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A few weeks ago, I wrote a short piece for the New York Times on why it seems that the Republican Party label is quite toxic. Some excerpts might be apt this morning:

"Activists ... consider themselves conservatives first and Republicans second. And over the past few years, they have directed their anger not just at President Obama, for messing the country up, but also at the Republican leadership, for being feckless and irresolute and for not effectively opposing the president. (They were already furious with the Republican establishment for betraying core conservative values by running up large deficits and trying to pass the McCain-Kennedy immigration reform legislation.)

In earlier times, such voices, on the right and the left, would have been relegated to the heckler's gallery. But Twitter, Facebook and Google empower them to raise money, attract followers, grab attention and influence the course of political events. Unlike parties, which often recruit candidates who would appeal to the average voter in a general election, these activists care only about nominating the person who accurately represents their own views and frustrations.

That's not all: true outsider candidates can use those same technologies and strategies to keep their coffers full, become known to voters and generate their own opportunities (and good luck). Not getting the nod from party power brokers can become the foundation on which to build an entire campaign. In turn, political parties, with their promises of millions of dollars and high-priced consulting support from Alexandria, Va., come off as imperious, cautious and out of touch.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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