Toward a Libertarian-Progressive Alliance: On the Necessity of a Populist Front against the Two-Party State

One of the more fascinating aspects of both conservative and progressive politics is the stunning naivety and self-deception of so many activists who continue to believe that the Republican and Democratic Parties are willing and able to represent the interests of anything other than the political ruling class and their corporate benefactors. Libertarians who believe the Republican Party stands for freedom labor under the same delusion as progressives who tell themselves that the Democratic Party stands for justice. Rednex Rants writes:
3rd parties usually only succeed to "split the vote" . . . a vote for a third party is, in effect, a vote for the Democratic party . . . Therefore, I have chosen to throw my support behind the Republican party in an effort to reform the party from within . . . rather than seeking an outside 3rd party to represent me, I chose to force the existing party to stop the compromising that led them astray, and represent my beliefs thru activism and outspoken appeal.
At In These Times, G. William Domhoff makes the progressive case for accomdationism with respect to the Democratic Party:
many progressive activists opt for third parties. The problem goes beyond the issue of leftist candidates becoming “spoilers.” Worse, it creates divisions among all those who are left of center and enables the election of conservatives, who are most insensitive to the needs of low-income people, people of color, women, environmentalists and religious minorities.

Further, progressives often fail to realize their power to influence the existing parties by challenging their platforms during the primaries . . . The two major parties are now government-controlled pathways into elected government office. Anyone can register to be a member, and anyone can run in the primaries . . . Progressives need to take advantage of the power this situation offers, rather than reject the two-party system.

Both of these positions suffer from the same fatal flaw: they are predicated on the assumption that the Democratic-Republican Party is not explicitly and overtly hostile to libertarian and progressive interests and values. Libertarians and progressives have more in common with one another than either of them does with the Republican or Democratic Party. At The League of Ordinary Gentlemen, Erik Kain certainly puts forth an ordinary argument when he writes:

I can see where Jane Hamsher’s tea-party/populist left united front thing could seem appealing as a movement against something (the no-good politicians in Congress and their corporate special-interest shenanigans).

But I can’t see how it could be a movement for anything. Progressives want more government, and tea-partiers want less. On a very fundamental level they can’t make those two goal work together. They will only ever be together in what they are against, and even then it’s more of a vague, boogey-man sort of villain.
Unquestionably, the conservative and progressive grassroots share a common antagonist, the Democratic-Republican two-party state and the duopoly system of government. Beyond that, however, whether some want more and others less government is arguably of less importance than the fact that both want more representative government. Given her stance toward the tea party movement from the very beginning, Jane Hamsher certainly has little credibility calling for a united populist front against the ruling parties. But that does not mean the idea itself is not credible. Back in October, Liberal Arts Dude did some brainstorming on the possibility of a populist left-right alliance:

There are a lot of things where Left and progressive activists and sympathizers share common ground with Tea Party activists. For example, if you implement a large-scale survey on “big picture”questions to both populations, I bet you will find a lot of overlap between the Left and Right. Examples of such questions might be:

  • Do ordinary people have a strong voice and power in American democracy? Should they?
  • Do the two major parties actually represent the interests of ordinary people? Should they?
  • Is the country is being led effectively by our elected leaders from either of the major parties?
  • Should a wider spectrum of perspectives, viewpoints and solutions be represented in public discourse and institutions than just Republican or Democrat?
  • Do the mainstream political parties care more for their own internal interests rather than the interests of the country as a whole?
  • Will you be willing to join a third political party or vote for a third party or independent candidate in an election?
  • Will you be willing to participate in political activities and actions that are designed to address the issues above?
In the present political context, one thing is certain: as long as conservatives and liberals, libertarians and progressives, moderates and centrists continue to vote for and otherwise support the Democratic-Republican two-party state and the duopoly system of government we will all be stuck with the reigning Democratic-Republican two-party state and the duopoly system of government. Happy Festivus!


Eric Dondero said...

Geez, Libertarians who believe that the Republican Party stands for freedom are "deluding themselves," huh? Let's see now.

Seat Belt Laws - Democrats support them, Republicans don't.

Smoking Bans - Democrats support them, Republicans don't.

Abolishing the IRS - Some Republicans support getting rid of the IRS, absolutely no Democrats support this.

Socialist Health Care - All Democrats support a Karl Marx-style highly regulated Health Care system. All Republicans oppose ObamaCare.

Affirmative Action - Dems in favor, Republicans opposed.

Property Rights - Dems in favor, Republicans opposed.

Political Correctness - Dems in favor, Republicans opposed.

Are there any freedoms at all that Democrats support? Once in a great while they're halfway decent on medical marijuana. But these days there's just as many Republicans who are moving towards that stance. So, that too is a wash.

Bottom line:

From a libertarian standpoint, Democrats are 98% Fascist, Republicans are 80% Pro-Freedom.

Why would any right-minded libertarian even consider such an absurdity like aligning with Progressives? They are our enemy. They need to be destroyed.

d.eris said...

Thanks for the comment Eric, I read Libertarian Republican every once in a while.

Let's begin where Democrats and Republicans agree, rather than focus on cosmetic differences: both are for illegal wars (in fact the US hasn't declared a war as per the constitution since World War II), the war in Iraq, war in Afghanistan, war on drugs, warrantless wiretapping, both are for the militarization of civilian police forces, the Patriot Act, NAFTA, both are strong supporters of the World Bank and IMF run global economic order, both are for massive economic subsidies in agriculture etc. Beyond that, there is the steady erosion of the first, fourth, fifth, and tenth amendments to the constitution, not to mention the erosion of constitutional principles as such under government by Republicans and Democrats. Those are just off the top of my head, and I haven't even gotten to their corporate sponsors yet, or to discriminatory laws which help reproduce the two-party state (ballot access etc.)

To support Republicans or Democrats is to support the continuance of the two-party state and the duopoly system of government. To support Republicans is to support the order which maintains the Republican-Democratic two-party state. To support the Democrats is to support the order which maintains the Democrat-Republican two-party state. The real "enemy" is the two-party state and the duopoly system of government.

Samuel Wilson said...

d., you wrote: "whether some want more and others less government is arguably of less importance than the fact that both want more representative government." That puts it perfectly, but let me make another suggestion. Is it possible that partisanship exaggerates the irreconcilability of Progressivism and Libertarianism. Is Eric Dondero's hysteria about Democratic "fascism" exacerbated by the fact of the two-party system? Would it be easier for Progressives and Libertarians to arrive at an essential compromise of their ideal positions if the American political system weren't a Bipolarchy? If the two sides are themselves locked into an all-or-nothing mentality then we may as well have one. But if each group realizes that total victory is impossible and gridlock no longer acceptable, then an alliance against the Bipolarchy under the banner of "more representative government" might be worth their while.