Building the Opposition: There is No Second Party in a One-Party State

I have remarked before that Democrats and Republicans never sound so much the same as when they drone on about how different they are. Similarly, the difference between the Democrat and the Republican vanishes when they seek to dissuade others from engaging in third party and independent opposition to the reigning political status quo and duopoly system of government. Consider the way in which Democratic and Republican ideologues exploit the constitution in their efforts to justify the ongoing tyranny of the two-party state. Democratic Party ideologue Booman of the Booman Tribune:
We have a two-party system that is driven by the first past the post winner-take-all federal elections that were created by our Constitution . . . The Democratic Party is the only organization standing in this country that can be trusted to serve the interests of business or labor or the big guy or the little guy.
On the other side of the duopoly divide, we have, for instance, Republican Party ideologue Donald Douglas at American Power:
my concern is that the tea party movement will essentially become a populist third party movement . . . given the historical record of third parties in our structural two-party system . . . Our movement needs to work within the structural constraints of the single-member, winner-take-all system.
The argument that the Democratic-Republican two-party state is the inevitable result of plurality voting would be convincing were it not for the fact that the the so-called two-party system has degenerated into a one-party state at local, state and federal level polities across the United States. Ironically, then, by their own logic, we should expect to see a rise in third party and independent political forces at the local, state and federal levels clear across the country. I've made this point before in arguing for the necessity of intellectual independence from duopoly ideology, but there are some new developments on this front among Massachusetts Greens. The liberal Commonwealth is obviously considered a Democratic stronghold. The state legislature is dominated by Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 144 to 15 in the House and 35 to 5 in the Senate. Yet, this breakdown is highly unrepresentative of Massachusetts voters, over 50% of whom are unaffiliated with either of the major parties. As in so many other states across the nation, the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government has here degenerated into a one-party state that is clearly incapable of adequately representing its voting population. At the Green Mass Group, Green Dem makes that case that the Green Party is the rightful opposition party in the Bay State. Via Ross Levin at IPR:
If the Green Party became a dominant party here in Massachusetts it would not only force the Democratic Party more to the left but maybe even the Republicans . . . We have so many races in Massachusetts where the incumbent or Democratic candidate running unopposed. We have 200 seats in the House and Senate combined and 21 of them are held by Republicans.

In 2008 there were 9 contested elections for State Senate out of 40 and only one of them had a Green-Rainbow candidate. In 2008 there were 40 contested elections for State House out of 160 and we had ZERO Green-Rainbow candidates . . .

It takes 150 signatures to get on the ballot for State Representative and 300 for State Senator. We collect 20,000+ every time a member of the Green Party runs for Governor and LT. Governor I think we can collect at least that many for the down ballot races. If we did that for just the House races we would get at least 133 candidates on the ballot. Or we could get 40 Senate candidates and 50+ House races.

The party needs to rethink its strategy because we will never win the Governorship or a Federal Senate/House seat without elected officials in lower positions. I'm not saying don't run but I am saying do two things at once get signatures for both at the same time or just focus on the lower races. One thing is clear the Green Party can easily become the opposition party here in Massachusetts.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but third party and independent activists may stand the best chance of success in defeating the major parties where they appear strongest!

No comments: