By Nathan Barton
Almost all organizations have certain rites of initiation, requiring people joining to do certain things. Sometimes, it is just a membership fee or dues, or even just identifying with the group. Other times it is an elaborate process of applying, being vetted, being approved, and then formal rituals to become members.
This is especially true of gangs, which virtually always have complex processes. These often involve a great deal of pain (to the initiate and also others), humiliations, and demonstrating agreement with the group’s philosophy and objectives.
(What is a gang? For this discussion, gangs are groups of people who band together to prey on people. To initiate aggression against people (mostly outside the gang), usually by some form of immoral or illegal activity, but sometimes “within” the law. And also to be able to exercise power, lording it over those IN the gang while the gang does it to outsiders.)
The gang wants to make sure its new member is both in agreement with all the gang does (and wants to do). The new member wants to demonstrate that he (or she) will be an asset to the gang so that they can receive the benefits that gang membership grants. Including such things as power, protection, wealth, and all the other things that they want. (Almost always at the expense and to the disadvantage of those not in the gang.)
So the gang and the new gangster both gain from the rituals of initiation. Whether it is running a gauntlet of club-wielding gang members, going out and stealing or vandalizing something, or actually assaulting or killing someone. Sometimes that victim is a member of another gang, but often an innocent and even unknown person. How? Anything from drive-by shootings to killing a specific person or type of person. This makes a vital point to the initiate, the gang, and those they prey on.
The rites and initiations do not end just with gang membership, of course. As a person rises into positions of higher power (I hesitate to use the word “responsibility”) and prestige in the organization, there are further rites of passage. To demonstrate their capabilities and ruthlessness. And to demonstrate their continued loyalty and ability to control those lower down the ladder.
This is found in all kinds of gangs, but I want to talk about political ones now. Political gangs, sometimes called “political parties” or “caucuses,” innocent sounding terms for a vicious activity and organization. I think that political parties and special-interest groups often (not quite always) meet my definition.
This is particularly true of the American Democratic and Republican Parties. These are groups of people who have banded together – legally if not morally – to prey on others, by exercising power, gathering money to spend on anything and everything (not least of which are their own salaries and benefits). And at the same time prey on the members of their own gang – the rank-and-file, the “grassroots” and such.
(I am not saying that they originally were started and organized to do this – but it is what they have become. Whether or not they are willing to admit to it. And I am not saying that every person who accepts and wears the label of GOP or Democrat is therefore a gangster. (But they DO encourage and support the activities of those who are.) I believe it was Mark Twain (at least 150 years ago) who said that every election is an advance auction of stolen goods. He was right.)
As gangs, these parties and all their various affiliates have their rites of passage. Their methods of initiation, of becoming part of the gang. From “young Democrats” to “Republicans for life” to the various legislative and congressional caucuses. From door-hangers and phone bank volunteers to money-bag men and on up. The rituals vary considerably. And are complex, secretive (if not officially secret), and of varying degrees of nastiness. And often even more childish than the actions demanded of pledges to college fraternities and sororities.
This especially applies to the various ad-hoc grouping within the old parties. Right up to the rarefied heights of the elite “seriously” seeking their party’s nomination for Massa – for POTUS.
Woe unto those who do not submit to the various rituals. I think that one reason so many GOP types are so bitter towards Trump is that he did not go through the usual rituals of joining their gang, and rising up the ranks. Especially since for many loyal GOP gang members, the nomination to president (usually failing to win) was a reward for the years of faithful service (to the party, not the nation). And for going through all the humiliating rites.
This is even more the case in the Democratic Party. Right now the two dozen people who are wanting to get the 2020 nomination are busy going through the rituals, the rites of passage, to demonstrate that they have what it takes to rise in power in their gang – including trying to prove to their fellow gangsters that they will be able to run the bigger gang that winning will let them again control. That bigger gang? The FedGov, of course.
It is more than just “punching tickets” that they are doing. They have to be the right kind of tickets. Ones that, just like a street gang or a mafia organization, hurt people and get money and power for the gang. So there are many ritual actions and words that are needed.
Among those are many of the hot-button issues on the political agenda. Notably, abortion, guns, immigration, and of course, the Daily Hate against Trump and the people wearing different party (gang) colors than their own. Look at the latest from various of these dozen, and you will see it clearly.
And expect it to get worse. We’ve got eighteen long months to go.