Two Party Ideology: A Nest of Contradictions, Paradoxes and Tautology

As expected, following Tuesday's elections, the apologists of the two-party state and the partisans of the duopoly system of government have come out in force against third party and independent activism. And we shall see, yet again, that duopoly ideology is nothing but a nest of contradictions, paradoxes and tautology. Rush Limbaugh argues that "conservatism didn't lose in NY-23":
If this doesn't silence all the third-party people out there, it should. People were mistakenly looking at this as a third-party race, and it wasn't a third-party race (as I keep saying) because there was no primary there. Had there been a primary who knows who would have won. Hoffman might have won.
Limbaugh continues to pretend that Hoffman was not a third party candidate, a position he must hold because otherwise his support of Hoffman would contradict his duopolist prejudice in favor of the Republican Party. Thus, he argues that because NY-23 was a special election and there was no primary, it happened that the conservative candidate ended up on a third party ballot line because the party bosses nominated a liberal Republican. Ironically, however, with his "contrasting" example Limbaugh still ends up in self-contradiction. He continues:
See, New Jersey is a great contrast. In New Jersey, they had a primary. There was a guy that was more conservative than Christie, Steve Lonegan. They had a primary and Christie won the primary and the party got behind the winner.
So, Limbaugh argues that NY-23rd was a special case, that the conservative candidate ended up on third party ballot line because there was no primary, however, his example from NJ shows that even with a primary the conservative candidate did not end up on the GOP ballot line, since Republican voters passed over conservative Lonegan in favor of establishmentarian Christie. Limbaugh's primary argument refutes itself.

Obviously, liberal and progressive partisans of the two-party state are equally dismissive of third party and independent strategy. At Daily Kos, Kos mocks conservative activists who would "rather lose general election races than make gains in Congress with (in their eyes) less-than-perfect Republicans." At A Tiny Revolution, Bernard Chazelle reveals this position for what it is. Considering Kos's analysis together with David Corn's, he writes:
Both embed NY23 within a narrative of power and strategy. As good liberal pundits, they only see a story of suicidal conservatives displaying Palinesque levels of stupidity. They'd rather lose a seat than compromise their principles. Hahaha! Now how dumb is that? Surely no liberals would commit such a sin. They'll go with Blue Dogs and Green Hyenas if that's the road to power . . . I happen to detest virtually every single one of these principles . . . But there's still something to be said about a political movement that would rather lose an election than its principles: a concept completely alien to the liberal establishment.
Next, in an interview with the Christian Science Monitor, Mike Huckabee gave his take on the race, demonstrating that he is nothing more than a duopolist stooge:
Huckabee is against third-party candidates. More often than not, he says, they end up throwing the race to the candidate voters like least. He was surprised that Republican Chris Christie defeated incumbent Gov. Jon Corzine (D) in New Jersey, despite the presence of an independent candidate in the race.

“I continually remind people, if you really don’t like what either of the parties are doing – and there are a lot of people who don’t – pick one that you like a little more than you like the other, that you hate the least, get involved in it, and change it,” Huckabee said. [Emphasis added.]

Though Huckabee is apparently incapable of marshaling anything other than the worn out old lesser-of-two-evils argument, at least he is honest in admitting to the completely reactionary character of duopoly politics. Huckabee, however, reveals the contradiction involved in the big tent circus politics of the Democratic-Republican Party:

“The tent could be big, but it shouldn’t have holes in the ceiling and let the rain come through,” he continued. “What we have to be careful of is, we don’t have a party that says, it has to be just like me and nothing but. Can there be people who don’t have my view on the sanctity of life in the Republican Party? Of course. People who have a different view of marriage than I do? Sure they can. “Can they be Republican? Yes. Will they get my support? No.”

In other words, Huckabee effectively states: I support big tent circus politics, but I won't support anyone whose views significantly diverge from mine; I support a Republican Party that tolerates moderates and liberals, but I do not support moderates and liberals in the Republican Party. It is no coincidence that alleged liberal-progressives such as BooMan at the Booman Tribune agree with Huckabee's stance with regard to duopoly politics:

In our two-party system, Huckabee is entirely correct. But, what if Conservative Party nominee Doug Hoffman had won the special election in Upstate New York? Well...he would have caucused with the Republicans. In fact, he would have run for re-election as a Republican. That's pretty much what would happen to a successful Green Party candidate, too. Maybe they wouldn't run again as a Democrat, but only if, as is done for Bernie Sanders, the Dems agreed not to offer their own candidate . . .

In the long-term, there is merit in campaigning to change our winner-take-all elections. But, until that happens, the only way to actually get different ideas represented in Washington is to elect Democrats and Republicans who espouse those different ideas. [Emphasis added.]

The paradox in the Booman's commentary is readily apparent. He states that: "the only way to actually get different ideas represented in Washington is to elect Democrats and Republicans who espouse those different ideas." The problem, however, is that Democrats and Republicans do not espouse different ideas, they represent the same ideas over and over again; indeed they represent the very same constituencies: corporate donors and the entrenched ruling political class. The two-party system cannot be changed from the inside. If it could, it would no longer exist. To decide to work within the two-party system is to be defeated by it from the outset, it is to decide to become part of the problem.

Finally, at FiveThirtyEight, Nate Silver demonstrates how vapid tautologies are commonly substituted for real analysis by the propagandists of the two-party state. He uses as an example interpretations of the independent vote:

Why did Democrats lose in Virginia and New Jersey on Tuesday? Because independent voters moved against them, say the pundits. This is true, insofar as it goes; Democrats lost independents nearly 2:1 in the gubernatorial race in Virginia, and by a 25-point margin in New Jersey. But it doesn't really tell us very much. It's a lot like saying: the Yankees won the Game 6 last night because they scored more runs than the Phillies. Or: the unemployment rate went up because there were fewer jobs.

In almost every competitive general election, the party that loses the contest has also lost independent voters . . . it's independents who swing the vote, since they represent the overwhelming majority of the votes which are up-for-grabs. This must necessarily be the case . . . But in politics, it's not the proximate cause we're interested in but the ultimate one . . . what caused the independents to move against the Democrats? That's what we're really interested in, since that's what will have implications for future elections.

For those of us who are interested in breaking the two-party electoral duopoly, the question is thus not what caused independents to move against the Democrats, but rather what causes them to continue to vote for Republicans or Democrats? What are the conditions under which Americans will actually liberate themselves from the Democratic and Republican duopoly system of government? In a commentary for Pennsylvania's The Morning Call, columnist Paul Carpenter called on readers to "get angry over electoral monopoly":

At the peak of the Cold War, every American schoolchild was taught that one of the chief horrors of the Soviet Bloc was the way the Communists stacked the deck to get their flunkies voted into positions of power. They staged grandiose elections, which were a farce because it was impossible for anything but the one-party monopoly to have candidates on any ballot.

This may be viewed as a seditious thing to say, but a close look at Tuesday's ballots seems to suggest we are headed in the same direction. On all of the ballots in this region, there was only one major candidate not controlled by the two-party monopoly. The two-party system is better than a one-party system, but not by much. The leaders of both major parties no longer have the slightest interest in serving the needs and wants of average citizens.


Samuel Wilson said...

The key to understanding Limbaugh's apparent contradictions is to recognize that he sees all conservatives as automatic Republicans. As such, their first loyalty is to the party so long as the party plays by the rules. For Limbaugh those rules include holding primaries. On this view, conservative Republicans were right to repudiate the GOP nominee in NY23 because she wasn't chosen properly, while in New Jersey conservatives were right to defer to the winner of the primary even if Christie wasn't the best candidate ideologically. Because Scozzafava wasn't chosen properly, the Conservative uprising was merely an insurgency and not a repudiation of the Republican party, for that Limbaugh cannot allow. He wants conservatives to take over the party, but to remain loyal until they take it over even when primaries prove that a majority of Republicans reject movement conservatism. Now ask yourself why the tribune of movement conservatism should want this?

d.eris said...

I suppose my problem is I just don't see very much evidence, if any at all, that the Republican Party actually stands for anything most people consider constitutive of "conservatism," i.e. limited government, individual liberty, free markets. In a way, I suppose I really don't understand why anyone who defines themselves primarily ideologically, as a conservative or a liberal, or even a moderate, progressive or libertarian, would support either the Republican or Democratic Party.

Samuel Wilson said...

Well, people who define themselves ideologically, perhaps more than most people, crave power, and the two parties have the power. Ideology seems to be a different impulse from the sectarian impulse in religion which results in schisms and cults. It probably depends on the kind of power you want.