance, of both major parties in American politics.
In the early years of my political career, the parties were pretty much the only game in town. If you wanted to be a candidate, there was no one else to turn to for help with building a campaign organization, finding volunteers, making contact with activists and donors, or creating a network of supporters. People could and did win elections without official party support — but not often, and not easily.
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