An Easy Mark: the Folly of Those Who Have Yet to Declare Their Independence From the Ideology of the Two-Party State and Duopoly System of Government

In a post entitled "Third Party Foolishness" at Manly's Republic, Manly takes issue with a comment I had left on a prior thread arguing that freedom and independence from the Democratic and Republican Parties is the very condition of political freedom and independence in the United States today. Unfortunately, however, rather than engage my critique of the two-party state and duopoly system of government, Manly instead argues against the popular proposition that there is no difference between the Democratic and Republican Parties. He begins with a gloss of the Declaration of Independence, the US Constitution and the formation of the duopoly system, and then writes:
What D. Eris apparently fails to understand is that after George Washington left office two major political parties had already formed and evolved to where they stand today. If there really is no substantive, practical difference between the Republicans and the Democrats, then why are the Republicans standing firm against Obamacare? . . . Each party has a clearly delineated political creed that is codified in the established party platform and elaborated upon through the actions and words.
Let's put aside the fact that Manly falls prey to the form of political determinism that results from Democratic-Republican duopolist historical revisionism. As I have argued before, as no party system whatsoever is mandated by the US Constitution, to maintain that political representation in the United States cannot function otherwise than by means of the reigning two-party system is to imply that the Constitution does not in fact constitute a functional representative government. Whatever the differences between the Democratic and Republican Parties, the monopolization and centralization of political power by the Republican and Democratic Parties represents a threat to constitutional republican government: the Democratic and Republican Parties are nothing more than the political organs of narrow factional interests. Despite their differences, and no matter which of them is in the majority, the result of Democratic-Republican Party government is always the same: expansion of the scope and power of the state, empowerment of corporatist interests, ruling elites and the political class, exclusion of alternative solutions and voices, in short, the reproduction of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government. Manly's apparent satisfaction with the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government may stem from his dissatisfaction with actual third party platforms. He continues:
D. Eris talks a good ballgame when it comes to the need for a third party but strikes out at home plate when the times comes to detail the creed of this new party . . . Unfortunately, I have yet to see a coherent political creed from any third party advocate that departs from the usual cliched (and often politically, historically and economically ignorant) ranting of third party proponents calling for “change.”
It is difficult to know where to begin in response to such a statement. As I did not call for any "new party," why would I detail its creed? Furthermore, even if I did call for a "new party," it is highly unreasonable to expect the articulation of a "detailed creed" in a comment to a blog post. In any case, there is little need for a "new party" as there are already numerous third party and independent alternatives to the stooges of the Republican and Democratic Parties' corporatist agendas. Ironically, however, in his criticism of third party politics, Manly does not consider any actual third party platform in particular (for example, the Libertarian Party, the Constitution Party, the Conservative Party, the Independent American Party etc.), but simply repeats the usual cliches and talking points beloved by supporters of the two-party state, whether Democrat or Republican. The spoiler argument, for instance:
From a simple political perspective a third party would be disastrous. Just ask Taft, who lost to Wilson thanks to Teddy Roosevelt’s third party candidacy. Or George H.W. Bush, who lost to Clinton thanks to Perot. The Democrats blame Ralph Nader for Gore’s loss in 2000.
But, thankfully, there is only one presidential election every four years. To view all political contests at all levels of government through the prism, and on the model of presidential politics is to undermine the very principles of decentralized federalism and constitutional republicanism. Beyond that, the spoiler argument is nothing more than the first refuge of the loyal duopolist, to paraphrase Samuel Johnson. As I wrote last August:
If the spoiler argument has any merit, it is to be found in what it reveals about the psychology of disappointed and disenchanted partisans of the duopoly parties. The spoiler argument rationalizes their loss by scapegoating third parties and independents, and thus allows them to avoid assuming responsibility for that loss, while simultaneously robbing their opponents of responsibility for their success.
Manly concludes with a long excerpt from Ronald Reagan's oft-quoted CPAC speech from 1975, arguing against independent and third party activism. This particular excerpt perfectly exemplifies the disconnect between Democratic-Republican duopolist rhetoric and the reality of Democratic-Republican duopolist practice. Consider the first plank in Reagan's speech:
Let us show that we stand for fiscal integrity and sound money and above all for an end to deficit spending, with ultimate retirement of the national debt.
Compare that with the Reagan administration's actual record on this issue, which Reagan himself called his "greatest disappointment." Late last year, Ryan Jaroncyk summed up this particular glaring discrepancy between Republican rhetoric and substance in a post at the Humble Libertarian:
Under Reagan, and a largely Republican Senate and Democratic House, budget deficits and national debt skyrocketed. During his presidency, the budget deficit ranged anywhere from $101 to $236 billion. Compare this with President Jimmy Carter, whose deficits ranged between $40-$74 billion.

On Reagan's watch, the national debt more than doubled, from about $1 trillion to a little over $2 trillion, in real terms. Federal spending grew by 22% in real terms, with military spending accounting for most of the increase. And finally, the US Dollar lost about 6% of its value.

So, as "conservatives" channel the Great Communicator as a catalyst for a GOP rebirth, perhaps they should reconsider. Does the GOP need another leader who increases federal spending, runs huge deficits, adds trillions to the national debt, and devalues the Dollar?

Didn't the GOP just go this route with George W. Bush? Bush, like Reagan, was a champion of tax cuts and limited government, yet he increased federal spending, ran huge deficits, added trillions to the national debt, and devalued the Dollar.
George W. Bush, let's not forget, openly admitted that by the end of his second term in office he had "abandoned free market principles." To reiterate, and in conclusion, the Republican and Democratic Parties do not represent the interests of the people of the United States, but rather those of the Democratic-Republican political class and ruling elite. Anyone who still takes a Republican or Democrat at his or her word is nothing but an easy mark. The primary condition of political freedom and independence today is freedom and independence from subjection to and dependence upon the Democratic and Republican Parties, the two-party state and the duopoly system of government.


Ross Levin said...

Great piece, d.eris!

Ross Levin said...

Also, the Republicans' consistent opposition to Obama does not show ideological difference, but political calculations. They are simply obstructing Congress in order to make Obama look bad, and since there are only two major parties, people will unfortunately feel like they have to turn to the Republicans.

d.eris said...

Indeed, Ross. Since Obama's election Republicans have suddenly begun to remember that there's this thing called the constitution that is supposed to limit the power of the state. Similarly, since Obama's election, Democrats seem to have forgotten that there's this thing called the constitution that is supposed to limit the power of the state.