Failure of America’s Two Parties

The U.S. political process, which fancies itself the world’s “gold standard,” is ready to foist on the American people two disdained candidates, Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton, raising profound doubts about the two-party system, writes Nat Parry.

By Nat Parry

For generations, the U.S. public has largely accepted that the two-party system was the best we could hope for: while perhaps not perfect, this particular brand of democracy – dominated since the 1800s by the Democratic and Republican parties – is certainly more democratic than the one-party communist dictatorships of China or North Korea, and is probably more stable than the multi-party parliamentary systems seen in Europe.

Yet, many of us struggle every election cycle with a nagging feeling that there is something wrong with a system that limits electoral choices to just two political parties but provides choices on consumer products so expansive as to border on bewildering. How is it, we wonder, that when we go into a voting booth our choices are limited to “A” and “B” but when we walk into a grocery store, we must choose between 15 varieties of toothpaste?Unknown-6

As the late great historian Howard Zinn once sardonically said, “we have two parties, and this proves we have democracy, though two parties is only one more than one party!”

It’s a good point, actually. While a one-party state would not be considered democratic by any standards, somehow the U.S. two-party system – with only one more party than a one-party system – is touted as the crown jewel of the world’s oldest constitutional republic. But despite misgivings over the lack of choice in the general election, the two-party system’s saving grace has long been the ability of voters to influence the nomination process of these two parties.

Through the primary process, defenders of the two-party system point out, the people are empowered to determine the leaders of the parties and therefore shouldn’t complain when the choices end up being between a giant douche and a turd sandwich, as “South Park” so eloquently described the situation in a brilliantly subversive critique of Election 2004.

That has always made some degree of sense, deflating criticisms of the two-party system and enhancing its democratic legitimacy to large degree, but what has transpired in Campaign 2016 significantly calls into question some of the underlying assumptions of this argument. While the trends that we have seen this year may have existed in previous election cycles, the impacts that they are having in plain sight are leading many to question the basic legitimacy of this system.

First of all, the ability of party elites to manipulate the process by placing a “thumb on the scale” has more clearly come into focus, highlighting the unfairness to “populists” who don’t enjoy support from powerful party insiders.

On the Democratic side, before a primary vote had even been cast, Bernie Sanders was severely disadvantaged by the support that so-called “superdelegates” had expressed for his rival Hillary Clinton, with the media routinely reporting her superdelegate advantage despite the fact that these individuals had not voted yet – which only happens at the party convention in the summer.

Insisting on Clinton’s Inevitability

At the time of the first “Super Tuesday” in early March, the race was a dead heat in terms of pledged delegates (i.e. the delegates selected by regular voters in primaries and caucuses), but because Clinton had already racked up support from at least 459 superdelegates (the handful of party insiders who are given a disproportionate voice in the nominating process at the Democratic National Convention), she was routinely reported as being ahead of Sanders in the overall delegate count by 503-70.

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton addressing the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

So, from the beginning, Clinton effectively had what appeared as a seemingly insurmountable lead in the delegate count. This contributed to what was always Clinton’s main advantage: the perceived inevitability of her candidacy as the Democratic Party’s anointed nominee and as the natural successor to President Barack Obama. Sanders has had to struggle the whole campaign season against this deficit in both delegate count and public perception, a task that was not helped by a media establishment systematically sidelining him.

Anecdotal evidence from the beginning of the campaign seemed to indicate that there was something amiss when it came to media coverage, with Sanders’ campaign rallies treated as non-events while other candidates’ rallies were given prominent coverage on the networks.

Over a year ago, in an analysis for Media Matters for America, Eric Boehlert noted that despite Sanders’ campaign rallies drawing thousands of people – making them some of the largest campaign events of 2015 by either Democrats or Republicans – the media chose not to cover them as major news events.

According to Boehlert, writing in May 2015, “At a time when it seems any movement on the Republican side of the candidate field produces instant and extensive press coverage, more and more observers are suggesting there’s something out of whack with Sanders’ press treatment. And they’re right.”

When Sanders did get reported on in the media, much of the coverage portrayed him as outside the mainstream of American politics, or viewed him solely through the prism of Hillary Clinton.

“It’s all about how his campaign might affect her strategy and her possible policy shifts, instead of how his campaign will affect voters and public policy,” Boehlert wrote. “On the Republican side, candidates are generally covered as stand-alone entities, not as appendages to a specific rival.”

Discounting Sanders

Beyond that, much of the early coverage unequivocally declared that Sanders had no chance of winning, an odd role for the media to play in covering a nomination campaign. The press, after all, is supposed to report on the nomination process, not determine – or predict – the nomination process.

Yet, this is what a few prominent news outlets have had to say when Sanders announced his candidacy: “Bernie Sanders isn’t going to be president,” according to the Washington Post last year. “He Won’t Win,” said Newsweek, “So Why Is Bernie Sanders Running?” MSNBC: “Why Bernie Sanders matters, even if he can’t win.”

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, who is seeking the Democratic presidential nomination.

The coverage went on like that throughout 2015, with Sanders systematically ignored and marginalized by the mainstream media, with an independent media analysis finding late last year that the major networks’ evening news broadcasts between January and November 2015 devoted just ten minutes to the Sanders campaign. Meanwhile, these same broadcasters (ABC, NBC and CBS) devoted a whopping 234 minutes to Donald Trump’s campaign.

By April 2016, the disparity in coverage had grown too much for Sanders supporters to handle, and hundreds of protesters took to the streets outside CNN offices in Hollywood to voice their frustration with the imbalanced reporting.

“There should be fair and equal coverage for all presidential candidates,” said one protester at the rally.

“Stop showing Trump so much,” said another. “Stick to the issues.”

Indeed, while the media throughout the primary season has essentially treated the Democratic race as a non-story in which Clinton was expected to easily clinch the nomination, the Republican race was seen as a titillating cliffhanger in which every movement and change in the polls – not to mention every crazy tweet sent out by Trump at three in the morning – was given headline coverage.

Ultimately, Trump accounted for 43 percent of all Republican coverage on network news in 2015, out of an initial field of 17 candidates. That means that the other 16 candidates competed for just over half of the coverage. And this doesn’t even count all of Trump’s appearances on morning programs and Sunday talk shows, which would increase his airtime exponentially. With this kind of saturation coverage, is it any wonder that he emerged as the top GOP contender?

Despised Nominees

Largely as a result of this grossly disproportionate and unfair media emphasis, not to mention a wildly chaotic and arbitrary primary process riddled with irregularities, we appear to be ending up with two candidates who are more or less despised by the general public. The two front-runners are the most unpopular candidates seen in a generation, or to put it into numbers, Hillary Clinton has a 57 percent unfavorability rating in a recent Quinnipiac poll, while Trump gets a 59 percent unfavorability rating.

Tim Malloy, assistant director of the Quinnipiac University Poll, said, “American voters don’t like either one of the front-runners. The question could be who we dislike the least.”

Perhaps this is why nine out of ten Americans express a lack of confidence in the electoral system and nine out of ten young people want to see other alternatives on the ballot in addition to the Democrats and Republicans.

According to a survey by Data Targeting, which called the results “shocking,” 55 percent of Americans favor having an independent or third party presidential candidate to consider this year, in addition to the two traditional party choices. Of those 29 years of age and younger, 91 percent expressed support for additional choices.

Another survey, conducted May 12-15 by the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research and published May 31, reported that a full 90 percent of voters lack confidence in the country’s political system while 70 percent said they feel frustrated about the 2016 presidential election and 55 percent reported feeling “helpless.” Forty percent went so far as to say that the two-party structure is “seriously broken.”

“It’s kind of like a rigged election,” Nayef Jaber, a 66-year-old Sanders supporter from San Rafael, California, told AP. “It’s supposed to be one man one vote. This is the way it should be.”

According to the survey, 53 percent of voters say that the Democrats’ use of superdelegates is a “bad idea” while just 17 percent support the system. Moreover, most Americans say that neither political party represents the views of ordinary voters. Just 14 percent say the Democratic Party is responsive to the opinions of the average voter while eight percent say the same about the Republicans.

Lost Credibility

Regardless of one’s political views, the historic nature of these numbers should be appreciated, and in some ways may eclipse any other storyline of Election 2016. Basically, the two-party system is losing credibility in an unprecedented fashion, accelerating a general trend that has been growing in America for several years.

For example, five years ago, a Gallup poll found an all-time high of 40 percent of Americans identifying as independents. In 2014, a new record was set, with Gallup finding that an average 43 percent of Americans identify politically as independent, compared to just 30 percent who call themselves Democrat and 26 percent who identify as Republican.

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump speaking to the AIPAC conference in Washington D.C. on March 21, 2016. (Photo credit: AIPAC)

Another Gallup poll last year found that 60 percent of Americans say that a third major political party is needed because the Republican and Democratic parties “do such a poor job” of representing the American people.

But despite this growing trend in public opinion rejecting the two-party system, the Democrats and Republicans enjoy a number of institutional advantages within the U.S. electoral system that protect the status quo.

In addition to the challenges that minor parties face in securing a plurality of votes needed to gain representation in the U.S.’s winner-take-all system (as opposed to proportional representation systems – used in many countries – which grant representation to any party passing a threshold of, say, five percent), there are several additional obstacles that tilt the playing field in favor of the Democrats and Republicans, reinforcing their dominance and their privileged status.

While the two main parties are guaranteed ballot access in all 50 states, for example, competing parties must meet rigorous requirements to even be listed on the ballots, requirements that vary considerably from state to state.

Further, the Democrats and Republicans benefit from taxpayer subsidies in the form of public funds to hold party conventions and private primary elections, which in many cases exclude independents from voting. In 2012, taxpayers shelled out over $600 million for party conventions and primaries, even in states where they are not permitted to vote in the primaries due to registration requirements.

Then there is the massive funding advantage enjoyed by the two establishment parties, which raised over a billion dollars each in the last presidential election. Compare that to just under a million dollars raised by the Green Party in 2012 and $2.5 million raised by the Libertarian Party.

Also, the limited public financing system that exists in the United States only provides funds to parties that receive at least five percent of the popular vote in the previous election, which no third party achieved in 2012. That means that while the major party nominees are eligible to receive up to $96 million in federal funding, third parties receive nothing.

Shutting Out Independents

Further entrenching the two-party system, independents and third parties have no representation on the Federal Elections Commission or Boards of Elections, which are instead controlled by the Democrats and Republicans, and therefore have no voice in setting or enforcing rules of the game. Perhaps even more significantly, the two main parties enjoy a near monopoly of media coverage, and in presidential elections, successfully collude to exclude third party candidates from televised debates.

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk in a West Wing hallway of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden talk in a West Wing hallway of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)

Despite all of these disadvantages, however, the two biggest third parties – the Greens and Libertarians – are receiving considerable support this year, with a recent survey finding Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate, polling at 10 percent. This is roughly twice as high as Johnson’s poll numbers from the 2012 election cycle.

Green presidential candidate Jill Stein was not included in that survey, but with her campaign having succeeded in getting her onto the ballot in states with 290 electoral votes – more than enough to win the presidency – her supporters are calling on pollsters to include her in future surveys.

“With polls showing a majority of Americans want an alternative to Clinton/Trump, there’s no way to justify not including Jill Stein in presidential polls,” states an online petition.

Indeed, with historic and unprecedented numbers of Americans rejecting the two-party system as a whole, it is becoming increasingly conspicuous for the media to pretend that this election is just another politics-as-usual affair in which we are expected to happily choose between “A” and “B.” This is especially the case this year when both major party candidates are tainted by criminal investigations and lawsuits.

According to one tally, Trump has been named in at least 169 federal lawsuits over the years, including the ongoing litigation against his for-profit school, “Trump University,” described by the conservative National Review magazine as a “massive scam.” One of the lawsuits against Trump is going after the presumptive nominee through a provision of the RICO Act, which could lead to criminal charges being filed.

Meanwhile, Clinton is the subject of an FBI investigation and has just been reprimanded by the State Department’s Inspector General who found that she did not comply with the agency’s policies on records in her use of private email server while Secretary of State. She was also criticized for failing to turn over records promptly and for refusing to be interviewed for an investigation into the matter – possible violations of the Federal Records Act and other criminal statutes.

In other words, we are heading into a general election in which the two major party candidates are faced with significant legal problems and could conceivably be facing prison time, and yet for the most part, the media is continuing to present the two-party system as the only game in town, despite the growing indications that Americans are hungry for alternatives.

How this all plays out remains to be seen, but one thing for sure is that this is no politics-as-usual election, and those pundits and pollsters who continue to discount the role of third parties do so at their own peril.

Nat Parry is the co-author of Neck Deep: The Disastrous Presidency of George W. Bush. [This story originally appeared at Essential Opinion, https://essentialopinion.wordpress.com/2016/06/06/campaign-2016-the-two-party-system-loses-credibility/ ]

image_pdfimage_print

40 comments for “Failure of America’s Two Parties

  1. Zachary Smith
    June 8, 2016 at 14:59

    In other words, we are heading into a general election in which the two major party candidates are faced with significant legal problems and could conceivably be facing prison time, and yet for the most part, the media is continuing to present the two-party system as the only game in town, despite the growing indications that Americans are hungry for alternatives.

    I’m in a darned bad mood today, and that remark triggered an especially nasty thought. Why wouldn’t Hillary and her gang be fully prepared for an indictment and eventual impeachment? As part of her personal grand bargain, she’d resign with a full pardon for every crime she has ever committed – especially the selling of her office of Secretary of State. She’d get to keep the many hundreds of millions of dollars in her ‘Foundation’, and somebody at least as bad as her would become President of the United States. Think in terms of Joe Lieberman or Dick Cheney in 2000.

    The VP situation is going to really matter.

    • Dosamuno
      June 9, 2016 at 18:11

      Now I’m in a damned bad mood too.
      Thanks Zachary.

  2. Richard Coleman
    June 8, 2016 at 12:46

    Since voter turnout has been low for my entire lifetime, I think it’s fair to say mistrust of the two-party system isn’t new or recent. In fact, pundits have been crying about it for decades. They understand that mistrust could morph into something far more dangerous. One other point: a “single-party” system could be democratic depending on how it’s run. If it allows factions and groupings and is controlled by the base (and there’s the rub!) it could be a model of democracy. Not likely though……

  3. Christene
    June 8, 2016 at 07:30

    “However [political parties] may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.”
    ~George Washington~

    I read a poll at the end of 2015 that had 26% of the electorate identifying as Democrat, 24% identifying as Republican, and a whopping 45% identifying as an Independents. So what does that say? It says that the American people have overwhelmingly rejected BOTH parties and that was BEFORE the eye opening education we received this year on our joke-of-a-primary season. We now see the Beast for what it is; a cabal of Elitists. A never-ending parade of duplicitous, corrupt, greedy, power-hungry, self-serving little Emperoresses and Emporerors, all expecting us to throw rose petals at their feet as the March by, not realizing that we are all just laughing and pointing at their naked pomposity.

    This election, if there even is one, is not about Democrat vs. Republican, left vs. right, progressive vs. conservative, or any of the million other ways the media will try to pit us against one another as Nov. 8th bears down. This has coalesced into the Establishment vs. the American people. How it will all play out is anyone’s guess. We have entered into waters not chartered for over 200 years, but I have a word of caution for those who sit in high places awaiting for the chaos to erupt and the fear to take hold so they may consolidate their power and script the events;

    We “peasants” may not be as malleable as you may hope and you are far more dependent on us than you will ever let on. We hold you by our purse strings and our weapon of choice is a little thing called consumer spending.

    Just imagine millions of little pocketbooks snapping shut in a conscious act of civil disobedience. Just imagine people opting not to buy those latest tech gadgets made in third world countries by slave labor. Or quietly abandoning their social media accounts and disappearing. Or shunning Amazon, Walmart, Target, and all of those entities that stuff money into the pockets of our political overlords and started to rebuild the small businesses of their local communities. What if people stopped buying all of the corporate B.S. blasted at us 24/7 just checked out. How long would the Beast survive?

    Well stay tuned because millions of Americans are beginning to do just that and I am one of them.

    • Joe Tedesky
      June 8, 2016 at 08:36

      Yes, shut down the profit, and you win.

      Here is an article supporting your statistical percentages;

      http://theantimedia.org/majority-want-independent-trump-clinton/

      Sanders should run as what he is, an independent.

    • Joe Wallace
      June 10, 2016 at 19:51

      Christene:

      “I read a poll at the end of 2015 that had 26% of the electorate identifying as Democrat, 24% identifying as Republican, and a whopping 45% identifying as an Independents. So what does that say? It says that the American people have overwhelmingly rejected BOTH parties . . . ”

      Just to add to your statistics, I read that 48% of the electorate didn’t vote in the last presidential election. Those folks didn’t reject just the mainstream political parties; they rejected a political system that is indifferent to them and fails to represent their views.

  4. Andrew Nichols
    June 8, 2016 at 03:26

    is ready to foist on the American people

    Dont you mean ” on the world” given their role as leader of the Indispensable nation free world yadda yadda? You lot have failed abjectly by not engaging and at the very least giving Sanders (the only candidate who would be considered normal in the resyt of the worlds democracies) Time for us to get to vote for the Emperor.

  5. John
    June 7, 2016 at 22:23

    Extreme right…center right, means nothing….It’s always about profit and market share….It’s as simple as the powers that have global market share will elect whomever follows their demands. Everything else is an emotional side show. A fifth grader is smart enough to see this……

  6. Evangelista
    June 7, 2016 at 21:15

    First, to provide a little real history, the 20th century United States’ “Two Party System” is not an institution, or institutionalized. The so-called “Two Party System” has evolved. Before the Civil War there were large numbers of parties, some state, some regional, some local. The original “Democratic Party” evolved as a third party from the “Democratic Republican’s” party, created by Jefferson, being broken away by Jackson after the negotiated/manipulated House of Representatives award of the Presidency in the election of 1824. And the original “Republican” party emerged as a radical party for the 1860 election, and absorbed a large number of “Jacksonian Democrats”, disaffected by the deterioration of the Democratic party to a party bought by, or controlled by, industrial power and wealth. The radical Republican party was, in turn, taken over by power and wealth after it became corrupted through forcing it post-war “Reconstruction” agenda, from which event (the “Reconstruction”) the Democratic party emerged converted back to a “people’s party”, while the Republican party, corrupted to guardian of ill-got wealth (politically stolen in the “Reconstruction”) became the “guardian of wealth” party.

    From there through the 1930’s Depression, and after WWII, the Republican-Democrat two party system flourished, the roles of each party being support for the wealthy and support for the working, as separate entities. These roles began merging as post WWII wealth-equalization gained ground, until, in the 1960s the difference between became matter of prejudice, conservative prejudice vs. radical prejudice, the Democratic party becoming the party of hedonism and laissez faire, the Republican becoming the party of “moral control” and “values”.

    In the 21st Century the two “parties” merged to become two factions, or denominations, of a single religiously-defined “American Party”. Both factions ascribed to the same doctrine of American Secular Deity, with the difference between being if America’s Deity was endowed by an ecclesiastical Deity or was “Godless”, meaning “God-Unto-Itself”, entirely secular, able to assign and designate its own values, without consultation to moral imperatives or principles, from any source.

    It is the 21st century American Party that is fracturing today, not dividing into two, but fragmenting into at least four, the Old Republican Party (the Neo-con Republican Party, “old” for the 21st century), the New Republican Party (the new “workers’ party, party of the common American, and of ecclesiastically controlled values) , the “Neocon Democratic Party” (the party putting Hillary Clinton forward) and the “Socialist/Fascist Democratic Party”, the radical-fascist party antagonistic to the American Worker that is putting Bernie Sanders forward. It is probably unknown by most Sanders supporters that 20th century fascism (and “Communism”) were both (or, with Italian social-fascism, all three) were socialisms, as “Sanders Democracy”, or “Sanders Socialism” is: Hitler was a Socialist, a National-Socialist, Stalin was a Soviet-Socialist, 20th century socialists, differing from 19th century ones, represented by Eugene Debbs, Jack London and G.B.Shaw. The Sanders campaign shows its 20th century socialism roots in its acceptance of aggressive physical violence against those of differing views that its proponents target with intention to coerce by force, instead of to oppose politically. There is no difference between black-shirt, brown-shirt and Bern-shirt physical aggressions and attacks against opponents and their rallies: Such aggressions and attacks are twentieth century European Socialist tactics being carried forward into the twenty-first century, and into the United States.

    The problem in the United States in the 21st century is not in the political parties, or their devisions, it is in the aggressive, violent and coercive methods adopted, which are 20th century European.

    • MS
      June 8, 2016 at 10:32

      The fascist party is the Donald Trump movement, maybe you should look into what is not shown on TV and then decide what you are talking about. The main two parties failed to listen to their constituents and ignored working people and middle class. Corruption is a problem and it is sad that many people do no really want to see how it effects us. You do not call Teddy Roosevelt fascist, if the system is broken, one should strive to fix it. If broadcasters are allowed to lie and mislead people, the divisions will be there. The divisions were working well for people behind the scenes and it is short sided to label people just because it suits somebody’s purpose. Without real investigative journalism and independent thinkers there cannot be any improvement. Luckily there are smart people seeing the issues and willing to do something about (even people like founder of Home Depot sees that there is huge problem with hourly wages, stagflation, income inequality and lack of opportunity, education and we should discuss the issues and find solutions before we point fingers and label people, most of them blocked out of corporate media). We need t approach issues without the ideological nonsense emposed on viewers by corporate media

    • Dosamuno
      June 8, 2016 at 11:00

      Jesuseffenchrist: What a pile of nincompoopery!
      Almost every detail in this comment is so oversimplified, so wrong that it would take me all day to deconstruct it.

      1. “…in the 1960s the difference between became matter of prejudice, conservative prejudice vs. radical prejudice, the Democratic party becoming the party of hedonism and laissez faire, the Republican becoming the party of ‘moral control’ and ‘values’.

      This is the Evangelist’s Christian mythology applied to American history. Under both parties, foreign policy has been identical: enforce the Monroe Doctrine in the Americas; expand the empire everywhere else. It has been guided by the hands of the Dulles brothers, Henry Kissinger, and Zbigniew Brzezinski.

      “Hedonism and laizzez faire”? I don’t know where to start in a rebuttal of such utter nonsense. American puritanism has also been a constant. Has there ever been a president that did not deliver a speech that included references to God and America’s special relationship to Him?

      Hedonism? Laissez faire? What the hell are you talking about?

      2. “There is no difference between black-shirt, brown-shirt and Bern-shirt physical aggressions and attacks against opponents and their rallies: Such aggressions and attacks are twentieth century European Socialist tactics being carried forward into the twenty-first century, and into the United States. “

      Yes. We need to return to the good solid Catholic values of the 16th Century. War against the Protestants. Burn heretics and infidels at the stake. Bring back the Inquisition!

      To equate Debbs and Sanders with fascism is deranged. But as the poster calls himself “Evangelista”, one should not be surprised.

      3. “The problem in the United States in the 21st century is not in the political parties, or their devisions, it is in the aggressive, violent and coercive methods adopted, which are 20th century European.”

      No: One of the major problems of the world is in the fanaticism of some Muslims, Zionists, and Christians who are willing to incinerate the world in order to impose their views on the rest of us by reverting to ‘aggressive, violent, and coercive tactics’. Evangelista is among them.

      • Evangelista
        June 8, 2016 at 20:26

        Hi Dosamuno,

        I don’t garner a lot of sense from reading your comment; a lot of it reads like raving, throwing in names and references to current news-gobble that I wrote nothing about. nevertheless I enjoyed reading.

        To begin, you have to recognize political parties to either support a point of view or purpose, or represent reaction to another party, point of view or purpose. Republicans and Democrats in the 1960s were head-butting sport-teams, each holding its elected extreme. Read up on the ‘liberalism’ of the 1960s, you will recognize its (in ‘conservative’ opponent view) ‘hedonism’ and ‘laissez faire’, and recognize the in return ‘conservative’ ‘moral control’ and ‘values’ (a ‘self-righteousness’ package that included ‘patriotism’). Political positions are always in current context. Munroe, Kissinger, Brzinski, Dulles and ‘Christian mythology’ (whichever of about a million conjurations of the last any particular political contex might be ‘raising aloft’) are all bullshit, button-words, chord-words, jargon-du-jour. If you wanted to make something of any of the policies they referenced in context you needed to stand up and do it when they were context. And expect flack: Donald Trump would have done so, and would have enjoyed the flack. It is one of his positives. He is doing so with the current equivalents, today, and flacking back at the flackers (who are flacking idiots, and so are flacking themselves), which makes today’s Trump camapaign fun, fun, fun, and also important.

        Consider, for a for-instance, the current (early June, 2016) feathers-and-fur-fly-up over Trump demanding an apparently potentially in confliction judge (Hispanic heritage, Hispanic cause advocacy background, etc.) recuse himself from a case where a seemingly obvious potential Hispanics Adversary (advocate for a wall and deportation of liberal-loved illegal aliens) is a party, being defined “racist”. (Notice how huge and howling and self-righteously hyperventilate the crying) And then stop, if you are a howler, for a minute to think what Trump is demanding: That where there is appearance of potential for apparent conflict a judge should, for the sake of appearances and to sadeguard the integrity of judiciary impartiality, recuse himself and let a judge not potentially subject for accusations (reasoned or unreasoned) handle the case, to rob any potential accusers of grounds to raise accusations. In saying Donald Trump does not have any such right, and must accept appearance of judiciary prejudice, and lump it, is saying that any black man accused of anything and taken before a magistrate who has a record suggesting prejudice should lump it just like Donald. Trump’s position opens the field for the black man to demand equal right under the law. Is it ‘racist’ for a black man to raise question if a white judge may be a ‘Grand-Dragon’ in black robes instead of white? Or is it hypocrisy to call ‘racist’ when a white person raises the same or equivalent question?

        Regarding your two: Where Bernie Sanders fell into the 20th century Socialist/fascist hole was where he tacitly advocated the fascist National-Socialist attacking and breaking up, disrupting and physically interfering in opponent parties’ political rallies, by not condemning the interfering actions as over the line from political, and where he thereafter vocally advocated and defended those Nazi-practice reflecting activities by his followers. It is in moving to physical and brute-law coercion that socialisms, like Hitler’s National-Socialism and Stalin’s Soviet Socialism, drop over into fascism, dictatorship ‘for the workers’ own good’ and all the rest.

        Note that I did not connect non-fascist socialists, Debbs, London, Shaw, to fascism. They did not advocate aggressive force in their advocacies of what they saw as socio-economic necessity socialism. You seem to have made the connection, then assigned it to me. Nor did I anywhere advocate ‘return’ to 16th century ‘Catholicism’ or ‘Inquisition’. I will, however, advocate for return to real, old-fashioned 7th century Mohammedan Islam, the Islam of the Prophet Mohammed, who was a republican, which means a principled democrat, whose Allah was the keeper of the principles.

        Finally, to appreciate the historical context of the ‘Trump phenomenon’ of the 2016 I suggest you review the history of the Jackson era, from the election of 1824 to the elections of 1828 (when Jackson created the Democrat Party and ‘Jacksonian Democracy’ was born) and 1832. For perspective on the Democratic Party of today, and its deterioration, continue reading through the 1830s and 1840s and 1850s, as wealth jumped on the coat tails of the popular party’s success and then climbed onto the back, as it has done again to the same party in this century. Note that my references here are to economic issues (what Trump is running on), not to war issues, which your references reference, but that Trump is deprecating. (Note that ‘a strong military’ without war advocacy is a system of ‘respectable’ welfare).

        • Erik
          June 8, 2016 at 21:21

          There is no cause to lump Hitler and Stalin into socialism. Hitler’s “National Socialism” was an undefined phrase, an attempt to gain socialist support for a fascist party, because Germany was 40% socialist in 1933: Hitler hated socialism and communism, blaming the socialists for the defeat in WWI (they signed the armistice).

          Similarly one cannot include Stalin’s communism in socialism. The communists were forced to use a secretive cellular militancy to displace Tzarism, and limited participation to protect their programs from counter revolution. Nothing else would have worked there, or in China. The US Revolution would not have succeeded tactically if we had faced a totalitarian police state rather than 18th century England, so Russian and Chinese communism were necessitated by their historical circumstances. But that is not generally true of socialism elsewhere in modern times.

          The right wing quite falsely identifies socialism and communism, and falsely insists that communism and socialism must be totalitarian, to oppose socialism for their own purposes in the US. The right wing argument is at best propaganda for the naive, and does not withstand historical examination.

          • Evangelista
            June 9, 2016 at 20:43

            Erik,

            You need to red some actual history of the German Third Reich, as opposed to the propaganda Histories of Hitler’s ‘cleansing’ of his Reich’s Jewish ‘economic enemies’ (who included Communists and others along with the Jews), also some actual history of pre-Hitler Germany, especially from WWI through the Weimar Republic, to learn what Hitler’s National-Socialist government pushed into power from, had to work with and did. All of that German enthusiasm showcased in “Triumph of the Will” did not derive from a Germanic slavering to slaughter Semites, as the histories you appear to be inculcated by depict. The National-Socialists’ social and economic recovery programs brought the German population to accept, and dismiss, the radical and coercive components of the Nazi program (the “United Europe” “recovery” of “German owned” territories also helped, especially before it lead to full war).

            Stalin had little, if anything, to do with the Communist revolution in Russia that overthrew the Tzar. Stalin came after Lenin, who was Communist converting t Socialist, and the Empire Stalin built, that was to become a world-empire, an international-socialist Moscow-Central-Authority administered state was Stalin’s, not Lenin’s, Trotsky’s, or any other Communist revolutionaries’ ambition.

            Your “right wing” blather is current political blather. It is not even propaganda. As Jack London pointed out, in 1909, or thereabouts, Socialism, originally anathema to “conservatives” (business/ bourgeois classes) was then, when he was writing, already being adopted (and claimed their own original idea) by those classes, who had found “usefulness” (a handle to catch and hold the ‘unruly’ masses) in it.

            Real history is lots more faceted, and more fun, than propaganda. But the propagandists use posters, where historians use books, and books have to be sought, and take longer to read…

        • Dosamuno
          June 9, 2016 at 17:19

          Evangelista:

          1. “Hedonism” and “permissiveness” are often code words used by those who oppose access to sex education, birth control, and abortion; women’s rights; gay rights; and the right to reject nationalism and religion.

          2. I agree with Eric’s observation that Hitler’s national socialism was not socialism and cannot be equated with Soviet socialism. And rereading this passage,

          “It is probably unknown by most Sanders supporters that 20th century fascism (and “Communism”) were both (or, with Italian social-fascism, all three) were socialisms, as “Sanders Democracy”, or “Sanders Socialism” is: Hitler was a Socialist, a National-Socialist, Stalin was a Soviet-Socialist, 20th century socialists, differing from 19th century ones, represented by Eugene Debbs, Jack London and G.B.Shaw…”

          it still isn’t clear to me that you intended to distinguish Debbs, London, and Shaw from Hitler.

          3. I reject your assertion that “the Sanders campaign shows its 20th century socialism roots in its acceptance of aggressive physical violence against those of differing views that its proponents target with intention to coerce by force..” I reject the claim about Sanders—whom I do not support; and I reject the generalization about “all 20th century socialist movements.”

          4. Finally, I reject this statement:

          “The problem in the United States in the 21st century is not in the political parties, or their devisions, it is in the aggressive, violent and coercive methods adopted, which are 20th century European.”

          It’s racist—don’t you agree? I think the problems of the last five centuries have been colonialism and unbridled capitalism.

          • Dosamuno
            June 9, 2016 at 18:08

            “I think the problems of the last five centuries have been colonialism and unbridled capitalism.”

            ..and, of course, religion.

          • Evangelista
            June 9, 2016 at 20:52

            Dosamuno,

            “Permissiveness” is what Republicans meant in their deprecative use of “hedonists” to define Democrats in the 60s-70s.

            See my comment to Erik re the 20th C. socialisms.

            subsituting aggressive violence (the stuff of confrontation and insurrection) for aggressive rhetoric (the substance of political dialogue) is the bane of political democractic process.

            And, the problem has been imperialism, for the last ten thousand years, at least, which includes colonial and religious imperialisms. People wanting to not let others think, too…

          • Dosamuno
            June 10, 2016 at 09:27

            Evangelista:

            Dueling with you is challenging, educational, and fun.
            A few final arguments:

            1. The party system in the United States emerged from the split in the 1790s between Thomas Jefferson and Alexander Hamilton.

            2. “Real history” doe not exist. One learns this from being a juror or from viewing Kurosawa’s masterpiece, THE RASHOMAN.
            Some witnesses are more credible than others. Some are more convincing.

            3. The success of Nazism was not merely due to economics: it was also due to the support of the Pacelli faction of The Catholic Church, Hitler’s brand of eugenics proclaiming Germans übermenschen, the brutal injustices of the Treaty of Versailles, militarism, the money and support of German and American industrialists, and Hitler’s charisma.

            A friend, whose father was a professor of philosophy from Germany, told me that his father had shouted “Sieg Heil!” along with thousands of other Germans during a Hitler speech—and would then ask himself afterwards, “What the hell was I shouting about?”

            4. Your nom de plume is a provocation and a clue to the foundation of your arguments.

            5. Despite the tone of some of my responses, I like and respect you, your erudition, and your civility—a quality I often lack.

    • Rikhard Ravindra Tanskanen
      June 8, 2016 at 19:29

      “The radical Republican party was, in turn, taken over by power and wealth after it became corrupted through forcing it post-war “Reconstruction” agenda, from which event (the “Reconstruction”) the Democratic party emerged converted back to a “people’s party”, while the Republican party, corrupted to guardian of ill-got wealth (politically stolen in the “Reconstruction”) became the “guardian of wealth” party.”

      So being tough on Confederates is a bad thing? Are you completely stupid? And the Democrats were the “people’s party” because they were racist vermin? When they got back power, they took away the vote from blacks AND poverty-stricken whites! That’s not a “people’s party!”

      Also, I would think the Republicans only became the “guardian of wealth” party after the “Southern Strategy”. I conclude you are a racist bigot.

    • Joe Wallace
      June 10, 2016 at 19:30

      Evangelista:

      Your characterization of Sanders’ supporters as “the radical-fascist party antagonistic to the American Worker that is putting Bernie Sanders” is just so much bullshit. Please explain how the policies Sanders advocates are “antagonistic to the American Worker.” The tiny minority of Sanders’ supporters who got aggressive (mostly online) were condemned by the candidate, who made it clear that he opposes “aggressive physical violence against those of differing views.”

      • Evangelista
        June 13, 2016 at 21:28

        Hi Joe,

        1. “The American worker” is the American who just wants a job, who perceives himself, or is determined to be, independent and a ‘net contributor’ (a taxpayer) to his government, paying for the services he utilizes and then some for ‘necessarily dependent’ people (his/her perception of who these are may vary). He/she would espouse free education, since he/she sees it an investment (often for experience with or benefit received of the WWII G.I.Bill). He/she objects to having jobs taken away by ‘managers’ who hire illegals or ‘tentatives’ because they will work illegal (longer) hours to hold a job (the ones I have spoken to all hated the manager and did not blame the ‘Mexican’ the manager replaced them with) and having jobs in ‘America’ (the U.S.) go to ‘bilingual applicants’ because they are ‘bilingual’, leaving ‘Americans’ jobless (this goes for whole crews, too, one of which, a fire-crew, was ‘unhired’, by the U.S. Forest Service, because the forepersons “would not be able to communicate with Spanish-speaking fire-crews.”) Again, the objects of invective are almost always the “bureaucratic assholes” responsible for the policies, not the ‘Mexicans’, who they don’t blame for going for the jobs, but want got “the fuck out of the country so we (Americans who want to work) can work here.” Bernie Sanders represents the “asshole class”, who “don’t live down in real reality.” It is action-and-reaction, when you introduce an artificial standard that barriers local population out of its home job market you are going to get reaction, and the reaction is going to escalate, and accelerate, to unruly, reactionary and violent, not only against the competing elements, but also against the “asshole” class they recognize responsible for screwing them, the working class, and screwing up their ‘America’. For these “racism”, “justice”, “LGBT”, “climate change” and all the rest are sops and attacks, not ‘real’ issues and not relevant to real reality (“You have to have some job security before you can bullshit about bullshit.” and “The environment can fuck itself is I’m fucking freezing.”) Bernie is not addressing at this level, so he is “fairying around in elite-o-land.”

        2. The protests at Trump rallies, in which the protestors began being belligerent and escalated to generating violence, both with the intent to interrupt, disrupt and break up the rallies of the rival political faction the protestors targeted, are the sources for my characterization of Sanders supporterss as belligerent, violent,fascist and Nazi style “Bern-shirt” instigators and perpetrators of political speech suppressive violence. Check available history of 20th century Mussolini Fascist and Hitler Nazi political rally breaking-up and violent interfering practices for source for my comparison. Bernie Sanders’ shrugging off of his followers’ Nazi-style practices, acceptances of them and justifyings of them are of record in his responses. It is for those, in lieu of condemnations and calls to tone down the antagonism and keep the campaign exchange political, that I assign Sanders to have succumbed to the “20th century European Socialist” model.

        Note that 21st century American “liberalism” is not legitimately liberal because it is coercive, inclined to coerce and intent to coerce, to force its ‘liberal’ agenda on ‘opponents’. Note that protest movements commonly fall into coercing, because that is where the adrenalin-generation-action sequence is. Just confronting, and getting hassled, and maybe arrested generates adrenalin, but in situation where the adrenalin only leaves the protestor shaking. Confronting with hassling, with anger, violence, antagonism, even where short of throwing and breaking, provides outlet for the adrenalin, letting the protestor do some ‘directed’ shaking. it is why cops like to sweep, swing-stick and clear out protestors, instead of only standing and holding a line. So, what can we say? everybody prefers a riot…

  7. madrino
    June 7, 2016 at 19:55

    Lesser of 2 evils is still evil. Watch http://metanoia-films.org/lifting-the-veil/

  8. Franklin Billera
    June 7, 2016 at 19:29

    School children have no clue as to for whom to vote. Civics is not taught any more. Students in the upper levels should have to discuss in class the events of the day. The problem is the ignorance of the voters.

  9. Lebensluge
    June 7, 2016 at 19:23

    I would contest the conclusion that there are two parties in the US, there is but the one party that represents the oligarchy. The fraud of what is offered as the electoral process exists only to provide “legitimacy” to the corporate elite. The MSM provides the mouthpiece of the empire and ensures that “debate” of the issues is confined to the defined sideboards of the oligarchy. Should a candidate of the people dare to run and in particular threaten the status quo, the empire is structured to nullify that candidate through the controlled process ( Fed election commission – a subset of the two party/one party system)
    I hoped that the people could rise above the slime floating on the dead pool of the US electoral process, but it appears this will not happen. My only option at this point is to vote Green Party in the general election. As much as I despise Trump I cannot use my voice to legitimize Clinton (a war criminal and corporatist). When she loses to Trump, which she will by a large margin, the pundits on the “left” will blame those who voted for Jill Stein. I’m good with that. I, along with others shouldered the blame when Gore lost to Bush – but it wasn’t I who failed to fight for a true count of all votes, it wasn’t I who chose Lieberman as a VP running mate.
    Yes the one party system is solidly in control of the three corrupt branches of government and the so called fourth estate only serves the empire, the protector of its right to issue propaganda that further perpetuates the false story of a democracy. 2016 is the culmination of this consolidation of power, now all that remains is for the voters to again legitimize a corrupt state.

    • Rodney Wickersham
      June 8, 2016 at 17:39

      I disagree on a few, a very few minor details in your statement. Other than that I’m glad to see that reality is not lost on the entire population of my country. Discussions of the third party effect are nothing but a pipe dream, it will never be allowed to develop. We have 6 parties that actively participate now. I doubt many of the readers here could name more than 3 of them.

    • Joe Wallace
      June 10, 2016 at 19:13

      Lebensluge:

      Bravo! Well stated!

  10. Brett
    June 7, 2016 at 19:07

    I absolutely agree that major 3rd (4th & 5th) parties are needed. My only disagreement with that article concerns toothpaste. The variety of choice there is also an illusion as 90% of the toothpaste is made by two companies under a variety of different names. In fact, with all the consolidations and mergers in the US, all of our “choices” are basically choosing the same product under a different name. Very much like the Democratic/Republican dichotomy.

    • Joe Wallace
      June 10, 2016 at 19:11

      Brett:

      Do you mean to tell me I’ve been duped? There’s no difference between “Tooth Whitening” Crest and “Cavity Protection” Crest?

  11. Dosamuno
    June 7, 2016 at 18:32

    Is Jill Stein black?
    Can she fly?

    Tweedledum and Tweedledee
       Agreed to have a battle!
    For Tweedledum said Tweedledee
       Had spoiled his nice new rattle.

    Just then flew down a monstrous crow,
       As black as a tar-barrel!
    Which frightened both the heroes so,
       They quite forgot their quarrel.

    (Through The Looking Glass)

  12. Dr. Ibrahim Soudy
    June 7, 2016 at 18:26

    It is “Idiot America”, stupid!

    • J'hon Doe II
      June 9, 2016 at 08:14

      For the record — White Hispanic and Latino Americans

      In the United States, a White Hispanic is an American citizen or resident who is racially white (i.e., of primarily European descent) and of Hispanic descent. White American, itself an official U.S. racial category, refers to people “having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, the Middle East, or North Africa” who reside in the United States.

      The U.S. Census Bureau asks each resident to report the “race or races with which they most closely identify.”
      White Americans are therefore referenced as “White Hispanic” and “Non-Hispanic Whites,” the former consisting of White Americans who report Hispanophone identity (Spanish Hispanic Latin America), and the latter consisting of White Americans who do not report Hispanophone ancestry

      A small minority of White Hispanics in the United States of America today is descended from original Spanish colonists who settled the so-called “internal provinces” and Louisiana of New Spain. As the United States expanded westward, it annexed lands with a long-established population of Spanish-speaking settlers, who were overwhelmingly or exclusively of white Spanish ancestry (cf. White Mexican). This group became known as Hispanos. Prior to incorporation into the United States of America (and briefly, into Independent Texas), Hispanos had enjoyed a privileged status in the society of New Spain and later in post-colonial Mexico.

  13. J'hon Doe II
    June 7, 2016 at 17:33

    The failure is & has been, for years,
    the superior race protocol / which has been
    and is the bedrock foundation
    of life in these ‘united states of america’.

    Look at Trump’s failure to think–

    comment on the failure of sight

    of the very white-looking man

    Positioned by a deviant governor

    blamed via name recognition
    without actual visualization

    Assessed the judge “a Mexican” and
    seeking to disqualify a Federal Judge

    a “white-skinned” republican judge.

    is this a vision of the dead burying the dead???
    have you seen a photo of the judge-in-question???

    what kind of fool am I… ?

    • Dosamuno
      June 7, 2016 at 18:34

      what kind of fool am I… ?

      I dunno.
      However you are a lousy poet.

      • Erik
        June 7, 2016 at 19:50

        Too severe, Dosamuno. It could be more organized, but we can be patient.

  14. Realist
    June 7, 2016 at 15:08

    Since the Republicans are an extreme right party and the Democrats have evolved into a center-right party (replacing the old Republican party), the niche to be filled by a new major party should be on the left (progressive/liberal), just how far left is the $64,000 question. It should recruit presidential candidates like Dennis Kucinich, Elizabeth Warren, or Sherrod Brown, i.e., from the liberal wing of the Democratic party, rather than movement radicals who will be perceived as too extremist (whether they are or not) by most voters. Basically, I guess what I am saying is that both the Democratic and Republican parties are probably poised to split, with the far right retaining the Republican label, but more moderates from among their numbers fusing with the center-right Democrats, and, as we have already seen, supporting Hillary’s corporatist/warmongering positions. Those progressive/liberal Democrats who cannot stomach such a scenario will break with the Democrats and form a new leftist party incorporating many Greens and other leftist independents. Libertarians who used to self-identify as Republicans may just re-align with the new leftist party. In any case, it would prove interesting and useful to see the electorate re-sort itself out in a system that incorporates a new major party, with an actual chance of winning office. Perhaps after the next major economic crash or real war (not a proxy war) in which America actually takes a hit because it got too big for its britches and none of the usual actors have any credibility remaining with the electorate.

    • Dosamuno
      June 7, 2016 at 18:30

      “There is only one party in the United States, the Property Party … and it has two right wings: Republican and Democrat.”

      Gore Vidal

  15. Joe Tedesky
    June 7, 2016 at 15:00

    I have been giving some thought to an idea that was presented by one of our commenters on this site. Bill Bodden makes a good case whereas if the majority would vote for a third candidate how this would rob both affluent candidates of their going into office with any reasonable sense of having the populace vote behind them. Yes, at least take away the winners political capital. Also we should elevate a third party, and send a message to the elites, how we are mad as hell, and we won’t put up with it anymore.

    • J'hon Doe II
      June 7, 2016 at 16:09

      A ‘third party’ must needs be an absolute arbiter/weigher of scales

      not as like Palestinian/Israeli brutally unequal codes-of-law.

      “The Art of Creative Thinking” (Gerard I. Nierenberg)

    • Tristan
      June 7, 2016 at 17:43

      Interesting idea, “Political Capital”, however since the majority of the elected representatives we have no longer need such, be that the President or a senator, I doubt that such capital really matters. As the system is now visibly so controlled by the party apparatus and colluded with by the corporate media (who are inside partners with both parties via “donations” and representative corporate individuals finding key placements on committees, staffs, and lobbying firms) the only capital that matters to the Villagers is $$, capital. The US electoral system needs to be recognized as the corrupt beast it is. No fixing from the inside will end the domination of the two parties which are just one more party than one party.

      As was pointed out in the article, these two parties have created a system which is shielded from the voice/votes of the citizenry. Until political capital has real value, based upon popular support due to a candidate’s campaign to embody and act in the will of the voters, which is presently inherently corrupted by the two party system, the citizenry will be forced to continually choose between “A Douche and a Turd.” Mad as hell voters doesn’t convince the two parties that anything should change, just the advertising campaign, the message, it is the status quo that matters, the preservation and expansion of the present economic system is paramount.

    • Bill Bodden
      June 7, 2016 at 18:41

      A majority vote for “none of the above” should just be a first step. This nation and other parts of the world afflicted by its pursuit of empire for Wall Street and the rest of corporate America need complete revamps of the political and economic systems and an upgrade of the moral standards of its citizens from their currently abysmal low level. There are already people and organizations working towards these revamps and upgrades. We just need to get more people on board. A majority vote for “none of the above” might just be the wake up call that is needed.

Comments are closed.