First Rule of the Dictatorship of the Democratic-Republican Party: Do Not Talk About the Dictatorship of the Democratic-Republican Party

The Democratic and Republican Parties benefit not only from the fact that they have objectively rigged our electoral and political system to their own advantage, but also from the many subjective taboos against criticism of and opposition to that very system. Perhaps some might object here that this latter point is nonsensical: as this site itself demonstrates, there is active opposition to, and a vocal articulation of the deep disgust with the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government across the political spectrum. But it is the language of this opposition and disgust that I wish to draw attention to here. An unspoken rule in this genre of criticism dictates that all calls for third party and independent alternatives to the Democratic and Republican Parties be hedged with qualifiers and softened by the subjunctive. Mainstream critique of the two-party system typically begins with a statement along the following lines: "Maybe it's time we begin thinking about whether or not we should potentially consider possible alternatives to the Democrats and Republicans." I exaggerate, of course, but not by much. It is a positive sign that the force of this taboo seems to weaken almost by the day. In a commentary for, Mike Sager argues that American voters have developed something akin to a political Stockholm Syndrome. He writes:
If nobody else will come out and say it, I will: America’s two-party system has jumped the shark. I know you’re looking for a joke here, but the joke is on us. Party politics is toast . . . it has been very clear for some time: Political parties are corrupt machines, with a mission that puts party survival uppermost at the expense of good governance . . . We have come to an ugly ideological log jam. It’s time to dynamite the channel.

Like our representative democracy itself, parties place an extra layer of distance between ourselves and our government. (Speaking of layers, I won’t even get started on the Electoral College.) Parties make it so people have to chose sides. Parties put us in boxes with labels. Parties cause segregation. You’re either blue or you’re red. You’re either an elephant or a donkey. You can’t be a donkey with an elephant’s trunk. You can’t be an elephant the size of a donkey. You can’t be an individual with a choice. You’re just a foot soldier in the cause—and you have very little say about what that cause is, exactly . . .

The last time I looked, there was no mention of Republicans or Democrats in the U.S. Constitution . . . What if we had no parties at all? What if we were could all be independents? What if we didn’t have to choose between elephant or donkey. What if we could mix and match? . . . When we join a group and subscribe to its values, internalize its message—the way a fan roots for his hometown football team; the way a party member roots for his party—we succumb naturally to the symptoms of a condition well known as Stockholm Syndrome: We identify with our captors, we become true believers, we leave no room to see the world objectively.

Indeed. American voters have been held hostage by the Democratic and Republican Parties for so long, and identify with their captors and tormentors to such an extent, that many simply cannot even imagine a politics which does not aim, first and foremost, at the reproduction of the ruling Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government. But there are positive signs indicating that many have begun to liberate themselves from the mental prison of duopoly ideology. A new Rasmussen poll finds that the number of self-identified Democrats and Republicans continues to decline, while the number of independents continues to rise: "In February, the number of voters not affiliated with either major party increased by half a percentage point as both Republicans and Democrats lost further ground."


Samuel Wilson said...

In American politics the Stockholm Syndrome takes the form of ideology. Too many Americans have convinced themselves that there are only two ways of looking at an issue, whether they mean liberal-vs-conservative or "the wrong way and my way." On top of that we have to deal with the undemocratic mentality that refuses to entrust power to anyone that doesn't have power already. With this in mind, I refuse to be impressed by opinion polls unless respondents express a firm intent to vote independently -- and I still won't buy it until I see results in November.

d.eris said...

I agree with your skepticism regarding the reliability of opinion polling, especially when it comes to third party and indy issues, but, imo, third party and independent advocates should nonetheless emphasize polling that underscores discontent with the duopoly parties, because the ideologues of the duopoly parties certainly aren't going to do it. Plus, such data are also key to winning over voters who would never consider supporting something that isn't already supported by others.

AnarchyJack said...

I think you've nailed it, Damon. Your variation of Chuck Palahniuk's Fight Club theme had the unintended consequence of making me think of something else the Gen-X writer said:

“If you don’t know what you want, you end up with a lot you don’t”

With regard to statistics, I'm a bit ambivalent about them. Supposedly 70% of people are against the health care bill . . . unless a liberal source reports on it, then 68% of people favor a "so-called" Public-Option.

Which means . . . what? That 138% of the people polled strongly disagree with each other about health care?

At the same time, I like numbers. Trot them out with a citation and suddenly, you can see the little spirals spinning in the eyes of your audience, as they are mesmerized by the magic of statistics.

AnarchyJack said...

BTW, and way off the subject of Politics: Dream Theater is opening for Iron Maiden on their North American Tour this summer, which is better than their last opening act, Lauren Harris. Steve Harris' daughter is easy on the eyes, but I've heard American Idol flops that sang better than her.

Anonymous said...

Well written and I agree it is time for Independent candidates to get the support and encouragement to take on the Republicrats.