Why Americans Must Demolish the Political Duopoly and Create a New Progressive Alliance
by Thomas Baldwin. Copyright 2013-2014. Reprinted by permission from Progressive Activists Voice.
The United States is experiencing a serious crisis and most Americans know it. Our government and the Washington establishment is disintegrating at near breath taking speed. It could well be the most serious situation in at least a hundred years. For years now several authors have described our government in Washington as being “broken” or “dysfunctional”. But these words seem inadequate now.
It is much more like a “living” entity which is dying and is in a critical state; all vital signs are poor. Crises are generated in Washington from incompetence and corruption. Little or nothing gets done; few if any serious problems are addressed. Everything is addressed as “partisan.” But that is a delusion because as I will mention later there is really only one party with two different factions serving the corporate fascists. When the two factions finally agree on something, then it is called “bipartisan” because the two political parties appear to be constantly fighting over power and money. What, if anything, is to be done about this evil charade?
The election of Barack Obama in 2008 was run on a campaign of “Hope and Change”. We had experienced eight years of a troubling presidency by Republican George W. Bush. Bush’s approval rating had sunk to about 30% near the end of his second term. We had experienced nearly 7 years of a “war on terrorism” including two major invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan at a cost of well over a trillion dollars. Our financial situation had steadily deteriorated until the economy nearly collapsed in 2008. Emergency measures led to bailing out the big banks for hundreds of billions of dollars. The stock market had collapsed to about 50% of its high and unemployment increased dramatically with nearly 8 million people losing their jobs.
We now KNOW that Obama’s election in 2008 was all a marketing phenomenon created by more than a billion dollars, much of it from large banks–Wall Street. And after five years of a Democratic presidency under Barack Obama, the “hope and change” he had promised never came. Numerous writers have documented how the policies of George Bush have not only been continued by Obama, but, in fact, worsened in several respects. In particular, civil liberties (under a president who was presumably a “Constitutional lawyer”) have been significantly reduced or eroded with increased frequency in the wrong doing of our surveillance state, indefinite detention under NDAA, criminal prosecutions of whistle blowers, foreign invasions (e.g. Drone attacks) and assassinations violating the sovereignty of nations. Threats to bomb Syria to “remove” chemical weapons were made and based upon false intelligence.
New threats of even greater magnitude have been directed at Russia over Crimea; they are hypocritical complaints of almost unbelievable magnitude coming directly from the mouths of Obama and Secretary John Kerry. On the domestic front, most employment gains have been from temporary, part time or lower wage jobs; universal healthcare which was promised looks increasing like an illusion and possibly a big lie. Certainly healthcare costs will not be controlled because the ACA was a huge give away to the private sector insurance companies and big pharmaceuticals and millions will still be without coverage.
The big gains experienced in the stock market since 2008 are simply increasing the profitability of the corporations and the riches of the very wealthy, further aggravating the income/wealth inequities separating the 1% from the other 99% of Americans. Americans are as pessimistic as they have been in decades and that is also reflected in their loss of confidence in their government. Congressional approval ratings have sunk to as low as 8%, the lowest in recorded history.
We have no promising leaders emerging on a national level, just a recycling of the same old two party characters and political jargon with their propaganda already looking at and preparing for future elections three years in advance. One thing Barack Obama has proven and made crystal clear to me: There will be no “hope and change” if we continue on this path. THIS MY FELLOW AMERICANS IS “THE REAL STATE OF OUR UNION” AND NOT THE GARBAGE UTTERED BY PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA IN HIS JANUARY SPEECH!
In continuing to tolerate these worsening conditions and allowing the two political parties to completely control our future, we are, in effect, admitting to insanity—“doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.” Of course some have just given up and dropped out. It is similar to what an addict does in continuing to practice his habit of using a substance which controls his/her life by using just one more time and expecting to change things later. We need to apply “recovery” techniques to our political system and that most likely requires that we go “cold turkey” on continuing to tolerate the Democratic and Republican parties total control of our political system and our government. In recent polls as many as 60% of Americans say they welcome additional or “third” political parties; as few as 26% are satisfied with what we have.
In the last 14 years and despite four presidential elections and seven Congressional elections, things have considerably worsened with the two party political duopoly. If we don’t radically alter this soon, it will certainly destroy us because things only get worse with each election. If nothing changes, conditions will almost certainly get worse in the elections of 2014 and 2016. Millions will continue to be unemployed or grossly underemployed, many more will be impoverished, prospects for our youth will worsen, income/wealth inequities will increase and our confidence in our government will be nearly zero. Our war mongering imperialism will go on and on.
It is worth mentioning here that nearly 90% of incumbents were returned to elected office in the House and Senate in 2012. And, of course, Obama was easily reelected with the aid of a few billion dollars. But there is one particular thing that continues to “change”; corporate money spent for lobbying and campaign contributions have increased dramatically! There are as many or more millionaires in Congress as we have ever had. Only the very wealthy or those with access to money can afford to run for office. Congress is essentially 100% dominated by one of the two political parties.The only significant “independent” in Congress is Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont and if he decides to run for president on the Democratic Party, we know damn well what will happen to him; just talk to Nader or Dennis Kucinich.
The so-called barrier to entry for other political parties have presented extreme obstacles to getting on ballots and extreme difficulty in mounting meaningful candidates for office because of the money that has to be spent for media exposure. Corporations control the media which support the two party system because that’s where the money is. Our political system is a tightly controlled DUOPOLY, and antitrust laws prohibit that in the private sector. Laws that apply to us don’t apply to the elite elected officials because they are the ones who make the laws! That provides an open door for members of Congress, in particular, and even members of the Executive Branch to be completely “owned” and controlled by corporations and the wealthy who now have no limits on the amount they can spend on a candidate, thanks to the Supreme Court’s Citizen’s United decision. We have effectively made bribery legal and corporations and the wealthy are encouraged to participate. It’s a guarantee for total corruption in the U.S. government and that is what we have achieved. Our political system has been trying to drive us toward financial bankruptcy and it has happened, in large part, because of moral bankruptcy.
A government coup has been underway for some time and corporate fascism coupled with a drive toward totalitarianism has begun to dominate every aspect of our lives. WE MUST DEMOLISH THE TWO PARTY DUOPOLY IN THIS COUNTRY AND IT MUST BEGIN NOW OR IT WILL HAPPEN VIOLENTLY. John F. Kennedy said, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” Thomas Jefferson said,
God forbid we should ever be 20 years without such a rebellion. The people cannot be all, and always, well informed. The part which is wrong will be discontented in proportion to the importance of the facts they misconceive. If they remain quiet under such misconceptions it is a lethargy, the forerunner of death to the public liberty.” (From the “Tree of Liberty”).
Political parties did not exist in 1789. George Washington despised the idea of political associations, formed in such a way as to pit one group of citizens against another. In his farewell speech in 1796 he said:
All obstructions to the execution of the Laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They [political parties] serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation, the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels, and modified by mutual interests.
There is really only one monopolistic “party” in the duopoly; it is the CORPORATIST PARTY!
I am strongly inclined to believe this of our current political parties: Both the Republican and the Democratic parties are totally controlled by corporations—corporate fascists—who “own” most of our elected representatives. Unlimited money in politics from lobbying and from campaign contributions have assured that. Corporations often literally write the laws which representatives then present and advocate. Congress always defers to “experts” on the subjects. In the past this was referred to as bribery, but it is now standard accepted practice. There is often no disclosure of who is doing the dirty work.
Under Obama, we have learned clearly that his role in representing the Corporatists is to appease his supporters with his rhetorical flourishes and symbolism and to agree to “compromise” with Republicans, giving them essentially everything they demand. This is then labeled “bipartisanship.” Obama is applauded for his support for the Middle Class when all that’s been done is to move the country further to the right and reward the 1% and the corporations even further. The Democrats boast on how much they are doing for the “people” while all of the time just offering socially distracting rhetoric.
This has been going on now for many, many years by a deceptive and dishonest party which calls itself “Democratic”. The Republicans are mean spirited and admit their evilness. But this “cooperative effort” accounts for the extreme income/wealth inequities that have been created AND HAS GROWN TO HUGE PROPORTIONS UNDER OBAMA. The Democrats keep providing the cover for the Republicans to do their dirty work. I particularly like the description given by Peter Camejo in 2004:
For over 130 years the two major parties have been extremely effective in preventing the emergence of any mass political formations that challenge their political monopoly. Most attempts to build political alternatives have been efforts to represent the interests of the average person, the working people. These efforts have been unable to develop. Both major parties have been dominated by moneyed interests and today reflect the historic period of corporate rule. In this sense United States history has been different from that of any other advanced industrial nation. In all other countries multi-party systems have appeared and to one degree or another they have more democratic electoral laws and more representation has existed. In almost all other cases political parties ostensibly based on or promoting the interest of non-corporate sectors such as working people exist.
There is an ongoing debate about “when” things got this bad but it is traceable at least to the mid 1980′s or perhaps even the 1970′s certainly prior to the Clinton administration. The Democratic Leadership Council (DLC) which was the policy arm of the Democratic Party made a commitment then to go after corporate support to compete with the Republican Party.
Here is what was reported about an interview with Thomas Frank, author of “What’s the Matter with Kansas?” in 2006!
In the concluding chapter of “Kansas,” Frank assigns “a large part of the blame for the backlash phenomenon” to the “criminal stupidity” of the Democratic Party in abandoning its commitment to labor and economic justice in pursuit of white-collar votes and corporate contributions. The DLC in particular, he writes, thinks that “to collect the votes and — more important — the money of these coveted constituencies,” Democrats must stand firm on issues like abortion rights while making “endless concessions on economic issues” such as NAFTA, welfare, privatization and deregulation. The result? Democrats become Tweedledum to the Republicans’ Tweedledee on the laissez-faire economy, leaving their opponents free to woo blue-collar voters with backlash issues.” This article goes on to ask: “Has the DLC taken economic issues off the table? “Of course they haven’t taken them off the table — they’ve just become Republicans.
We all should know by now that the impact of Clinton policies in the 1990′s have been disastrous to our economy. Specifically, NAFTA and related trade agreements have led to huge exportation of jobs. Ending “welfare as we know it” has led to large increases in poverty. Repeal of Glass-Steagall in regulating the banks led directly to the 2008 crash and great recession. The Democratic Party has proven it is just another faction of the Corporatist Party which controls our political system. As I described in a blog in July 2013, Barack Obama has taken it to another level preparing the country for a complete corporate fascist, totalitarian nation.
As Chris Hedges describes in this talk given in early December 2013, “The Country is Decaying at an Alarming Rate“. It’s been far too long for the people to remain quiet and lethargic any longer! It’s time to create an army of activists and declare war on the two factions who control and operate the political system! Here are some suggestions for things you can do right now!
STARTING THE PROCESS OF ENDING THE TWO PARTY DUOPOLY
STEP 1: STOP ALL SUPPORT FOR BOTH POLITICAL PARTIES! This means quite simply stop giving any financial contributions to either the Democratic or Republican parties now. Announce to candidates you will not support them running on those tickets and ESPECIALLY IF THEY HAVE RECEIVED CORPORATION SUPPORT.
STEP 2: SPEND YOUR TIME, MONEY AND ENERGY WORKING FOR OTHER CAUSES AND SUPPORTING NON PROFITS. Devote your time, money and efforts with those organizations which represent your interests and worthwhile efforts to improve our society. These are NOT the two political parties. It might include political causes which also represent you rather than some candidate for office.
STEP 3. LOOK FOR ALTERNATIVE POLITICAL PARTIES such as the Green Party, etc. to support if they become active in making a difference in the principles and causes you support. Remember it is not their candidate that they support but rather their principles (platform) and what they really DO that is important.
STEP 4. FOCUS MORE TIME WORKING ON CAUSES AND GOVERNMENTAL CONCERNS CLOSER TO HOME (INCLUDING YOUR STATE), such as social and economic issues: poverty, food and housing, education, transportation, public safety, environmental matters, etc. Consider becoming active in local political matters if you are not already involved but attempt to steer clear of the two party trap.
You may object by saying well this will open the floodgates for the corporations to come in and fill the “vacuum.” The corporations are already there; it is delusional to think you can have any significant impact on the two political parties by continuing to suport them. You can better use your time exposing the corporations for what they are doing and direct economic boycotts against them! Support alternative media including investigative journalists who do not work for any corporate media, i.e giant corporations! And support and encourage more whistle blowers who expose our government’s wrong doing.
An organization worthy of note today is called Popular Resistance and here is their website and newsletter. Their process diagram for building an effective resistance movement shown here is very useful. Calling for the end of the two party duopoly has been done before, of course. This article in Fire Dog Lake by the Electoral Reform Coalition is notable. Of course, Ralph Nader has been trying to mount an effort for this purpose for years by running on a “third party” ticket. But the duopoly has squashed every attempt as soon as they can, often by convincing the public that they are wasting their time and their “vote”. Roots Action has just had a press release that addresses a Budget for People, Peace and Planet. There are an abundance of relatively new sites on Facebook who offer an opportunity to exchange valuable information.
These various action strategies require that you become more active and involved in making this change occur. It will take time and dedication away from your computer, your home, etc. and out of your comfort zone. You will experience conflict but deal with it confidently. Emphasize the positive outcomes which will be recognized.
MODEL FOR A PROGRESSIVE NETWORK ORGANIZATION
A Unified Progressive Movement or Coalition: Periodic efforts have made to create and launch “third party” efforts by small groups around the nation but few achieve any kind of significant national recognition. The Green Party has made a gallant effort but generally fails to get more than a fraction of the national vote in presidential elections though their platform is appealing to many of us. In order to mount a significant challenge by a progressive movement, I believe a coalition of organizations must agree to cooperate to represent common values. This requires both a suppression of individual egos and a willingness to work together on common causes.
- Demanding that we significantly diminish our war mongering imperialism around the world in the name of “national defense, support for democracy, and humanitarianism”. We all know what a smoke screen that has provided for justifying every intervention and invasion our leaders in government have tried.
- Demanding that the defense budget be decreased and that those funds be allocated to domestic needs.
- Demanding that the government play a real role in education and employment.
- Demanding that we address the income/wealth inequities that have been created from the tax reductions and tax loop holes for the wealthy and the corporations.
- Demanding that we address poverty and hunger in this country.
- Demanding that we address the problems that have been created from our continued dependence upon fossil fuels and the resulting climate crisis. In effect, demanding that we emphasize “human” needs and values, not the values of simply power and money which currently motivate and drive America’s dying political system.
A sample diagram of the network proposed where organizations will regularly communicate with one another and work on common priorities and projects is shown. The internet and social media will be a primary tool to strengthen the network. New leadership will emerge from that rather than depending upon the political process to recycle the same old stuff and people. This requires that the leadership of these organizations suppress some individual egos and begin to COOPERATE! This isn’t intended to be all encompassing but rather to offer an additional prompt for vigorous discussion and ideas and to encourage individual and organizational efforts to make a difference.