It would be like subscribing to a daily newspaper hoping that it might give you some influence over the publisher’s editorial policy.
Like a media company, a political party wants you to feel like this is a two-way dialogue, that you have a voice and your opinion has influence on the agenda.
But only the feeling is important, and only because the feeling makes it easier to generate the funding, which is what the relationship is all about.
The same applies to political donations.
Both the Coalition and ALP invite me to events; some free, some paid.
If it’s free, or if the cost is clearly only a cover charge, I’ll go.
But if it’s a case of “pay $500 per seat and you can sit with the Minister” I won’t go, even if my business could benefit from a relationship with the Minister.
Because you get the behaviour you reward, and if you reward access-for-cash, you won’t get access without paying for it. They-with-the-most-cash will outbid you every time.
Same goes for party membership: you get the behaviour you reward. If the party believes the feeling of representation is enough to keep you a member, that’s all you’ll get. If it observes that you remain a member despite a lack of real representation, that’s all you’ll continue to get.
The best thing that could happen to Australian democracy today would be a mass resignation of rank-and-file membership of all our major parties.
The second best thing would be a mass decision by businesses and lobbyists to stop making donations until donation law is properly reformed.
Neither is very likely to occur.
But remember when you’re complaining about the shit show that is modern Australian politics:
You get the behaviour you reward.