With the threat of a PTO sitting comfortably in the Top 5, there has been much discussion recently about the importance of organized top parties and what value, if any, there is to be found among so many 6th parties (small parties, if you're unfamiliar with the term). This has me thinking about a lot of things, so sit tight. It's gonna get long and bloggy up in here.
Many of you know this already, but for those who don't, when I joined The Federalists in the Spring of 2009, we were a small party. A very small party, actually, with less than 50 members. There was hardly any activity except among 4 or 5 people at the top, who seemed to hold every title in the party, do every job and also serve in Congress and the Cabinet and/or Military. Feds were considered a 'powerful' 6th party because the few active members had influence and respect on the national level, hence their ability to win Congressional seats without the population to support it. But an objective look at the party would reveal that it really wasn't much of a party at all. It served no purpose other than a power base for those few players.
We had to change our mentality. It wasn't enough to just have a small cult following for a couple of power players. If we wanted real influence and we wanted real power and we didn't want to be so reliant on the activity of just a couple people (or the whims of bigger parties), we had to grow. We needed more members and we needed a new generation of powerful players. We set out to make that happen. When I took over recruiting, we added 40 or so new members in a month and a half. When I took over as Party President soon after, we had over 200 members. We eventually broke into the Top 5 several months later. And these weren't just warm bodies padding our stats, these were active, educated players that had ambitions and wanted to move up in the game. Being a Fed was starting to mean something and these noobs were it. The Fed machine was fully operational and we were seeing results.
I left eRepublik for a while. When I came back, most of what we had built was still standing and I was happy to see that the Feds were still solidly in the Top 5 while other parties who fought vehemently against us and our ideas of what a party should be had faded into obscurity. In many ways, we had been proven right. We said the Fed system could work and grow an active party, and it did exactly that.
Now, while I was gone, some of the old troubles that plague parties had crept back in to the Feds. The biggest problem all parties face is a split focus among individuals. Players are perfectly capable of working a job on the national level and also holding a position on the party level. But when the party leaders hold 3 or 4 party positions, sit in Congress, serve in the Cabinet and run an MU, you can guess that they aren't really doing all of those jobs to the best of their ability. Something has to be sacrificed and it is usually focus on the party. Party work isn't the most glamorous or impressive, but I personally think it's some of the most important work in the game. We built the Feds on that idea, but we had started to forget.
Relying on just a handful of older, active players to do all of the work can destroy a party. They don't have time to focus on new players, so it's unlikely there will be anyone to relieve them of their duty when they inevitably burn out or flip out or ragestroke. Someone will step into the power void, of course, but it could just be more of the same. If they aren't completely overworking themselves, then they probably aren't doing much of anything at all. They're just holding a spot and show up around election time either to regain their seat or hand it over to their friend or to put the entire leadership staff in Congress. Party leadership is just another title to put on a way-too-long signature.
Feds have fallen victim to this from time to time, as any party does when times get tough and the well of new players seems to dry up. Interestingly, though, it is often new players that are the only ones capable of pulling parties out of these ruts. I was just a baby Fed when I started creating programs and restructuring and rebranding the party and our baby Feds still bring it today.
The energy, excitement and passion have to come from somewhere and so many older players are too burdened by history to bring it like they used to. They can bring anger. They can bring indignation (sometimes righteous). But they are too deep into the problems of this game to really see the potential and the great possibilities. They put a lot of work into building their sandcastles and they're gonna stay there, even if it's crumbling. New players bring a serious force of optimism that can keep even the most jaded players smiling and moving forward. Once you've gotten high off noob power, it's easy to become addicted, and a structure like we have in the Feds brings in a steady supply of the good stuff.
We are in the midst of another great Fed revival, thanks to the energy and great ideas of new players. We will keep moving forward and keep pushing for how we want to play this game- with integrity. Through service. With the future in mind.
Older players in big parties find me painfully obnoxious. They think I meddle in party business. They think I'm annoying in how I push for parties to adopt models similar to the Federalists. They think I have this goal of absorbing every party in the eUS. Some of that is right, although I have no desire at all to absorb other parties. But I do think other parties should restructure and refocus. The way the Feds are organized is a positive thing. We have seen the results firsthand. We went from a tiny little party that was built on butthurt to a massive organization that serves this country by growing the next crop of great players. Look at how many new players we have in Congress this month. Look at how many of our new players are taking positions in the Cabinet and becoming popular in the media. This model works and these players are going to move this country forward.
Players in small parties find me painfully obnoxious, as well. They think I disregard them. They think I don't care about their opinions and want to horde all the power at the top and just dish out instructions to them. But I remember what it was like to be a 6th party. I remember being told that we were hurting the country because we didn't want to join one of the elitist Top 5s. We were told we had to merge with other parties or we were going to be labeled as enemies to democracy or something. We sought our revenge by growing and proving our ideals to be right. We showed them how wrong they were by working hard and fighting for influence and power THROUGH THE SYSTEM.
One of the best moments for the Federalists while we were a 6th party was acting as the unbiased entity that could bring the Top 5 together during war time. Congressional elections were a dangerous and dividing time for our nation as parties vied for power in every held region. The quality of the candidates didn't matter, the only thing that mattered was party affiliation. We faced too many threats at the time for that to keep going on. The Feds stepped in and pushed for organizing in such a way that would result in the maximum number of GOOD Congressmen, regardless of affiliation. No one handed us that job, we took it. And there's no way we could've done that if we had been a Top 5 party at the time.
So when a 6th party tells me they hate the government, they hate the political process, they have no desire to participate in a number of aspects of the game but still DEMAND equal voice and influence, I say no. I say no because their parties are about them, not any sort of ideal. I say no because they are right now where the Feds were in 2008/2009- a party built on butthurt. They are blind to the bigger picture. People are completely free to do whatever they want. If they want to nominate themselves for PoTUS during a month when UNITY is necessary, they can do that. If they want to vote against the eUS candidate to satisfy their personal desire to try and hurt a specific individual, they can do that, too. But I would personally feel an ethical conflict if I pretended those individuals are representative of anything other than themselves and a handful of embittered friends. And I wouldn't feel right about encouraging a new player to join such a group. It seems like a death sentence.
Not all of the 6th parties are this way, of course. Some are actively trying to grow and want to break into the Top 5, just as the Feds did, so they can earn the respect and influence they want to have in this game. They are building structures and systems that can help new players and move this country forward. They function like a real party, not just an angry social club. To those parties, I want to give everything. FOR those parties I fight for inclusion in things like Unity elections.
6th parties can have value just by being outside of the Top 5 system. They have a different vantage point and without any mechanical stake in some operations, they can be anything from peacekeepers to mediators to a strong mobile political force and many things in between. They can be the next party to break into the top 5 or a strong buffer holding the #6 spot. But regardless of the voice they choose to have, there should be no mistaking that they are partners in our shared future.
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