Political Parties And Loyalty Oaths


  • Secretary of State Denise Merrill is pressing for repeal of Connecticut’s longstanding “party loyalty” law, which allows party leaders to expel a person from the party if he or she displays a lack of fidelity to the party’s core principles.  She argues, with broad support, that the party loyalty law is outdated and offensive to basic democratic principles.
  • Donald Trump—a man demagogue who shows contempt for many of the platform principles that the modern Republican party holds dear —is the leading candidate for the Republican presidential nomination. Party leaders are desperately looking for a way to prevent his nomination.

Do these two situations have anything in common? I think so.  Both raise the question, “What are political parties?”  Are they private, voluntary associations of people who come together based on a shared set of beliefs and who, therefore, should be able to exclude as members persons who do not demonstrate that they adhere to the same beliefs?  Or are parties public organizations?  A mixture of both?

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