On the Failure of Democratic-Socialist Strategy and the Advocacy of Its Emulation by Republican Strategists

A popular talking point for demagogic Republican partisans of the two-party state is that the Democratic Party has been overrun by socialists, communists, Marxist-Leninists etc. Outside conservative and Republican circles this claim is, naturally, not taken very seriously in the mainstream. At the same time, however, the leadership of the Communist Party USA have been vocal supporters of the Obama administration and the Democratic majority in Congress, despite the opposition of the party's rank and file (see, for instance, Obama and the Crisis of the Communist Party). There is also historical evidence for the claim. Consider the findings of the article I excerpted in my last post on the third party tradition in American politics. In The Decline of Third Party Voting in the United States, Hirano and Snyder found:
evidence consistent with the claim that electoral support for third parties – mainly left-wing third parties – declined because the Democratic Party co-opted the left-wing policy position beginning with the passage of the New Deal agenda.
H&S offered at least two pieces of evidence in support of this position: the decline in support for left-wing third parties roughly corresponded with the rise in support for the Democratic Party during and after the New Deal; and a non-trivial number of left wing third party candidates for office before the New Deal could be found running in Democratic primaries or running for office as Democrats following the New Deal. One could interpret this movement in a number of ways: 1) the Democratic Party co-opted the policy positions of left-wing third parties thus attracting left-wing third party voters and activists; and perhaps, if one is more conspiratorially minded, 2) left-wing third party activists infiltrated the Democratic Party thus forcing a leftward shift in its policy platform.

Perhaps the most interesting aspect of today's conservative Republican denunciations of the "socialists" and "communists" in the Democratic Party is not their derision of specific "socialist" or "communist" policies but rather their fascination with "socialist" and "communist" political strategy. More than one Red State diarist has suggested that Republicans follow the infiltrationist strategy allegedly implemented by radical socialists in the 1970's. Glenn Beck has stated that the people of the United States need to begin "thinking like the Chinese." And none other than Rush Limbaugh has argued that conservatives should emulate the "radical left":
conservatism is on the ascendancy, it's actually good to be a conservative, and this is the time to reassert control over the Republican Party. It's not going to be easy but the Democrats, the far left didn't go out and form a third party. They took over the Democrat Party.
One would think that supposed conservatives would choose better political role-models for themselves. Nonetheless, this has become a popular argument among Republican partisans of the two-party state who seek to dissuade conservatives and libertarians from engaging in third party and independent political activism. However, the argument is based on a number of false premises, for instance, that socialists and communists successfully infiltrated the Democratic Party, and that Democrats therefore advocate communist and socialist policies.

It may be asserted that the Democrats are implementing policies worthy of a corrupt Communist regime – let's say, for instance, the bank and auto bailouts, warrantless wiretapping etc. – but many of these are hold-overs from the previous Republican administration. Therefore, either the Republican Party is also overrun with communists or the Democrats are not implementing communist policies. But it is entirely clear that the Democrats do not even advocate left-wing policies (for instance, universal single-payer health care, which is supported by the Communist, Socialist and Green Parties), but rather utilize these policy positions as bargaining chips in a debate decided by subsidiaries of national and multi-national corporations and industries (i.e. Democratic and Republican politicians). Indeed, it is absurd to argue that the Democratic and Republican Parties have implemented communist or socialist policy if only because in the United States corporations are not owned by the government, rather the government is owned by corporations.

Consider, then, the irony of the fact that Republican ideologues are not only advocating that conservatives and libertarians emulate socialist and crypto-communist political strategy, but they are advocating the emulation of a failed socialist and crypto-communist political strategy, and calling it a return to the spirit of the founding fathers!

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