The telephone eliminated the need for the face-to-face negotiations. Today, political conventions are little more than infomercials for presidential candidates.
The Internet and cable TV have accelerated the eclipsing of parties. Opinion websites and TV and radio hosts now do more to shape issues and select candidates than the parties do. It’s a bit like comic books. Readership of comics has been in steady decline, but movie studios and toy manufacturers still feed off the brands created generations ago.
The weird thing is that the American people didn’t seem to notice. The largest voting bloc in America today call themselves independents, but most of them tend to be as partisan as everybody else, while “pure independents” are less likely to vote at all.
And yet, Americans keep talking about partisan politics as if the parties are in charge, and base voters on the left and the right keep railing against the party establishments like mobs unaware that they’re kicking dead horses.