Political Psychology and the Perversion of Political Representation Under the Conditions of the Two-Party State

In a thought-provoking guest post at The Hankster, Evan considers "Party Politics from a Psychological Perspective." Relying upon C.G. Jung, Plato and the principles of modern physics, Evan argues that the way we conceive of human relations forms a primary foundation for what goes by the name of reality. He writes: "It should be a vital concern to inspect these foundations closely; for these relations just happen – and not until they are consciously considered can they be changed." In the politics of the reigning two-party state, Evan sees an instantiation of the ancient philosophical opposition between the One and its double, the Other. On the basis of Jung, he postulates the necessity of a third term that would disrupt the comfortable but discomforting equilibrium into which the system has settled:
Frequent attempts by the two-party system to keep a third party off the ballot in many states, the stagnation Congress represents as a result of such division, and the ineffectiveness of government in providing the individual with basic protections all conform to a general trend. . . .

our representatives are elected – but not unless they are first approved by the two parties. Our representatives are elected by the parties, and that is who they represent. Who is representing us? I think we will have to find an independent party for that.
Reading Evan's piece, I couldn't help but be reminded of the simplest taxonomy of political regimes, developed already by the ancient Greeks, according to the principles of the one, the few and the many, which distinguishes, of course, between monarchy, aristocracy and democracy. As has long been argued, the separation of powers in the United States makes for a mixed government that integrates aspects of all three of these forms. For instance, it takes no stretch of the imagination to construct an analogy between the executive branch and the monarchical principle, the judicial branch and the aristocratic principle, and the legislative branch and the democratic principle.

On such a view, the principles of the one, the few and the many thus stand in a reciprocal relation defined by the system of checks and balances between the President, the Supreme Court and the Congress. However, as Evan points out, the two-party system has so degraded the representative functions of government that the executive, the judiciary and the legislature effectively no longer stand for the people or the constitution of the United States, but rather have been put into the service of the party principle. In other words, the two-party system is slowly supplanting and degrading the separation of powers and the system of checks and balances that are supposed to be constitutive of our democratic republic.

This latter point is most clear in the highly dangerous and disturbingly common fabrication which asserts that the two-party system itself constitutes a system of "checks and balances." As I noted in my ten arguments against the two-party state, this claim confuses "an extra-constitutional political convention with the constitutional construction of the United States of America." It is thus a highly effective ideological weapon in the war being waged by the Democratic and Republican parties against the people and the constitution of the United States. The centralization and monopolization of political power by the Republican and Democratic parties is a grave threat to democratic-republican government. As Evan states: "Our representatives are elected by the parties, and that is who they represent. Who is representing us?" Who indeed?


DLW said...

We need a third, but do we need three major parties? Can't we have local third parties that specialize in contesting local elections and vote strategically together in less local elections as part of their civil issue advocacy?

And we could also have intermediaries between the two major parties and local third parties, by virtue of the fact that the two major parties need not be the same parties in all 50 states in the US...

LT Parties that regularly employ the politics of Gandhi to move the center that the two major parties center themselves around is the 3rd element that is needed most in our democracy...

d.eris said...

I would much rather see a patchwork of multi-party systems across the country rather than continue to maintain the fiction that the Democratic and Republican parties are actually capable of representing the multiplicity of interests that make up the US public.

As for the Congress, a first goal could be electing enough independents and third party reps so that no party would be able to construct an outright majority.

Almost daily, it becomes more and more difficult to believe that there are still people who consider themselves Republicans and Democrats, other than the people who are paid to do so.

Nancy Hanks said...

d.eris and friends -- my only other thought about this is -- do we need parties? I genuinely don't know. Partisanship has been historically corrupt. When will We The People prevail?

There is a live dialogue going on right now at The Hankster. Chime in!


DLW said...

If we had two very different major parties it would be a lot better...

My belief is that it is inevitable that we need both hierarchy and equality. This is why I push for the use of both winner-take-all and winner-doesn't-take-all elections.

And I trust more in the politics of Gandhi(as used by MLKjr) to move the center than any specific election rule to make things "right".... Thus, I can aim for simpler and less ambitious or more strategic election reforms.