There is No Monopoly on Right: Contradiction and the Ideology of the Two-Party State

A commentary in the Mercury News by Byron Williams succinctly demonstrates the hubris, arrogance and intellectual bankruptcy of the ideology that sustains the two-party state.  Entitled, "To thrive, the nation needs two strong political parties," Williams's article takes a critical look at the weakness of the Republican party and its field of presidential candidates, and argues that this is not in the interests of the Democratic party either.  Excerpt:
With the current political process being what it is -- showing the qualities of a spectator sport -- it is also doubtful that many politically left of center will lose sleep over a weakened Republican Party. . .  My desires for a strong Republican Party assumes two things:  it is currently a weak party in need of self-reflection and purging; the Democratic Party is the de facto stronger of the two.

Being the "de facto" stronger political party, however, does not denote any moral superiority. If anything, it breeds an arrogance and hubris that lulls one into believing that "right" exist only within their domain, alleviating any desires for self-reflectionIn a two-party system, it requires that only one party be overtly infected by perceived weakness to send both tumbling into the abyss of mediocrity.  [Emphasis added.]
Of course, it is a cliche of bipartisan political sloganeering that no party has a monopoly on the truth, that no party is politically infallible, that no party is in possession of the fabled "silver bullet," and so on.  Williams explicitly subscribes to this hackneyed view.  His eventual conclusion, however, is quite revealing.  He writes:
It would be foolhardy to believe the answers to the problems we face are exclusive to one political party. For the nation to be successful, both political parties must aggressively compete in the marketplace of ideas.
So, according to Williams, it is foolhardy to believe that the answers to the problems we face are exclusive to one political party, but it is enlightened rationalism to believe that the answers to the problems we face are exclusive to two of them!  The two-party state breeds an arrogance and hubris among Democrats and Republicans which lulls them into believing that "right" exists only within their domain, alleviating any desires for critical self-reflection.  Indeed, Williams appears blissfully ignorant of the absurd contradiction inherent in his assertion that, though no party has a monopoly on right, the Democrats and Republicans have a monopoly on right.  The ideology of the two-party state is a nest of thoughtless contradictions.


Samuel Wilson said...

It's actually the persistent balance between the two parties that results in mediocrity, since under Bipolarchy conditions neither one has to be more than the proverbial lesser of two evils to maintain a permanent base of support. While the collapse of either of the major parties might have the hubristic results Williams anticipates, he doesn't reckon with the reaction that would (or should) inevitably come from new contenders, or from the likely collapse of the remaining major party into factions.

DLW said...

As a matter of fact, in most democracies, there tends to be either two major parties or two major coalitions of parties. And there are legit differences over which of the two is preferable.

I agree that our dysfunctional system is heading towards a serious collapse and that the author is being smug in his treatment of the matter.


d.eris said...

If Williams is right that "to thrive our nation needs two strong political parties," then imo we'll end up with at least a four party system, since we'll need substitutes for both the Democrats and Republicans.

TiradeFaction said...

It seems the healthiest democracies D.eris still tend to have two major parties or coalitions (which I think are better imo, but I can get into that later), but they tend to have real differences between the two (not always, Canada was a prime example) and do represent real major blocs of the electorate. But they also have a kettle of smaller parties that keep that major ones in check (amongst smaller ones outplacing the bigger ones at times, like the NDP outplacing the Liberals recently in Canada), amongst other non electorate action, strikes, social organizing, etc. It seems for a healthy democracy, you need a citizenry that realizes democracy is a multi pronged approach, requiring action on many levels. Alternative parties just seem to be one of the many (albeit important) strategies we should take to revive our democracy.

But yeah, this Byron dude seems like another wart on the asshole of humanity, good job serving him D.eris :)

Btw, my captcha was "Mantion", weird...

d.eris said...

"for a healthy democracy, you need a citizenry that realizes democracy is a multi pronged approach, requiring action on many levels."

Agreed. I would argue though that the two-party state aims to suppress action at all those other levels, unless it is geared toward strengthening the ruling clique.

There's an interesting discussion going on at PennLive about how the two-party system has resulted in a veritable crisis of democracy, as evidenced by anemic voter turnout in the state:

TiradeFaction said...

I would whole heartily agree with you D.eris, the two party "system" (delusion? lol) creates a lot of what I'd consider psychological problems in regards to independent organizing, that very much effect needed organizing outside the electoral realm. I can't tell you how many times good meaningful organizing got squashed out because of such issues, all of which by the way were non electoral focused.