By Dan Devine
Don't Allow The Flag Below To Become Our New Flag
Unless legislative measures are passed that mandate political parties to become as transparent as private corporations, American voters will become less aware and informed about the decisions of their government. They will not realize how special interests influence public policy and thus allocate the funds obtained from taxes and other internal revenue. And the federal, state, and local budget deficits will continue to rise. Voter interests will remain subservient to special interests at the expense of the security and prosperity of all the American people.
At a time of war on terrorism that compels our public officials to secure our American values and freedoms, the status quo is unacceptable. The status quo makes the current political structure inept at addressing and cultivating vital remedies for a free and prospering society.
Currently, the private sector has taken measures that have demonstrated an improvement in the transparency of business activities in the best interest of corporate shareholders. Such measures have shown that the stronger a corporate stance toward shareholder rights and interests, the more profitable a corporation. This conclusion should be applied to the public sector and especially to political parties. It is time to empower voters with the same rights and aspirations as shareholders. Support transparency and your investment in civic empowerment will reap prosperity for all.
Transparency through full disclosure will be the core value of Transparency Power. The Power of Transparency will require timely reports to registered members political parties. Such reports will include internal revenue and budget allocations, party platforms, and government agendas. The reports will also give updates to constituents in matters of public policy, spending programs, taxes, and the office administration of elected TP officials.
As registered voters or candidate supporters, campaign contributions must be given directly to the political party and will be disclosed in annual reports to registered members of political parties. They may also choose to contribute to GOTV efforts.
The state laws governing political parties must be revamped much in the same way as corporate shareholder rights were reformed in the 1980’s. Today, the law allows the executive committee to exercise too much control over the entire party apparatus by use of the proxy. The executive committee has too much power by exploiting the present provisions of the proxy. As a result, the executive committee is not at all responsive to the concerns and interests of the voters. Instead, they are entrenched within an antiquated bureaucratic structure completely dominated by the executive committee (EC).
Similar to corporate America of years past, political parties have become monoliths of the public interest. Thus, they have shown tendencies towards corruption, unresponsiveness, and lethargy. Just as hostile and friendly takeovers incited by shareholder rights have succeeded in changing the dynamics of governing businesses through corporate law, similar changes must be applied to political parties. The executive committee must become more responsive and attentive to the will of registered party members and concerned constituents.
THE CORRELATION BETWEEN BUSINESS AND POLITICS
As stated in the “Introduction” of a study titled “Corporate Governance and Equity Prices”, featured in theQuarterly Journal of Economics 118(1), February 2003, 107-155, “Corporations are republics. The ultimate authority rests with voters (shareholders). These voters elect representatives (directors) who delegate most decisions to bureaucrats (managers).”
“As in any republic, the actual power-sharing relationship depends upon the specific rules of governance. One extreme, which tilts toward a democracy, reserves little power for management and allows shareholders to quickly and easily replace directors. The other extreme, which tilts toward a dictatorship, reserves extensive power for management and places strong restrictions on shareholders’ ability to replace directors. Presumably, shareholders accept restrictions of their rights in hopes of maximizing their wealth, but little is known about the ideal balance of power.”
In the above paper, an empirical question is asked – is there a relationship between shareholder rights and corporate performance? For the purpose of this brochure, the above is noted to make evident that such a comparison exists and has been studied to prove that democracies are best.
VOTING APATHY AND ELECTORAL CONSUMERISM
Voting apathy is basically a boycott. Voters are behaving like consumers. They are stating that the political process must be changed and that the services (dividends) from government aren’t worth their vote (investment). The Transparency Party will change the way that political parties do business. No longer should the sole objective of political parties be is to win elections. The main objective of the TP will be to serve their supporters (investors) with the most “profitability” for their investment.
Based on the laws on the books governing state political organizations, state committee people (board of directors) are rewarded for their efforts at GOTV during the gubernatorial election. They receive a weighted vote based on voter turnout (proxy) for governor (CEO). What’s needed then is to strengthen the stature of voters (common stockholders). Elections are similar to institutional investments. It is a cumulative approach to voter investment. Unfortunately, elections are now a winner-take-all game for the political parties and a lose/lose scenario for the voters.
THE LOSE/LOSE QUID PRO QUO FOR VOTERS
Imagine that every vote cast is worth one-dollar in the value of stock (official canvass for a candidate). At this time, the political market is under-valued because not all eligible citizens are registered voters. Worse, not all registered voters cast their vote at the general election. As a result, by default, the executive committee members (BOD) decide the ballot and party platform (market strategy) for the party (corporation). This creates a management centered organization, and thus in accordance to the previously mentioned study, a less profitable organization on behalf of its citizens.
Moreover, of 100% of every officially canvassed vote invested in an election (institutional investment market), at least 49.9% is wasted at the expense of voters (investors) in a winner-take-all arrangement. Worse, since it only takes .1% of the vote to win a winner-take-all election, it is conceivable that the loss of voter-wealth can be as much as 99.9%! Thus, while the power brokers and special interests continue to abscond with the public treasury by selectively squandering public funds, the allocation of public funds for 99.9% of the public (consumers) can be ignored. Subsequently, the suppliers must justify their activity and lack of productivity by seeking assistance from government through corporate welfare and grants. it idly aside to watch their wealth get wasted. Ultimately, democracy (Wall Street) suffers.
The current NYS election laws fail to provide formal guidelines for county party committees to exercise a progressive transition from the formation of the county party by a centralized executive committee to the constructive growth of the party through the democratic broadening of the general committee. As a consequence, instead of pursuing a progressive policy of increasing party membership and broadening public appeal to the platform of the party, the executive committee becomes preoccupied in litigation battles with a sole purpose to preserve its dominant role in the party by attempting to prove that its formation procedures have legitimately complied with the guidelines set forth in election law.
Unfortunately, this preoccupation is counterproductive to the democratic purpose of forming parties in the first place. The establishment of a political party is to allow voters to exercise their rights as citizens to create a conduit that better serves the interests of their party as stated in their party platforms. But instead of fostering democracy, the election laws only placate the political process by allowing self-aggrandizing interests of the executive committee to adversely intercede in the agenda of the entire party.
The Independence Party court battle is the ideal case that proves that the laws don’t compel the executive committee to organize from the bottom up. Instead, the law compels the executive committee to focus on protecting their own interests by forcing its members into expensive court battles to document the formation of the party as set forth by the rules of the state committee under the NYS Constitution.
Ideally, good laws governing county parties would focus on progressive procedures designed to facilitate the democratic development of a political model that encourages community participation in the process which ultimately results in prosperity for the community while empowering its participants to utilize the instilled democratic conduits of the party to achieve its political objectives as stated in the party platform.
Unfortunately, NYS law in it’s currently enumerated in the books only provides legal guidelines for the executive committee and gives it autocratic power over the party. It offers no stated guidelines for rest of the party body as a whole except for the committee members. Therefore, the only incentive for power is for committee members to try to build a base of registered party members that will essentially contribute money and professional services to the party that will benefit the economic stature of the members of the party.
Such economic benefits apply only to those having professional experience in the traditional fields of special interest. Other than that, the EC is in control of policy decisions, patronage, and public office opportunities. Thus, the Independence Party is demonstrating that the election laws of NYS are inadequate, debilitate true democracy in party business and must be revamped should political parties in NYS reap the benefits of the new economy as positively influenced by information technology.
The only viable solution to counter this antiquated political system of autocracy and centralized patronage is to conduct a viable electoral reform movement that will significantly revamp the state election laws. This movement will promote alternative voting methods such as those being discussed among Greens. Yet, more important, the movement will revamp the state election laws so that affected county party structures will be compelled to decentralize and thus strengthen the membership base of their support.
For example, the ongoing litigation war between the two Indy Party factions, the Jim Kapsis Crew and the Bonnie Green Group, is proving that current NYS election laws are terribly inadequate in facilitating the democratic growth of political parties. The NYS election laws also fail to empower and strengthen the democratic process within county party structures in a way that compel the executive committee to give credence and heed the voice of subordinate committee members.
Essentially, NYS Law only formally outlines the guidelines involved in establishing a state party structure and then leaves the actual establishment of county parties to the direction of the executive committee of the concerned county. In this arrangement, too much power is in the hands of the executive committee. Furthermore, there are no guidelines that outline the transitional phase from the established executive committee to a more broad and inclusive democratic body. Thus, my role in the Indy Party is basically a technical one. It is just being used as wood filler for the cracks in the big wood. The Indy Party of Jim Kapsis needs my involvement in order to give credence to his legal authority to rule the Indy Party of Nassau County.
It is very important to stress the need to revamp NYS election law to empower the members of the state and county committees. The present law only empowers the executive committee members. Thus, any meticulous broad scale effort on the part of non-executive committee members to make a difference in the local political arena can become moot by the whim of the county executive committee.
The Empire State magazine, a magazine that focuses on the political dynamics, developments and discourse occurring in Albany, New York, once ran a fascinating article documenting the autocratic design of the state legislature. It enumerated in detail the debilitating design of the state political structure. In particular, it pointed out that very little is getting done in the Empire State due to the fact that the legislative leaders have too much power.
In fact, earlier this year, one member of the state assembly attempted to unseat the Speaker of the Assembly, Sheldon Silver, by attempted to incite a coup de tat among the rank and file in the state assembly. His historic action was met with severe punishment for challenging the status quo. But more importantly, his action proved that the leadership structure in NYS is too autocratic and must be revamped. Otherwise, too few power brokers can continue to dominate the political process and thwart efforts toward more democratic forms of political participation. Worse, the promises of prosperity being provided by information technology will not be realized in NYS.
But this will be a very ambitious effort that will be met will tremendous ridicule and scorn from everyone that profits lucratively from this obsolete form of governing. Everyone involved in the current scheme includes the incumbents in office, the executive leaders in state and county parties, and the special interests that have benefited for decades from this autocratic design. After all, this autocracy has been evidently replicated from the state level to the local level as a means of guaranteeing the financing and legislative support of such traditional industrial age efforts. And not only do such autocratic dynamics persist by the overt display of power among power brokers as reported by the media, its innately self-aggrandizing and insidiously influential attributes are exercised covertly by those enmeshed in the dynamics of state and local economic development policy, a policy that is the very basis of the blueprint of this brick and mortar system masterminded by Moses.
Although this political autocracy has been deliberately created to secure the stable development of the state’s infrastructure, it’s most harmful defect lies in its establishment of a strict class structure within NYS. The godfather of this autocracy, Robert Moses, is the visionary behind this autocracy. He is acclaimed as the master architect of the New York infrastructure and the autocracy that fostered its existence. But in order to realize his vision for NYS, an autocracy was needed to securely facilitate the development of the state’s growing infrastructure. Perhaps the events of the 20th century warranted such a design. But in today’s growing decentralized economy, which is being catalyzed by information technology and its relative model attributes of diversity and grassroots empowerment and self-determination, such a design is now obsolete.
Since the inception of mutual funds, investors have been offered a highly lucrative option to gain unprecedented prosperity. They have been especially profited in the new economy. This is likely due to the positive affect the information technology has had in improving the quantification of economic analysis. Yet in order to establish mutual funds as a viable investment option, Bent had to overcome some significant obstacles. According to an article in Newsday, his model required the revamping of banking laws in order to facilitate his new financial concept. Thus, the success of Bent in business involved his arduous efforts to make fundamental changes to a system dominated by traditional banking and investment interests.
In comparison, the current Republican Party organization is based on an industrial age autocratic concept that doesn’t support the promises and prosperity of the new economy being catalyzed by information technology. Those in the GOP’s executive committee will not support the campaign of Bruce Bent because doing so doesn’t conform to their prevailing party principles. Contrary to the design of the GOP machine, the methods of Bent will essentially weaken dominant incumbent autocrats. His concepts by definition compel the decentralization of traditional power structures and to empower individuals at all levels to directly invest in his financial instruments.
Basically, the rules of the Nassau GOP designate the executive committee as the dominant body to dictate patronage to supporters and opportunities for office to party members. For decades, this has instilled a sole incentive of the EC to maintain centralized control of this bureaucratic structure to reciprocate power and prosperity among those that were loyal to the party. Historically, it has been a longstanding political model that successfully served the needs of an industrial age society that depended on a closed economic model in order to prosper. Thus, the current defects that exist within the Nassau GOP are not necessarily the fault of the executive committee. In fact, it’s very plausible that the obsolete election laws of NYS compel such a centralized apparatus to dictate county party platforms and policy. In light of such defects, the county parties are technically working within the confines of the law and are now powerless to overcome these restrictive guidelines.
In a series called “The Last Political Machine” published in 1989, Newsday detailed the GOP organization. According to the series, the GOP machine is designed just like a corporation. At the time, corporations were very centralized by having a board of directors calling the shots. Yet, the traditional dominance of the BOD was no longer profitable in an environment witnessing the promises of information technology. So investors lobbied to have laws passed which empowered them to have a stronger voice in matters concerning the BOD of the corporation.
This revamping of laws has revolutionized the corporate culture in America and has set forth a very popular view among investors that their returns on investment should be the primary objective of the BOD. Such changes have not yet been applied to the corporate concept of political parties in NYS. In light of the demands and promises of the economy as influenced by information technology such concepts of investor empowerment should also be applied in the public sector. Otherwise, taxpayers can expect the executive committees of NYS parties to make decisions in the best interest of the party EC as opposed to the best interests of ordinary voters. In other words, the same principles used to make mutual funds such a lucrative relationship between investor and entity should be applied to the relationship between voters and their public officials.
Yet, what’s just as bad as the abandonment of Bruce Bent by the GOP is the likely victory of the Democrat challenger Tom Suozzi. There are a couple of reasons for this view. First, Suozzi is a prodigy of the prominent traditional political structure that is thwarting progress and prosperity in Nassau County. Under its own rules as framed by the laws of NYS, the Democrat organization is similar to the GOP. The only difference between the two is that the Democrats have had slim pickings for patronage for decades. Thus, the basic party incentives of the Democrats are also similar to the GOP. So unless there are fundamental changes to the provisions of power as set forth by the rules of the party, both will continue to punish the county with a bad and bankrupt government that serves to support their self-aggrandizing agendas.
Second, the mayor is the son of Vincent Suozzi. His father is a partner in the law firm Meyer, Suozzi, English and Klein. According to Newsday, this law firm is currently involved in unprecedented lucrative fundraising efforts by the Democrat National Committee. This law firm was also reported by Newsday, in an August article, as having to be one of the two top firms to receive the most commercial clients involved in challenging their property tax assessments due to an unfair property tax assessment system that has been declared by the courts as unconstitutional. This flawed tax system is also the major cause of Nassau’s failing finances. Therefore, the mayor is just as much a culprit for Nassau County’s financial problems as Tom Gulotta and the executive committee members of the GOP machine.
In conclusion, the current developments in this year’s local election campaign make evident that the present political party apparatus as governed by state and local laws is obsolete and antithetical to the promises of prosperity being proven by such successful entrepreneurs as Bruce Bent. And until the election laws are revamped so that at all levels participants in the political process are empowered to profit from the experience, the taxpayers and voters of Nassau County can simply expect politics-as-usual after the election regardless of whose in office.
The election laws of NYS only cause the EC of county committees to implode by compelling its membership the make decisions in its own self-interest instead of encouraging the EC to make decisions that prompt gregarious actions that benefit the interests of the people.