The party’s over

The juxtaposition of events, sometimes seemingly unrelated, often provides the basis for commentary. We saw such an intersect this month.

Readers are probably aware that on Jan. 4, President Obama used an executive order to expand gun purchase background checks, increase enforcement of existing laws, and order more gun safety research, all without benefit of congressional action.

They may also be aware that on Jan. 11, the federal Department of Homeland Security gave state governments still opposing establishment of a national identification card (“Real ID”) another two years to comply.

After Obama’s action on guns, minor as it was, there were those who were outraged.

U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo of Idaho: “At many different levels, the President has consistently undertaken actions to undercut the Second Amendment.”

Musician Ted Nugent: “I’m just a guitar player, but I will not rest until we reverse this horrific anti-freedom trend by a freedom-hating president and a freedom-hating government overall that is clearly criminally infringing on our right to keep and bear arms.”

What interests us about this issue and the Real ID issue is that many of the faults of the two political parties and their leaders overlap regularly, but they inevitably excuse or overlook them when done by their own partisans. Nevada, for example, was saddled with a Real ID driver license because a Republican governor in 2009 ignored the action of the Nevada Legislature in killing that license. Gov. Jim Gibbons ordered it implemented with an emergency executive order—though no emergency was present, except the danger that casinos in Nevada might lose business because of reduced air travel and might take it out on the governor by reducing their campaign contributions. Gibbons was unwilling to stand up to the casinos or his own agency, the DMV, or the feds, despite the fact that President Obama himself had, as a candidate for president, opposed Real ID, and Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano had, as Arizona governor, signed a law barring the state from participating in Real ID.

These kinds of Republican/Democratic games become awfully tiresome for a populace that doesn’t much care about party politics.

Republicans know perfectly well that regulating weapons does nothing to undercut the second amendment. Indeed, the amendment contains the very words authorizing it—“well regulated.”

Democrats spent years battling presidents of both parties who arrogantly ignored Congress.

Most everyday citizens register to vote with political parties so they can vote in primary elections. Otherwise, they are mostly indifferent to the parties. But they are held hostage to these inane games that are embedded in a decades-old system that legally gives the political parties a role that is long outdated.

Why list party affiliations on the ballot, for instance? The founders made presidential electors independent, but now they are named by the parties. Who needs Democratic and Republican floor leaders? Why should party candidates get on the ballot automatically while others must petition?

There were times when the Republican and Democratic parties were vehicles for change, but no longer. Now they are obstacles to change. And it’s time that state legislatures and Congress start prying hoary old election and other laws out of the statutes that give these private organizations any official role at all.