Ookay. Just going to try to reign this back on track -- far be it from me to ever do this.
Just to substantiate my claim that the parties are engines for winning elections and not engines to promote ideologies I provide two specific and one general example.
1) Arlen Spector switching from Democrat to Republican and then, more recently, from Republican to Democrat. What was his reason for changing party? Did his opinion change on helathcare reform? on tax reform? on civil rights issues? No. His reason for changing party was that he would not win the Republican primary election in Pennsylvania; read: he changed party because one was more likely to help him keep his seat. Incidentally, it didn't.
2) Mitch McConnell's statement after the Republican "landslide" taking one whole house of the bicameral legislature with, incidentally, slightly less ability to control legislation than the other what was his stated primary goal for that Congress? Was it to push "conservatism" or whatever that word means now? Was it to persuade the President to accept the Republican platform? Was it to impose his ideology on the country? No. It was to make sure that Obama doesn't win in 2012. We'll see how well that works.
1) In the 2004 election one would have thought that there were only two issues being debated: gays and the war. On the war both parties were virtually identical so let's look at the issue of gays. Grace a Gavin Newsom who, for whatever reason, has been alloted some blame for the Kerry loss by allowing gays to marry in San Francisco of all places. There was talk of a constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage that, supposedly, compelled more Republicans to the polls than Democrats -- not because of Kerry's generally bad campaign.
At the time the Republicans were still a position to do pretty much whatever the fuck they wanted. Did they ban any of the things they seemed to hate so much? like penises touching? abortion? Islam? No. They didn't do any of that. What was their biggest push? Expanding Medicare. Expanding an entitlement program, probably next on the list of things that Republicans hate, just under two men holding hands.
Why did they do that one thing that totally opposed their ideology while doing nothing to promote their own? The senior vote is strong, and the senior vote will help them keep their seat.