Clifford K. Berryman ReduxKrist Novoselic’s column on music and politics runs every

Clifford K. Berryman ReduxKrist Novoselic’s column on music and politics runs every Tuesday on Reverb. He writes about the music he’s been listening to every Friday.The meeting of the book club was at 7 p.m. in the corner of the coffee shop. There were usually around seven people who’d meet once a month to talk about their group and issues around books. A recurring theme was how to bring in more members, and this was–again–going to be the discussion for the night. The leader of the group reminded everyone how important it was for any club to have members, and he invited others to offer ideas on how to bring people in.One lady brushed the scone crumbs from her hand and stood up. The floor was hers, and she duly suggested that the book club should offer coupons for free coffee and other treats from the coffee shop for people who are interested in attending. This idea was well received; the others nodded approvingly, muttering “Yes” and “Good idea.” Satisfied with her contribution to the meeting, the lady sat down and dug back into her scone.In a fit of inspiration, likely as a result of the brilliant idea just presented, one man stood up and offered that there should be a booster night, but “something special.” “We could have it at the pizza parlor with free food and soda pop for the people who come.” The excitement was palatable over this suggestion, and the seven people started to chatter among themselves about which pizza joint to meet at, promoting the event, and other details. A student in the group, a young adult who was really interested in reading, sat quietly for the whole meeting. It was her second time there, and she’d felt awkward since her first experience. The meeting had fallen into disarray, with every individual gabbing about the notion of an exciting pizza night. The young lady stood up and the group fell silent, looking on approvingly–finally she was going to speak: “Why don’t we read a book and talk about it?” she suggested.It was as if she had sucked all the air out of the room. The silence was awkward. Some gasped, others looked down or away. One cynical dude chuckled, but uncomfortably. While the comment made sense, it was clear that this book club didn’t read. It didn’t want to. It could, but that was too much work.I offer this allegory as a demonstration of how I see the grassroots portion of the two major parties in the United States–weak and ineffectual. Like the book club that doesn’t read, they don’t want to or can’t nominate candidates. They’re content with the state doing the job with partisan primary elections.People often refer to the “two-party” system in this country. But there are actually four parties in the United States. The first two are the multimillion dollar operations that sell access to government–the congressional and state legislative caucus committees who compete against each other. These political machines are a conduit around financial contribution limits set on individual campaigns. In other words, the law says you can give way more money to a party than to a single person’s campaign. Money is like water in politics–it will always find a way to get through, and this law of nature sustains the respective political machines.The other two parties are the grassroots portion of the arrangement. These people actually hold the moniker DEMOCRATIC or REPUBLICAN in their hands, but are satisfied with that alone and are content to defer to the big-money operations. There’s plenty of busy work to do anyway. Things like passing resolutions and platforms that nobody gives a rat’s ass about. Oh, yes, and planning things like pizza nights or whatever.Most voters are tired of the two major parties, but, like an abused spouse, they keep coming back time after time. It’s by the grace of this arrangement that the local major party committees keep going.I’m a big believer in political association because I see it as an antidote to big-money politics. If enough people get together, they amplify their voices in a way that can level the playing field. As a candidate, President Obama raised many millions of dollars in small individual contributions. This phenomenon will happen again in 2012, but on a larger scale across the ideological spectrum.As the campaign season gears up and you grow weary of the same old shallow political advertising that’s funded by special-interest dollars, think about the girl at the book club in the context of political association. Think about how she could get together with like-minded others and have a real voice. This won’t necessarily be in the context of the dinosaur Democratic or Republican parties; it will be the result of the information revolution and how it accommodates groups of people. It won’t be a big leap from Facebook to something like the Rock Party.