In Illinois, there has long been an expression which describes the relationship between the two political parties: The Combine. Chicago Tribune writer John Kass seems to have originated this expression. See, for example, this article: In Combine, cash is king, corruption is bipartisan. Kass quoted former Illinois Senator Peter Fitzgerald: “In the final analysis, The Combine’s allegiance is not to a party, but to their pocketbooks. They’re about making money off the taxpayers,” Fitzgerald said. Kass went on: “He should know. He fought The Combine and lost, and the empty suits running the Republican Party encourage their friendly scribes to blame the social conservatives for the disaster of the state GOP.” Sound familiar?
America, welcome to Illinois.
The way it works is this. The Democrat party is the senior member of the Combine. The GOP is the junior member of the Combine. The game is exactly the same, and whoever is up, or whoever is down, based on the random behavior of those rubes, the voters, does not matter. The game is always exactly the same, and the people who are in on the game, from either party, have a shared stake in defending the game.
While I'm skeptical of Grand Explanations for Everything, there's a lot of truth to this construct. It goes a long way in explaining the behavior of people like Lisa Murkowski, who won't go away even though she was dismissed by the voters in the Alaska primary, as Green notes:
Lisa Murkowski’s family, and her career, exist because of the Combine. Her interest is in preserving the existing game. She is preserving her stake and her family’s stake in a game they have benefitted from. There is no mystery about this at all. There is no need for psychiatry to understand why she is trying to stop Joe Miller. He threatens the game. It has nothing to do with the label “Republican.”
If you want to understand why the Tea Party exists, and why the Murkowski family is especially antagonistic toward it, this is why.
And the Combine is bi-partisan. We have our own portside version of Lisa Murkowski right here in New Brighton, Rep. Kate Knuth. There's a lot more to be said about this. More to come.