General Question

weeveeship's avatar

Should I join a political party?

Asked by weeveeship (4660points) November 5th, 2014

I am an adult in my late 20s, and I live in the US. I have a job that requires finding clients and building a client base. To that end (networking), I am thinking of joining one of the major US political parties (GOP or Dems). For the sake of discussion only, assume that I am not interested in joining a third party (Libertarian, Green, Reform, etc.).

The political landscape near where I live is as follows: There is a Large City near where I live. Large City is dominated by Party A. I live in a suburb. Politics in the suburb are a lot more moderate, as the city council includes members from both Party A and Party B. The county I live in includes Large City and a few suburbs like my own, but because Large City takes up so much area, the county is also dominated by Party A. The state as a whole is moderate and power is divided between Party A and Party B people.

Personally, I am a moderate but my views more closely match Party B than Party A. However, given the right candidate and platform, I am willing to vote for/join either Party A or Party B.

So, my questions are as follows:
1. Given my job and my goal of networking, would it be a good idea for me to join a political party? Or would it be a waste of time?
2. If I were to join a political party, should I join Party A or B, given the political landscape I described? I am not currently thinking of running for office but may run in the distant future (e.g. 20 years from now, when the landscape may be very different).
3. If I join a political party and that party is not in power or falls out of power, would that reflect poorly on me? That is, would I be stigmatized as a member of an unpopular party?
4. How easy is it anyways for the public to find out my political affiliation, if I get one?
5. Any words of advice or personal observations you would like to share. (Please no general statements – GOP is like this or Dems are like that. But I am interested in hearing anecdotes like “One time, I went to a GOP/Dem rally and X happened.”)

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23 Answers

Here2_4's avatar

I have a hard time believing this is a serious question.
You don’t join a political party to please anybody. Your political party is all about you, and what party drives you. Which party best represents your interests? If you are not going to study the issues, and know where each party stands on the issues which matter to you, do not declare, and do not vote, please. It just mucks things for those of us who take the right seriously.
If you want to declare a party choice, then study their backing on issues, their track record in effectiveness, and which party will likely best represent your beliefs, and needs.

weeveeship's avatar

This is a serious question. I am not joining a political party to please anybody, but rather to meet new people for business and friendship purposes.

As stated, I have a slight preference for Party B. I come to this conclusion after studying the issues. On a few select issues, I agree with Party A instead. I am not a dogmatic person, but rather base my conclusions on what I think is best for the American people and my local community. Hence, overall, I am a moderate.

My concern is that joining Party B would not only not get me any new clients, leads, or friends but would also diminish my existing clients’ view of me, as Party B is not as prominent or popular in the community. Of course, this may change in the future. Again, I am not trying to please anybody, but I am being pragmatic about actually joining a political party. If all I want to do is vote, I can vote without joining either party.

My concern about joining Party A is precisely that I disagree with the majority of their stances.

So, I really have three choices here: (1) join Party A despite my differences with some of their views, (2) join Party B but risk the unpopularity of it all, or (3) join neither.

Here2_4's avatar

My answer is the same. It has nothing to do with your business clients. I am glad you have sought information on issues to help your decision, but do not include potential clients in your decision. Of course, I have no authority to force you, but it is not how you should choose your politics. I too am being totally serious. When I go to my bank to cash a check, I do not ask the teller, or the loan agents, or the CEO of the company how they vote, or what party they endorse. I just cash my check. Your politics is not about company popularity, unless you are running for political office.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

Why not consider becoming an Independent? Typically, the reason a lot of people choose to become an Independent is precisely because they don’t always agree with one party or the other and many Independents consider themselves moderate voters. In my case, it’s because I don’t want anything to do with either party, because I think they both suck – though I think Democrats suck less.

There’s nothing wrong with choosing not to affiliate, and no level-headed person will tell you otherwise. It’s also no one else’s business what party you do or don’t choose to affiliate yourself with. If people ask you anything, it should be about your opinions regarding individual topics, measure and politicians… Not what party you’re affiliated with.

As for your statement about running in the future, and your question about how easy it is for the public to learn what party you belong to, I’m not an expert, but my guess is that it’s not difficult. Typically, politicians list what party they belong to and it’s always noted by the public when they “switch sides”. I just saw someone in my voting manual listed as Democrat, Republican and Independent, which I personally didn’t like because it indicates to me they care more about who they’re affiliated with than their personal convictions, but maybe I’m wrong and it’s because they, like you, consider themselves a moderate voter.

Based on everything you’re saying I still think it would be easiest for you if you chose to be an Independent. You can always change it later if you feel you’ve made a mistake.

FireMadeFlesh's avatar

If you disagree with the party platform of Party A, don’t join them. If the public find out you’re beliefs are at odds with your affiliations, your reputation will be damaged far more than if you’re purely a member of the less popular party.

Joining Party B doesn’t sound appealing either, since their local impact isn’t great. Delay joining them until you’re ready to make a decision on running or not (but of course well before you actually run, since you don’t want to look like an opportunist). If I were you, I’d stay non-aligned, and find a better platform to network through. Maybe a local business social club, or golf club.

LuckyGuy's avatar

I would not use the political party for networking. (I also have not joined one and I am a lot older than you.) I’ve seen how people’s phones begin to ring off the hook during election campaign time once they join a party. Everyone is begging for money or your vote or both.. Also politicians are as fickle as the weather. You might get one to help you with a project – if they are somehow getting a cut.
Take the high road and find someplace else to network. I’m not sure about your business. Does your city have an Academy of Science? Join it and meet with other intelligent technical people .

gailcalled's avatar

Register as an Independent. You can vote for anyone you choose no matter how you register. I register as a Democrat where I Iive, in order to be able to vote in the primaries and attend the caucuses where nominations are made. Everyone knows everyone else’s political leaning in this town of about 1145 registered voters. The Reps. will be gleeful this week but the tide shifts back and forth, so we will chat only about our kids, grandkids, and the weather.

You can be as active or distant from your party as you feel like. Get involved, run for office, give money, host parties, help on election days (poll watch, make phone calls or drive people to the polls) or simply observe from the sidelines and vote in a thoughtful way.

zenvelo's avatar

You’re in your late 20s, so you have been able to vote for 10 years, and you are just deciding now to choose a party?

Political Parties are all about selecting representation in government. They are not for business contacts or networking unless you want political support on something. And if one is not passionate about the political landscape in your area, regardless of party, whatever potential contacts/networking you do will be immediately dismissed as a waste of time.

kritiper's avatar

No, probably not. You would find the views of either party too extreme for your own personal ones, and most people are actually Moderates, although there is no Moderate party.

Strauss's avatar

As I see it, the best reason to join a political party is to because the party supports values and candidates you support.

During the 2008 election cycle, I met a guy who did exactly that: he joined the Republican Party and did the campaign work, more for business reasons than political motivation. His thinking was that since the Republican Party seemed to be more “pro-business”, it would provide some good networking opportunities.

I ran into him a few months later, after the election, and he said the networking plan didn’t pan out, because most of the people he connected with were in “campaign” mode, rather than “business” mode.

ucme's avatar

I vote for none of the above & so does my wife, ma & immediate family.

Darth_Algar's avatar

If you’re going to join a political party do so because you’re passionate about that party’s platform and want to further it. If you want to network join a social club.

stanleybmanly's avatar

@Here2_4 gets it right. Political affiliation should reflect your ideology. But that’s idealistic. Your motives and this question are much more pertinent in matters of reality. The country is now a factionlized place where your political affiliation can certainly advance or retard your career. Open admission of Republican leanings in San Francisco is tantamount to a predilection for pedophilia, While in Mississippi, you’ll get further advocating the restoration of Confederate money than you ever will wearing the mark of Democrat. Your question about the public discovering your political affiliation is curious. The “public” should only care about your political disposition if the “public” cares about you. Do you plan on celebrity status? In any event, if you plan a career based on networking, you’re going to be quizzed about your politics incessantly. Even in roundabout ways, people are going to make passionate political declarations replete with levels of vitriol formerly assigned topics like spousal infidelity. So let’s give a round of applause to the death of idealism. The question itself is a sure fire indication of your assured future as a VERY successful politician.

SavoirFaire's avatar

Political party membership won’t help you network. It’s not going to get you into any meetings or gatherings you couldn’t have gotten into otherwise, except perhaps for a few that are all about how to achieve a particular political goal (meaning they aren’t about you, and no one will want to hear your sales pitch). Honestly, you’ll have an easier time building a larger client base by not tying yourself to any particular ideology.

Also, don’t register as an Independent (notice the capital “I”). If you register as Independent, you are registering as a member of the American Independent Party (which was founded in part on support for segregation). If you don’t want to be a member of any party, you should check the box for “unaffiliated voter,” “independent voter,” or “I do not wish to enroll in a party” (depending on your state’s registration form). This is an important difference.

JLeslie's avatar

If your friends and business associates care that much about what political party you belong to then they suck. I would say it’s better to keep politics out of your business relationships to begin with, but I know in the red parts of the country that is a little tougher. I have been in offices where Republican paraphernalia is up on the walls in employee offices.

Why not consider just being an independent if you don’t identify with one party over another?

Are you going to actually vote? If so, check to see if you can vote for Dems or Republicans in primaries. Each state is different. That might influence how you want to register.

rojo's avatar

Tough call. Personally I would go with the party I had the most connections to but I have never been a business is business type party. Why not visit both and see who is there that might further your career or increase your business and if that is your goal, then go with the one that makes the most economic sense regardless of your moral objections. Just because you associate yourself with them doesn’t mean you have to vote like them. They have no way of knowing how you vote…......yet.

talljasperman's avatar

Join both parties.

DrasticDreamer's avatar

@SavoirFaire I did not know that, and I will now be changing to “unaffiliated voter”. Can’t believe I never knew that. I’m a little disappointed in myself right now.

cheebdragon's avatar

This is a bad site for political advice.

dappled_leaves's avatar

Declaring support for a political party is the easiest way to lose the support of half your clients. The variable is which half.

As others have said, leave politics out of your work. Support a party if you think its goals should be furthered. If you support a party whose goals do not align with your personal values, then you are a hypocrite and an immoral person. That’s not a side of yourself that you want to show to potential colleagues, either.

JLeslie's avatar

@cheebdragon can you expand on your answer. Is this Q about political advice or networking advice? I really see it as the latter.

Tropical_Willie's avatar

Rather then join a political party join the Country Club.

sinscriven's avatar

Aligning your brand with a political party is a dangerous move with not a whole lot of benefit. If you make one stance one way or the other you are antagonizing almost half of any potential clients you may get. Chick-Fil-A and Oreo for example made political moves (Anti and Pro GLBT respectively) a while back and it blew up a storm for them.

If you want to network, start on the local level, city/county community events, small business and trade expos and such. The hopefully politically netural atmosphere of it may be more productive for you than feeling like you’re in the Ayn Rand fanclub or the Treehuggers anonymous.

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