Musings —04.03.2016 08:33 AM—
The proposal, adopted Saturday by the party’s national board during a three-hour meeting with the prime minister in Halifax, would do away entirely with the long-held principle that only dues-paying, card-carrying members are entitled to take part in party activities.
Indeed, there would no longer be any party members. Instead, anyone willing to register with the party — for free — would be eligible to participate in policy development, nomination of candidates, party conventions and the selection of future leaders.
That’s not a membership – that’s a mailing list. Sorry.
The biggest concern, I think, would be that a political party would become much more susceptible to special interest takeovers. We saw that happen in the 1990 Liberal leadership race, when thousands of pro-life types propelled Tom Wappel to third place in delegate totals (Sheila Copps only achieved nominal third place on the single ballot in Calgary when worried Jean Chretien delegates rushed to support her to deny Wappel the bronze).
That sort of special interest takeover didn’t happen in 2013, I suspect, because very few expected the Liberals to vault from a distant third place in the Commons to first. That likely won’t be the case when Trudeau departs: power attracts, like a bright light attracts bugs.
When single-minded outsiders want to take over a political party – and when they’re given the means to do so, as here – they will mobilize. And the consequences can be serious.
If you don’t believe that, I encourage you to cast your eyes South, to what will soon be referred to as “Donald Trump’s Republican Party.”