Saturday, May 26, 2012
Why America needs multipartyism
The Liberal Ironist had an essay on the origins of partisanship in Washington. Like most analyses, it seems to be based on the erroneous premise that there was little or no partisanship in Washington prior to the 1990s. Anyone actually familiar with American history knows there have been several times when the country and the Congress have been far more bitterly divided than it is now: the late 18th/early 19th century, the Civil War and Reconstruction, the Vietnam years.
The current hyperpartisanship is really the result of the convergence of the two major political parties on economic issues. Since Reagan's reign, BOTH major parties have veered sharply to the right on economic issues. And while liberals comfort themselves by blaming Republicans, even Democratic presidents have pushed the conservative economic orthodoxy of deficit reduction, tax cuts, heavy cuts to social services and the fraud mislabeled “free trade.”
Because the two parties have so heavily converged on economic issues, the only real difference remaining between them is on social issues. Since this is really only a small handful of issues – primarily whether gays, women and Hispanics deserve to be treated as human beings or deserve to be treated by 14th century standards – the two parties play these up to the hilt.
It's called the psychosis of small differences. They already agree on so much, they can't compromise on the few things they disagree with or else they will be completely identical. The illusion of choice in our corporatacracy depends upon these few differences being hyped up as much as possible so as to rally the bases.
You now have a Democratic president who’s campaigning on his health insurance scheme... a scheme originally conceived and implemented by his Republican opponent... who’s now attacking what he created.
I can’t think of anything that demonstrates the convergence (as well as the cowardice, corruption and intellectual bankruptcy) of the two corporate parties more perfectly. The Democrats have become Republicans. And the Republicans have become Medievalists. What's a rational voter to do? Follow Albert Einstein's advice and avoid the insanity of "doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results."
Vote for smaller party and independent candidates, like Dr. Jill Stein. At the bare minimum, inform yourself about candidates from outside the two corporate parties. This will take some work, since the corporate media tends to blacklist them, but it's worth the effort.
The US is probably the only democracy in the world with so few (two) parties represented in their national legislature – even in democratic paragons like Russia and Zimbabwe have at least three. This won’t solve all the problems. But clearly, fresh ideas and approaches are needed and the Republicans and Democrats are not interested.