If those questionable ways are legislated out of existence, the parties will find new, even more questionable ways of raising funds. As an example, I give you McCain-Feingold over here.
I'm afraid you're probably right. Political funding is a swamp we'll never drain.
Our government was apparently designed to discourage political parties, yet the most they could do, in practical terms, was boil them down to two -- Jefferson's Aristocrats and Democrats. He felt there would always be folks that believe power should be concentrated in the right sort of hands and an opposing faction that thinks the common clay offer a safer, if not wiser, alternative.
Over here, parties have risen, had their day, and passed into obscurity, invariably with new ones taking their place. The GOP appears to be in its death-throws, right now, and the complete and utter dysfunction that reigns in the House is a taste of the legislative anarchy we might have without political parties, I suspect.
Democracy seems like such a good idea, but in practice? Meh!
It's like no matter what you chose, there's problems.
One thing to remember, between ths US and UK, parties are different...in the UK, parties have absolute power over their MPs. Vote against the party line, you may be kicked out, or at least, they'll replace you in the next election. In the US, the main political parties are more umbrella organizations of convenience, and while they often portray the Republicans as Conservative and the Democrats as either Lib-Dem or Labour....in practice, there are many factions of them (e.g. Log Cabin Republicans, Teaparty Republicans), and they vary between jurisdictions (the New York State Republicans may disagree with the National Repupblicans on something, for example)
But the funny thing is...when the US was formed, they wanted it free of political parties (as everytime the British parties quarreled, those in the colonies paid the price), but only George Washington was able to get elected without a party backing him. And originally the runner up in a presidential election became vice president....but due to a crisis involving people of different parties, they had to change the rules!
People make alliances to gain political advantage, those alliances harden and become formalised and- bingo- you have political parties. I don't suppose there's any way you can stop this happening.
Unfortunately, the alternatives are most unappealing, except when viewed from the very top.
I think the problem most of us have is a tendency to idealize the political process, only to come face-to-face with the appalling reality. In anything but an absolute dictatorship there are always compromises and those compromises are often too ugly for words. Legislation will always be an uneasy and potentially unhealthy balance between structural stability and evolutionary change, between law and order and individual freedom, the haves and have nots, and so on. Such questions can never be resolved except crudely, locally and on an ad-hoc basis.
Humans, like most other primates, being pack animals, I think we tend to group outselves into tribal lumps made up of individuals who either seem most like us, or whom we want to seem most like.
I think, abstractly, that political parties would reevolve, to spare the candidates from feeling isolated, vulnerable, and alone.
One of the problems we have at present is the British parties have become largely disconnected from the tribes they originally represented.
Yes, I think you're right. Parties would re-evolve. I don't suppose there's ever been a parliament without them.
Oh, absolutely, they have grown apart. We clearly have the same trouble here. That's one of the reasons why I agree with my boy TJeff with his assertion that --
"God forbid we should ever be twenty years without such a rebellion.
The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is
wrong will be discontented, in proportion to the importance of the facts
they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions,
it is lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty. ...
And what country can preserve its liberties, if its rulers are not
warned from time to time, that this people preserve the spirit of
resistance? Let them take arms. The remedy is to set them right as
to the facts, pardon and pacify them. What signify a few lives lost
in a century or two? The tree of liberty must be refreshed from
time to time, with the blood of patriots and tyrants.
It is its natural manure."
Hmm, yes. I think Jefferson was being a little blase about the cost of "perpetual revolution".
Definitely, and also I believe he underestimated the willingness of future generations of uncontested politicians to dehumanize and actively oppress their dissidents as well. But then again, maybe not.
I read my own spin into it, as needing a revolution or reform of sorts -- some kind of shakeup, really, -- every generation or so. And frankly, the US is really quite overdue. It sounds a bit like the UK is likewise so.
What's wrong with it all for me is that they spend all their time playing pantomime games of "yes you did," "no I didn't" i.e. in being adversarial and blaming, blaming, blaming. And that when I list out all the policies I can think of, there's not one party that agrees with me on most of the issues! And if there were, it would probably be full of corruption within a fortnight of taking office.
I'm interested in campaigns such as 38 degrees. I think now we can all be heard on line there will be far more single issue campaigns, and that a single vote every four years on EVERYTHING that we want to happen, encapsulated in one party, will begin to look rather lame and impractical.
I hope we're going to evolve beyond the present system- because it's knackered. Democracy is the best way of running society, but there must be cleaner, more efficient ways of getting it to work.