The Dialectic of the Subjective and the Objective in the Reproduction of the Two-Party State, Cont'd

Yesterday, considering the dialectic of the subjective and the objective in the reproduction of the two-party state, I wrote that the objective and subjective hurdles to third party and independent politics . . .
stand in a reciprocal relationship with one another that reinforces the prejudice in support of the political status quo: the objective hurdles faced by independent or third party campaigns reinforce the subjective impression that success is all but impossible. The subjective impression itself becomes one more objective hurdle that must be overcome by any successful independent or third party campaign, paradoxically, even despite widespread discontent with the reigning two-party political status quo.
Perhaps we can take this line of thought a few steps further. Since last week's elections, consideration of the potential for future independent and third party insurgencies against the duopoly parties has been a recurring motif in the political media and press. This past weekend, on CBS's Face the Nation, Bob Schiefer discussed the 2009 election results with "Democratic Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman Schultz from Florida and Republican political consultant Ed Rollins." Schieffer eventually suggested the possibility of third party and independent opposition in future elections:
SCHIEFFER: Do you expect, though, in more of these primaries that you’re going to see maybe sometimes third-party conservatives and conservatives of another stripe challenging the incumbent?
ROLLINS: It may occur. The bottom line is it’s not easy to get on ballots most places. There’s the two-party system. [Emphasis added.] New York has multiple parties and you can -- be a conservative candidate without the whole -- but to get on in a lot of places, it’s very, very difficult. I don’t ever underestimate conservative populists. I basically, as you know, managed Ross Perot’s campaign for a brief period, and I watched a movement, because there was a dissatisfaction with the two parties. I think today, this conservative element is out there.
SCHULTZ: The ballot access is not the issue. I mean, they’re going to have a massive civil war just within their own Republican primaries, I mean, all across this country. And it’s already starting to happen. [Emphasis added.]
On Friday, Andrew Napolitano interviewed Ron and Rand Paul while sitting in for Glenn Beck, and touched on the same topic:
Judge Andrew Napolitano: Congressman Paul, we just witnessed a third party candidate running for Congress in Upstate New York . . . will this spawn more and similar efforts by third party, as your son calls them, constitutionalist Republicans around the country?

Ron Paul: Well, I think there will be a lot more, but I think it really made Rand’s point that the leadership is at fault so often. It was the leadership that handpicked their candidate that finally dropped out of the race and became a Democrat, so that makes it a very strong point. So hopefully, they’ll get their act together and get the strong candidates that believe in limited government and believe what they say ought to be followed through with policy. That’s where the real problem is. I just don’t see in the near future a third party taking over, not because it wouldn’t be advantageous, but mainly because the laws are so biased and the credibility in the media. It just doesn’t happen. So the two major parties, which very often aren’t a whole lot different, make it very difficult to compete. You can’t get into debates. You can’t participate, so I think the battle will be fought in the big two parties. [Emphasis added.]
In both instances, the question was whether we will see a rise in third party activism, and in both instances the response was that this is unlikely because the barriers against third party and independent campaigns are too difficult to overcome, but that there will be significant opposition mounted during the primaries. We see here a perfect example of how the "objective hurdles faced by independent or third party campaigns reinforce the subjective impression that success is all but impossible," and hence how the subjective impression becomes, in turn, an objective hurdle to third party and independent advocacy. Consider, however, the context of these two discussions, namely, the congressional race in NY's 23rd and by extension the gubernatorial contest in New Jersey. In the former, a third party candidate successfully marginalized a duopolist opponent and nearly won the race, while in the latter an independent candidate qualified for matching funds and a place in the debates, won the endorsements of influential media outlets etc. Thus, the subjective impression of impossibility functions as an objective hurdle to third party advocacy even when there is no objective basis for that impression. Indeed, perhaps this is the precise moment of its objectivation. The suspicion is therefore warranted that the objective hurdle, the supposed impossibility of breaking open the two-party system, is nothing more than a subjective prejudice. Despite the difficulty of the undertaking, third party and independent candidates for office consistently obtain ballot access, regularly take part in debates, receive coverage and even support in the mainstream media etc. Moreover, they win elections: the Libertarian Party, for instance, elected or re-elected seventeen candidates for office nationwide last week. It is certainly no coincidence, and no surprise, that the primary purveyors of the impossibility thesis are partisans of the Democratic-Republican Party and the reproduction of the political status quo.

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