Every day we are treated to relentless messaging around the fight between the Elephants and the Donkeys. We must be invested in that fight, we are told, and that fight alone. We have to choose one of those sides.

An old street hustle is three-card monte, in which the con artist distracts you with a game while robbing you blind. In politics, we’re encouraged to be distracted by the “game” between the Elephants and the Donkeys – even as our Republic is stolen from us. 

Yes, there are two political parties – but they aren’t what we are told.

The two real parties in politics are the ruling elite, and everyone else. Understanding that is critical to being an effective grassroots activist. The hustle, of course, is making us disbelieve the evidence of our eyes.

For example, it is why – after two decades of Texas Republicans promising to cut property taxes and reduce the size of government – property taxes are nonetheless 181 percent higher, and government has never been bigger. All while those same Republicans have held all the policy-making power in the state.

It is why Democrats, despite their messaging against accumulated wealth and the evils of corporate America, are nonetheless enriching themselves while enjoying the support of those same corporations.

Now, let’s be clear: there are differences between the Republican Party and the Democrat Party. A casual look at their stated platforms and policy positions reveals starkly different approaches to government.

Yet those sales documents, those brand descriptors, rarely apply to Republicans and Democrats holding offices of public trust. The politicians are more interested in building up themselves up among their fellow politicians than delivering on the promises they made to fight for their constituents.

The public policy fights on issues citizens legitimately care about are used by the hustlers to distract us from their efforts to consolidate power. Cutting taxes, controlling spending, protecting the border, improving education… all of those matter to citizens, yet rarely get done because they don’t serve the interests of the cronies profiting off government.

We must recognize our culpability as citizens. We have outsourced the management of our republic to ego-driven con men. We give our vote to the men and women whose words tickle our ears, not to people willing to fight aggressively against the entrenched establishment. We’ve let the cronies convince us public policy is best conducted with the voters sitting passively in the bleachers while the politicians participate in a choreographed fight using folding chairs and stage-blood.

The politicians who claim to be fighting for you, yet haven’t delivered, are players in a political hustle designed to deprive you of your liberty. The political parties are useful tools, but they are too often co-opted by self-serving politicians against the citizenry.

It’s time to take the fight to them. Citizens must stop outsourcing the governance of our republic to people more interested in their standing among the cronies than in delivering meaningful results.

We must no longer be satisfied with scripted zingers aimed at the other party. As citizens, we must demand – and be satisfied only with – meaningful actions and real results.

This sad game of two-card monte played by three-bit politicians will only come to an end when the citizens have had enough. No more games. We have a republic to save.

Michael Quinn Sullivan

Michael Quinn Sullivan is the publisher of Texas Scorecard. He is a native Texan, a graduate of Texas A&M, and an Eagle Scout. Previously, he has worked as a newspaper reporter, magazine contributor, Capitol Hill staffer, and think tank vice president. Michael and his wife have three adult children, a son-in-law, and a dog. Michael is the author of three books, including "Reflections on Life and Liberty."