Are US political parties unable to expel members?

On reading :

Do US political parties have no remedies against people claiming membership of their party but advocating policies that taint their party?

(I am aware that you register party affiliation with state bodies in the US (rather than with the party itself), but is there no way for a party to say “Thanks for wanting to be a (Republican|Democrat) but we (deny your membership application|start the procedure to eject you as a member) because we don’t want members who campaign for (compulsory gay marriage for everyone|being unemployed becoming a capital crime)?”

There is no such thing as formal membership controlled by the parties, so there is no formal way to end it either. Membership is by self-declaration only, when one registers to vote, and even that has meaning only in the primary elections that the parties use to select most of their candidates for office.

US parties have much less significance than with a parliamentary system, and actually no official standing in the Constitution at all.

This is in reference to the Nazi guy who got on the ballot as a Republican?

Political parties in the US are quite different than how they are usually organized in Europe. There are no party members, no membership lists. The party has no power to expel anyone since they don’t have the power to enroll anyone.

Anyone who wants to run for office can declare themselves a member of any party. That doesn’t mean that the national or state party apparatus has to support or endorse that candidate, and sometimes (like when the guy is a Nazi) will endorse a candidate from a different party in the general election.

Does that mean G. W. Bush can’t prove legally that he’s a Republican?

The only thing he can prove is his voter registration, and that he was elected President. “Being a Republican” does not mean anything in a legal sense.

But if no-one, not even Pres. Bush, has any legal membership in the Republican Party, in what sense does the Republican Party (or the Democratic Party) exist at all? Who organises the Republican primaries, for instance, and what right do they have to do so?

Bush is certainly registered as a Republican for primary voting purposes in Texas. He has run for office repeatedly as a Republican. He was recognized as a Republican by the Federal Elections Commission. So he could show in court that he was legally entitled to vote in a primary that required party registration, and that he was entitled to federal money allocated for the Republican party. Beyond that, it’s hard to imagine any court case that would require a legal definition of Republican or what would serve as a legal identifier.

But party membership is either a matter of self-definition or whose ballot line you run on, and a party cannot arbitrarily deny either to people who have otherwise met the legal qualifications.

Each state has different election laws, but in general an appearance on a ballot depends on one of two things: receipt of a specified number or percentage of votes in a previous election or presentation of a petition with the required number of registered voters signing.

The Republicans and Democrats automatically gain ballot lines because of their historic presence on the ballot. (Circular, I know.) Other parties use the petition system to get on the ballot.

The point is that any group of people can call themselves a party and field a slate of candidates for any office in this fashion. That’s part of the incredibly wide-open U.S. system of government. For historic reasons, two parties have come to dominate the process, but in theory - and usually practice - they are treated no differently from any group that wants to enter the race. They are merely self-identifying groups, with self-elected (or appointed) leaders, that other people accept for the purpose of representation in government.

In my opinion only, the way I’ve seen parties all my life is like this: Republicans say the individual is why society is corrupt and Democrats say society is the reason the individual is corrupt.

To further muddy the waters, in my state, we do not register to vote by party affiliation. We simply register to vote. At the polls for a primary election, any voter may vote in either party’s primary. For example, I may choose to vote in the X Party primary this year, and the Y Party primary next year. There’s some pending litigation over this in both Federal and State Court, I think…unless the cases have been consolidated. One of the parties was accussing the other party of sabotaging their primary by voting for the candidate considered easier to defeat in the general election.

Regarding the OP, in the USA, parties are independent self-identified groups, often with little legal recognition in the elections process. (Here in Minnesota, we don’t even have registration to identify which party voters belong to.)

But parties do have control over their internal activities, and their identifying names & symbols. And can take action against people who misuse those.

Thus local branches of the Minnesoata Democratic-Farmer-Labor (DFL) party can take action against party officers who act against party interests. For example, if you publicly support someone running against the party-endorsed candidate while you are a party officer. But you aren’t actually ‘expelled’ from the party – just asked to resign from the party office, or take a leave of absence from that office until after the election.

Also, state laws specifically reserve party names, such as “Democratic-Farmer-Labor” and “DFL” for the exclusive use of the party-endorsed candidates. Other candidates have been prosecuted for putting that on their literature or signs, and paid rather hefty fines. (Putting “DFL member” would have been OK, but just “DFL” is said to imply party endorsement.) I was called to testify in 2 such cases just last summer.

Local Courts have even held that certain colors and designs traditionally used on the party sample ballots are reserved for those parties, and use by other candidates is an attempt to ‘mislead voters’ and an unlawful campaign practice.

Democratic Party Charter

Notice that the party can discriminate based on age. This is because voting, holding office, ect. have age requirements. But there is no qualification given for creed or even a definition. Would “creed” be defined as Democratic or Republican beliefs as per respective charters?

Nondiscrimination Policy

Apparently, there’s no grievance against discrimination based on political affiliation in regards to the political parties. I mean, what would happen if someone with multiple personalities, or a spy were to become a member of both major parties?

diggleblop. I’m not sure why you posted this to this thread. Perhaps you didn’t realize this is General Questions, NOT In My Humble Opinion.

Try to watch it.

samclem GQ moderator

If the usual persuasion and arm-twisting is not enough to get a renegade party member to stay in line, there’s always the muscle of money.

It doesn’t happen very often, but the party can refuse to give any of the party’s campaign money to a rebellious candidate. They can publicly badmouth him, and even run an endorsed candidate against him in the primary. It seems to be happening to Senator Joe Lieberman this year.

I don’t entirely understand the distinction being drawn between US parties and those in parliamentary systems. Couldn’t both be described as “independent self-identified groups with little legal recognition”? For example, AFAIK the British constitution, such as it is, is not terribly concerned with political parties. The parties just arose naturally over the years. The government is headed by whichever individual can command a majority in parliament. Other posters such as APB know far more about this subject than me, so maybe I’m mistaken.

The other thing I’ve never quite grasped, and my Wikipedia chops are failing me here, is what exactly it means to be “registered to vote Republican”. Registered with whom? The idea that in order to fully take part in the political process you have to put on record your party preference seems bizarre. Or maybe it means registered with the party? But wouldn’t that mean that there is, in fact, such a thing as party membership in the US?

One can’t really be expelled from one of the major parties, but if you are active in any way, for instance say you’re a member of a state or local committee, I suppose you could be expelled from the committee, or deprived of any other special position you hold.

I do believe, however, that extremist parties can and do expel members for not toeing the ideological line.

It varies by state, but with the government entity that runs elections in that state - which is called the Department of State normally, even though diplomacy has nothing to do with it.

You can vote for anyone you want to in the general election, the final round where the winner actually gets the office. If the candidate you want isn’t on the ballot, you can write their name in. Party affiliation carries no formal weight at that point.

But the parties have control over the choice of their own nominees, the candidates entitled to use the party’s name and endorsement and resources, both financial and organizational. It so happens that the advance of the democratic process over the nation’s history means that the method the parties use to choose their candidates is now popular election by those voters who consider themselves to be affiliated with, and to share the views of, that party. Should Republicans get to help choose the Democrats’ nominees?

It’s easy to be confused by the fact that the government runs the primaries, but that’s as a courtesy to the parties and for the convenience of the voters, not anything more official than that. A number of local issues, not related to party politics, are also decided in those elections and it’s just easier that way. There are, btw, minimum voter levels required for a party to be considered major and thereby get its own primary ballot, but those requirements vary by state.

In earlier generations, nominees tended to be chosen at the parties’ national and state conventions, by delegates chosen by the party organizations. At the national level, only the format remains, as the delegates are now chosen in primary elections or caucuses by the voters themselves, not the party organization. Some states, like Massachusetts for one, have party state conventions to choose which candidates will appear on the primary ballot and which will have the party organization’s endorsement and resources in that stage, but the actual choice is still up to the voting public.

Believe it or not, the US does not have federal elections at all, it just looks that way every 4 years. What you see is 50 simultaneous state elections, which include choices of slates of electors to the Electoral College which actually chooses the President.

Other than voting in the primaries, no, there isn’t.
To the OP question itself, all a party can do if a distasteful candidate claims its name and runs in its primary is to publicly repudiate him and deny him the use of its resources.

If you are a party committeeperson, you could be expelled for supporting candidates that are not endorsed by the party. But they cannot expel you for your views. You certainly can’t have your registration removed because you openly supported or donated money to a non-endorse candidate. There are Republicans who would support gay marriage and abortion rights and there are Democrats who supported (and continue to support) the war in Iraq.

If you were elected to a governmental office you couldn’t be tossed. In the case of Senator Zell Miller (D-GA), you had a Democrat who endorsed President Bush in 2004. The worst the Senate Democrats could do to him is kick him out of Democratic caucus meetings. Big deal, the Republicans would invite him to theirs.

For those who are not in the US, committee persons are essentially the lowest form of party officer. You are either appointed or elected to represent your voting district at party meetings and conventions. In most cases, it’s quite easy to get elected to the position.

My bad Sam, I wasn’t paying attention. I’m just so used to posting my opinion on other boards and didn’t think anything of it and posted habitually without thinking first. Sorry about that.

But what else is there to being a party member, in any democratic country, other than doing the equivalent of voting in primaries (e.g. voting in leadership elections)? Whatever the system is, you have to somehow pledge yourself to the party in order to take part in the internal vote. There are trifling differences like having to be a party member to get chosen as a candidate (which is de facto true in the US anyway), and membership fees, but I see no significant difference, apart from that weird thing about letting a government agency be involved in internal party elections, which absolutely would not fly over here. But I guess you have that tradition and trust those agencies not to be corrupt.