On Courage: Political Calculus as Political Cowardice among Apologists of the Two-Party State

At Democratic Underground, Time for Change provides a short history of progressive third parties in the United States, from the rise of the Republicans in the mid-nineteenth century to that of the Green Party in the late 1990's, and argues for the necessity of progressive third party activism to counter the corporatist agenda of the ruling Democratic-Republican two-party state. Balancing the concerns of Democratic lesser-evilists with those of principled progressives, he concludes:
The corporate takeover of today's Democratic Party is far from complete, and as a whole, the Democratic Party is still much better and much more progressive than the Republican Party. It is right to be cautious about voting for 3rd party candidates when we risk giving control of our country to the Republican Party by doing so, as happened in the 2000 presidential election.

But it is also right to be very concerned about the current direction of the Democratic Party. And by the same token it is right to consider how support for progressive 3rd party candidates could be used to push the Democratic Party in a more progressive direction. That is what the Progressive Party of the early 20th Century did, and consequently we saw a great many progressive ideals passed into law . . .

Our country is hungry, starving for a new type of political party, a party that is free of corporate control. The history of third parties in our country shows that they can accomplish a great deal . . . It could happen again, any time.
Indeed, it could. And for those who support the dictatorship of the ruling Democratic-Republican Party and the duopoly system of government, this possibility represents something approaching an existential threat. Among Democrats and Republicans, the dismissal of third party and independent political activism as the definition of political irrelevance or counter-productivity thinly veils the underlying fear that motivates their political activity. Examples abound. Considering the future of the tea party movement at Right Wing News, Donald Douglas comes right out and says it:
I'm especially worried that the tea parties coalesce into a formal third-party movement to challenge the Democrats and Republicans in the two-party system.
On the other side of the duopoly divide, Jane Hamsher's criticism of the Democratic Party's corporatist agenda has made her a target of ire among progressive establishmentarians. Responding to her critics, she writes:
the editor of the Nation is granting its legitimacy to a post which attempts to stifle criticism of the president and dismisses it as “Naderite,” equating the “progressive agenda” with “what’s politically advantageous for the President.”
Hamsher's apparent surprise at this reveals one of the many self-deceptions that form the psycho-ideological basis of the two-party state. Partisans of the Democratic and Republican Parties cannot be anything other than apologists of the ruling order and the political status-quo. That they convince themselves otherwise does not change this simple fact. Their concern with ensuring that everything changes just enough so that everything remains the same is symptomatic of an unwillingness or inability to relate to the existing political order in a critical register: their political calculus is predicated upon nothing more than political cowardice.

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