The Fractal Fallacy and the Illogic of Two-Party Ideology

To break the Democratic-Republican corporatist duopoly on political power and representation in the United States, it is necessary to break with the habits of thought that ensure the reproduction of the Democratic-Republican corporatist duopoly on political power and representation in the United States: reactionary lesser-evilism, historical determinism, political impatience etc. The two-party state is, first and foremost, a state of mind. Duopoly ideology infects virtually every aspect of our political discourse, including the discourse of third party and independent politics. How many articles have you read in which the author lists the countless failures of the two-party system to adequately represent the interests of the people of the United States, and concludes with a call to form "a" third party to counter the hegemony of the Democratic-Republican political apparatus? Arguably, the failure of third party and independent politics derives, to a great extent, from the fact that the logic of such demands remains beholden to one of the defining characteristics of Democratic-Republican politics: the totalitarian impulse toward universal political uniformity detectable in the assumption that all elections at all levels of government in every corner of the country must conform to the principle of self-similarity. In other words, rather than allow for the multi-partisan articulation of regional and sectional interests (for instance, if liberal polities were defined by Green-Democratic contests and conservative polities by Libertarian-Republican ones), the demand here is that all elections must all be reflections of one another and of the whole. This is yet another aspect of what I have previously called the fractal fallacy and a source of contradiction in Democratic-Republican duopoly ideology.

Consider in this context a recent speech by the influential conservative strategist Richard Viguerie that explicitly "cautions against forming a third political party." From the press release at ConservativeHQ:
Richard A. Viguerie, Chairman of, delivered the keynote address at the January 29 meeting of the Leadership Tea Party, a conservative grassroots training event, at the Dallas-Fort Worth Airport Westin Hotel. Viguerie praised the Tea Party movement for providing new energy to conservative grassroots throughout the nation. . . . Viguerie told the Tea Party leaders that they should work to be a third force in politics but should not try to organize themselves into a third party. “A third party would be a disaster for the cause of limited government,” he warned. Tea Party members and other grassroots conservatives should focus exclusively on the 2010 Republican and Democratic primaries, he said.
Predictably, Viguerie's call for anti-incumbent lesser-evilism has been favorably received by partisans of the two-party state and the political status quo. Opntalk, for instance, writes in response:
if Conservatives DID throw their support behind a Third Party Candidate, like it or not, that would GUARANTEE a Left Victory . . . We do not WANT a Third party. We WANT Republicans to get back to their Conservative Roots . . . Congratulations Richard A. Viguerie. You are the Winner of the Display of Logic Award. Keep it up.
Ironically, however, the logic of Viguerie's argument is completely self-contradictory. He asserts that "a third party would be a disaster for the cause of limited government" but he explicitly states that the politics of the Democratic-Republican two-party system is also a disaster for the cause of limited government. From the press release above:
“Our country didn’t get into the mess we’re in because of the policies and skills of Barack Obama, Nancy Pelosi, or Harry Reid. The people who are responsible for handing power to the liberals in 2006 and 2008 are George W. Bush, Karl Rove, Tom DeLay, Dennis Hastert, Bill Frist, and other GOP leaders. The disastrous policies of the big government Republicans caused the voters to want to fire all Republicans,” he said.
To summarize Viguerie's position: the disaster represented by the reigning Democratic administration and congressional majority is the result of the disaster which was the previous Republican administration and congressional majority, but independent and third party opposition to the disastrous policies of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government would be "a disaster for the cause of limited government." Viguerie's proposed solution to the disaster that is the Democratic-Republican two-party state is support for the disaster that is the Democratic-Republican two-party state! It is worth reflecting on the fact that, among partisans of the two-party state and the political status quo, these sorts of ruminations are capable of being declared "Winner of the Display of Logic Award."

Ohio: Two Independents Sell Out, Become Part of the Problem Rather than the Solution

In Ohio, two previously independent candidates for the US House have determined to sign a pact with the political devil and become part of the problem rather than the solution. Surya Yalamanchili and Rich Iott have, pathetically, declared their political co-dependency with the Democratic and Republican Parties. reports on Yalamanchili:
A third candidate has entered the Democratic primary in Ohio’s 2nd Congressional District – Surya Yalamanchili, a 28-year-old East End resident who was on the Donald Trump reality show, “The Apprentice.” Yalamanchili announced his campaign in November, saying he would run as an independent. But he changed course Wednesday, announcing he would run as a Democrat.
On the other side of the duopoly divide, the Toledo Blade reports on the state of Iott's campaign:
Aiming to unify the conservative vote, Monclova Township businessman Rich Iott announced Thursday he'll drop his independent candidacy for the seat now held by U.S. Rep. Marcy Kaptur (D., Toledo) and run instead for the Republican nomination. That move will put him up against former Toledo Police Chief Jack Smith, who has declared himself as a candidate for the GOP nomination in the May 4 primary. Mr. Iott's switch comes after some in the conservative Tea Party movement complained that having both Mr. Iott and Mr. Smith on the Nov. 2 ballot would split the conservative vote.
And so, once again, we find political cowardice masquerading as political calculus.

Wake Up Call: Third Party Now

At Georgia's Barrow Journal, Chris Bridges calls on Americans to "wake up from their political slumber" and makes the case against reproducing the Democratic-Republican two-party state:
Change for change’s sake is not getting us anywhere. We can elect Republicans to replace Democrats and nothing is going to change. We can elect Democrats to replace Republicans and nothing is going to change. Until voters wake up from their political slumber and realize a third party is needed, we will continue to be in the same sinking boat we are going under in . . . Time to quit trying to bail out and get into another boat.

Whether it is the Libertarian Party (my choice), the Constitution Party, the Tea Party or even supporting an independent candidate, it’s time to start thinking outside the box. We can’t expect solutions when we continue to give the wrong answers.

In 2008, it was the Republican Party which fell victim to the tidal wave of voter revolt. Right now, it appears the tide is sweeping the other direction. But what good is that going to do? Candidates elected on single issues aren’t set up to be effective for the long haul.

Until we realize that they all need to be thrown out, along with this broken two-party system, we will continue to have the same problems, with no viable solution in sight. It’s time to wake up people. Shed the broken system of the two parties which, in reality, don’t have enough difference between them to amount to anything. If you truly value change, then look beyond the same slate of candidates. At the very least, look beyond candidates who simply used one office to seek a higher one. Our state and our country depend on it.

Three Can Play This Game: the Logical Fallacy of Faulty Generalization

Of the many logical fallacies that masquerade as analysis in the duopolized discourse of Democratic-Republican politics, generalizing from the particular is one of the most common. It would not be much of an exaggeration to state that in the corporate media, but most egregiously on cable news programming, fallacious generalizations from the particular constitute political commentary as such. In this, the talking heads are difficult to distinguish from the public relations flacks of the parties themselves. Consider the response to the results of a special state senate election in Minnesota held earlier this week. The seat opened up after career Republican politician Dick Day resigned to pursue his dream of becoming a lobbyist. In the three-way race that ensued, Republican Mike Parry garnered 43% of the vote, defeating Democrat Jason Engbrecht, who ran second with 37%, and Independence Party candidate Roy Srp, who was supported by 20% of the voting electorate. Politics in Minnesota relays the official Republican and Democratic Party responses to the results:

The state Republican party issued a statement lauding Parry’s victory:

Senator-Elect Mike Parry’s victory tonight is the latest indication that 2010 will be a great year for Minnesota Republicans as nearly two-thirds of the voters in Senate District 26 rejected the tax and spend policies of the Democrats in St. Paul . . . Following impressive Republican victories in deep blue Massachusetts, New Jersey and Virginia, Mike’s victory shows Republicans have all the momentum this year . . .

The DFL also issued a statement from party chair Brian Melendez:

In a district with so many Republican voters, Jason Engbrecht certainly had the deck stacked against him . . . it was an uphill climb from the start. But with hard work, good ideas and by talking directly to the voters in Senate District 26, Jason Engbrecht ran a campaign to be proud of and has a bright future in politics.
But three can play this game. At the Pioneer Press, Jason Hoppin has a different view of the race. He writes:
First, to get to the two-thirds number Republicans say rejected the tax and spend policies of Democrats, you'd have to add Parry's figure (43.1) to Independence Party candidate Roy Srp's (20.3). That gets you almost to 64 percent. The Democrats could just as easily crow that an overwhelming majority (56.8 percent) rejected the anti-tax stance of Republicans in St. Paul, by adding Srp's totals to Jason John Engbrecht's (36.5).
After breaking down the results of the race by county and comparing them with those of the 2006 election, Hoppin concludes:
It's hard to see a great deal of Republican momentum here. They won a seat they had, by a margin they could have expected. If anything, this special election bodes well for third-party candidates.

The Populist Impulse and the Dialectical Defense of Democratic-Repulican Corporatist Government

The reinvigoration of the populist impulse in American politics has the potential to upend long-standing assumptions that form the basis of the cliches that pass for conventional wisdom among professional political commentators and liquidate the ossified structures that maintain the ruling balance of power in favor of the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government. However, there is a grave danger that it will be appropriated by the partisans of the two-party state and put into the service of the political status quo. In two recent posts at the Think 3 Institute, Sam Wilson reflects on the reactions to what we might call the populist insurgency by commentators on both sides of the duopoly divide. In the first, he considers a piece by E.J. Dionne:
Liberal pundits would have people direct populist anger at the corporations who are momentarily expected to flood the airwaves with brainwashing propaganda. E. J. Dionne is a representative specimen. His latest column calls on Democrats to wage rhetorical war on corporate lobbyists and a "fake populism" that might be described as Teapublican. This "fake populism" focuses traditionally populist anti-"elite" hostility on the government instead of what Dionne deems its proper target, Wall Street.
In the second, Sam thinks through a column by David Brooks:
[Brooks notes that] that much of the supposed populism we see today doesn't come from the grass roots, but from the top down . . . As Brooks puts it: populists (or pseudo-populists) of both major parties "describe politics as a class struggle between the enlightened and the corrupt, the pure and the betrayers." Brooks is trying to warn both parties off the populist approach . . . When he describes the stupidity of 21st century populism, however, Brooks seems to be referring only to the anti-wealthy populism of liberals, progressives or Democrats, not the anti-"elitist" populism of Republicans, Tea Partiers and most conservatives. He does take a swipe at Sarah Palin's divisive populism, but his main beef against populism is over its fundamental hostility to concentrated wealth.
Though Sam considered these pieces separately, placing them side by side proves illuminating. Perhaps the simplest way to understand how Democratic-Republican politics channels the populist impulse to the benefit of the ruling order and the political status quo is to consider the ideological division of labor between the Democratic and Republican parties and the resulting dialectic. In the first moment, Democratic populists rail against the evils of big business while their Republican counterparts rail against the evils of big government. In the second moment, the partisan Republican construes Democratic populism as an implicit endorsement of big government while the partisan Democrat equates Republican populism with an implicit endorsement of big business. The outcome of this constellation is all too predictable. Because of their ideological investment in and political commitment to the ruling Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government, Democratic-Republican populism necessarily devolves into its opposite: the elitist defense of big government and big business. The end result of this dialectic is the reproduction of the ruling order, which is characterized, above all else, by corporatist government, crony capitalism and political cronyism.

Rhetorical opposition to the reigning Democratic-Republican political status quo is quickly becoming a condition for the reproduction of the reigning Democratic-Republican political status-quo.

Already Dead: the Democratic-Republican Partisan Paradigm in the Age of the Independent Voter

For those of us who recognize the utter bankruptcy of Democratic-Republican party government, who do not suffer the bipolar mentality characteristic of the political class, who no longer subscribe to the ideology of the two-party state, the Democrat and the Republican are the very definition of political anachronism. Partisans of the Democratic and Republican Parties are the cartoon characters who continue to live because no one has informed them that they are already dead. At North Jersey, Murray Sabrin writes:
For decades both Democrats and Republicans have failed miserably at the national and state levels in being good stewards of the public’s money. If independents conclude that neither party is competent to govern, will independents rally around a new political party in the near future?
Who are these people for whom it is still an open question whether the Democrats or Republicans are "competent to govern"? If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, then voting Democrat or Republican under the conditions of the two-party state in the expectation of good – or rather, more precisely, less evil – government is certifiable, whatever your registration may be. A letter to the editor at calls for a centrist third party alternative to the Democrats and Republicans. Via The Hankster:

The time is right for the emergence of a third political party in this country. . . . Members of both parties seem far more concerned about winning elections and holding on to power than in doing the country's business. A significant plurality of the American electorate does not identify with either of the major political parties. Those independents who have not given up totally all too often hold their nose and cynically vote for the candidate they believe will do the least damage to the country.

The country needs a new centrist party that rejects polarizing ideologies of the far right and the far left and that focuses solely on doing what is fair and right for all of the American people. Such a party composed of independent voters and a small percentage of the more moderate members of the two major parties would constitute a dominant political force highly capable of winning local and national elections.

All Jokes are Half Truths and the Joke is on You: if You Support Democrats or Republicans, You are the Problem

There is an old saying that all jokes are half truth. In this sense, the politics of the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government cannot be reasonably considered anything but a cruel joke. Among the many structural effects the ideology of the two-party state has on our political discourse, its distortion of our sense of truth must be considered one of the most pernicious. Whether Democratic or Republican, partisans of the ruling order prove time and again that they are incapable of articulating anything but half truths, half the truth and nothing but half truths. The reasons for this are not difficult to discern: the Republican and the Democrat each represent half the political problem facing the people of the United States. The extent to which you side with the one or the other, for whatever reason, is the extent to which you are responsible for the maintenance and reproduction of the greatest political problem facing the people of the United States: the tyranny of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and the duopoly system of government. Slowly but surely, more and more Americans are coming to realize their complicity in the ongoing conspiracy of dunces between the Democratic and Republican Parties. At Michigan's Holland Sentinel, Todd Leva writes:
We try the Republicans in power, they get nothing of substance done. We vote them out, and vote in Democrats. We find out they, too, have no answers, and again nothing changes. The never-ending cycle begins; Republican control to Democratic control, back to Republicans and back again to the Democrats. We just elected Democrats and gave them complete control of the federal government, yet to no one’s surprise the results are more of the same — nothing. Nothing but more money wasted, more broken promises and a deeper American made hole.

I will make a lot of friends when I say this: This mess is in large part, your fault. Yep, that’s right, your fault. Mine too, mind you. I too wear the cloak of blame, we want something much better, but never act upon that want. It’s our fault the nation is going nowhere.

When do we as the electorate demand another option?

Groundhog Day Politics: a Libertarian-Republican Two-Way Contest in Missouri

I have stated before that as the two-party system continues to deteriorate into a one-party state in polities across the country, we will likely witness a rise in viable third party or independent forces, counter-intuitively, where the major parties appear strongest. An upcoming special election for an open seat in Missouri's House of Representatives perfectly illustrates this point. At the KY3 Political Notebook, David Catanese wrote last September:
Although the special election isn't until February, Stone and Taney county voters will likely know who their next state House representative will be on Saturday. That's when the District 62 GOP legislative committee will meet and vote on the candidate who will carry the Republican banner next year. The public meeting is set for 1 p.m. Saturday at the Branson West City Hall, according to District 62 GOP chair Layne Morrill. A Democrat has never held a legislative seat in Stone County, Morrill noted. . . . there will be between 19 and 21 total committee votes. The winner would need to secure at least 11 for victory.
Thus, in this way, yet another election would be decided by the local politburo of the ruling party. As All Politics is Local reported in late December:
This could have been an interesting race after Democratic governor Jay Nixon named Republican legislator Dennis Wood to be Commissioner of Stone County, but it wasn’t to be when the Democrat dropped out.
Arguably, however, it is for this precise reason that the race has become interesting. It is now a two-way contest between Republican Nita Jane Ayres and Libertarian Patty Tweedle. Ironically, Patty Tweedle's candidacy demonstrates that not all elections need be contests between the Republican Tweedledum and the Democratic Tweedledee. The Libertarian Tweedle announced her candidacy in mid-December. A news item I recently relayed at Third Party and Independent Daily from the Branson Tri-Lake News quoted Tweedle, saying:
“I am running for the 62nd district House seat because the Libertarian party has a lot to offer,” Tweedle said. “If I can get the conversation going about liberty and less government involvement in people’s daily lives, then I’ve accomplished something. The two-party system has shown itself to be unsuccessful in promoting healthy, thriving societies all across America.”

If elected, Tweedle said she would work to stop the Real I.D. Act. Tweedle said the act would require all citizens to carry a national ID card, restricting people’s movements and cataloguing their activities.
At her website, Tweedle writes: "don't forget to vote on Groundhog Day 2010! Grounded in Liberty for All."

Getting Past First Past the Post: Instant Runoff vs. Range Voting and Approval Voting

At Attack of the Machine Elves, Maikeru's excellent series of posts on voting reform continues today with an article on alternatives to plurality voting. Maikeru has argued we need to "get past first past the post":
If there's one thing that many pro-reform advocates seem to agree on, it's that the voting regime we're using right now isn't working. Currently in America, the vast majority of elections are decided using the first-past-the-post voting method, in which each person is given one vote and the candidate that receives the most votes is declared the winner. . . . The shortcomings of the first-past-the-post system are numerous and glaring. In the case of plurality voting, an election can in extreme cases be won by a candidate who falls far short of a majority and of achieving the mandate that goes with it. . . . This often leads to tactical voting-- . . . rather than voting for the candidate that best reflects their political beliefs, most voters who don't prefer one of the two major-party candidates nonetheless hold their noses and vote for what they perceive as the lesser of two evils. . . . Another often-cited deficiency of the first-past-the-post voting system is that it tends to result in a large number of "wasted" votes, or votes that are cast for either losing candidates or for winning candidates beyond the threshold needed for victory. . . . Another criticism leveled against first-past-the-post voting is that it tends to encourage gerrymandering due to the relatively high number of "wasted" votes the system produces. . . . .
Today, Maikeru compares instant runoff voting with range voting and approval voting, which is essentially a simplified variant of range voting. Maikeru writes:
in addition to first-past-the-post voting there are two other major categories of voting methods that are used within single-winner systems: preferential voting methods, in which people are allowed to vote for multiple candidates and do so by ranking them in order of preference; and range voting methods, in which people are also allowed to vote for multiple candidates but are not required to rank them against one another. Over the last couple days, I've been discussing the various types of preferential voting methods and have offered the observation that instant-runoff voting seems clearly superior to first-past-the-post in terms of efficiency, providing for a runoff in cases where no candidate receives a majority of the vote while avoiding the expense and hassle of holding a separate second round of runoff voting, as well as in terms of providing for a more open and representative political system. . . . Today I conclude my look at the various voting systems with a focus on range and approval voting, which offer the most intriguing reform alternatives to IRV.
Read the whole thing. In the end, Maikeru comes down on the side of approval voting:
Ultimately, I think that any of the three voting systems discussed in depth here is better than first-past-the-post voting and would reflect a significant improvement over the status quo. But taking into consideration how easy it would be to implement these systems, to administer them once they are in place, and what kind of results they would produce, approval voting appears to be the best option available for reform advocates to get behind in attempting to promote change within the context of the single-winner system that predominates in this country.

On the Delusions of Progressive Democrats: Contradiction in Terms

At TruthDig, David Sirota reflects on the Democratic Party's corporatist agenda, correctly noting that corporatistism is the ruling ideology of the Democratic-Republican two-party state:
Under Democratic corporatism, “government” is not what it used to be—it is not tough financial rules or public programs like Medicare. Instead, ”government” now means giving public dollars to private banking, insurance and drug firms, and then hoping (but not mandating) that such largesse compels those companies to change.

This public-private collusion, it must be noted, is not limited to one of the two parties—in today’s money-dominated politics, they both champion it when in power. Additionally, corporatism is neither “left” nor “right”—Barack Obama’s bailouts are no more “liberal” than George W. Bush’s corporate welfare bills were “conservative.”
Given his recognition of this fact, Sirota's clear bias in favor of the Democratic Party is virtually inexplicable, and completely undermines the next step in his argument. He continues:
The difference [between Democrats and Republicans] is that unlike business-affiliated Republicans, Democrats in 2008 explicitly pledged to fight such state-sponsored larceny, and America sees their subsequent betrayal as an unseemly attempt to feign concern for voters while enriching the party’s corporate donors.
As I noted yesterday, rhetorical opposition to the Democratic-Republican corporatist bipoligarchy is itself becoming a condition for the reproduction of the Democratic-Republican corporatist bipoligarchy. Thus, Republicans also explicitly pledge to fight "state-sponsored larceny," most obviously in the form of their supposed opposition to excessive taxation. They even occasionally act in accordance with such pledges. Recall, for instance, the original vote in the House rejecting the initial bankster bailout on September 29th 2008, before the Congress completely capitulated to the 'market terrorists,' as we might call them – following the president's lead, that is:

The U.S. House has rejected legislation to bail out the country's financial industry by a vote of 228-205. Of the House's 235 Democratic members, 140 voted in favor of the bailout, 95 against. Of 199 Republicans, only 65 voted "yea."
Though Sirota appears blinded by his antiquated notions of what the Democratic Party stands for (he invokes, for instance, both FDR and LBJ), others are not so naive or nostalgic. Under the headline "How this Administration is Creating Third Party Voters" at Crooks and Liars, Susie Madrak has published a comment that was left at Matt Taibbi's blog:

people are not fooled by Obama throwing out platitudes like “I didn’t run for President to please fat-cat bankers” and then appointing people like Tim Geithner of Goldman Sachs to Treasury, keeping Ben Bernanke around, and having people who caused the economic pain for so many people like Larry Summers and Robert Rubin as his economic advisors. And are not fooled when he does nothing but mouth platitudes, or makes a scene of phoning a bank to tell them not to buy a plane, as the largest round of banking bonuses is handed out the year after they did the financial equivalent of blowing up the world. And are not fooled when he gives a speech to Wall Street politely requesting them not to be so greedy, and that they don’t need to wait for him to enact legislation to change their behavior. And are not fooled when all the popular elements of reform like a public insurance option are gutted out of the health care reform bill in order to “pass something” and call it a win, and then lie that you “never campaigned on a public option” . . .

I think Obama and his circle really believed that if he just talked the talk, and acted more empathetic in his photo-ops, no one would notice they were carrying on with the contempt Bush and Republicans had for the general public. But people did notice, and people who they counted on before to volunteer and vote for them because “they have no one else to vote for” are sick and tired of playing that game . . .

I came of voting age just a little before 2000, and could never really understand why people would “waste” a vote on someone like Nader. And although I was a supporter of Kucinich in 2004, once he was out, favoring Kerry made sense to me. But I’d never really had a real opportunity to see the modern Democratic Party running things in my adult lifetime.

Now I understand why people vote third-party. When the country is teetering on the brink and can’t get by on non-solutions anymore, and avoiding failed-state status actually depends on starting to fix the problems rather than just pretending it’s trying, and EVEN THEN the Democratic Party can only respond by offering trillions to Wall Street and legally requiring people who can’t afford health insurance to buy it from private, oligopolistic, profit-maximizing companies, all because of industry’s hold on Congress… then there’s nothing else you can do. In such a sick system, all you have left is your integrity as the country goes to hell, and I understand with crystal clarity why people vote third-party. [Emphasis not mine. -d.]

To be a Democrat or a Republican today is to be nothing but an enabler and a facilitator of the Democratic-Republican Party's corporatist agenda, whatever your intentions may be. To vote Democratic or Republican, to support Republicans and Democrats in any fashion whatsoever, is to provide the political cover for the ongoing criminal conspiracy that is the two-party state and duopoly system of government. If you stand in opposition to the corporatist agendas of the Democratic and Republican Parties, and you do so as a Democrat or Republican, you are the problem you seek to resolve. It is that simple. Luckily, the solution to this problem is ready at hand. Declare your independence from the two-party system and the ideology that reproduces it. At Op-Ed News, Bill Willers has written an open letter to progressive members of Congress, calling on them to withdraw from the Democratic Party:

There has never been a better time for the emergence of a strong third party as a permanent entity. Objective critics of the "system" have now understood that it is rotten beyond repair. Corporate "persons" rule in this two-party setup. "Reforms" are hopelessly inadequate. It should not be necessary to elaborate. What is necessary is revolutionary transformation rather than "change" as a mere campaign buzzword.

As it is, truly progressive members of Congress who identify themselves as democrats are eclipsed -- virtual nonentities really -- by the Democratic Leadership Council which long ago took its place beside the GOP in the corporate sphere . . .

If a contingent of true progressives - that might include such representatives as Kucinich, Grijalva, Lee, Conyers, Baldwin - were to hold a press conference and announce the formation of a Progressive Party with platform to match, the earth would move. There would be a rush of support from progressives, the Green Party, unions, democrats who understand the betrayal from the DLC stranglehold, minority groups, independents seeking change and even from some "moderate" Republicans. And there would surely be renewed interest from the millions who have long since turned off in disgust over the systemic rot that has by now become utterly transparent . . .

The argument that a Progressive Party would rob support from the Democratic Party, thus ensuring Republican control, overlooks what multi-party systems employ all the time: coalitions. Two or more parties can come together to create a platform that will topple a single dominant party. An American Progressive Party -- not a barely visible caucus but a bona fide party created within Congress -- would be an entity to which the Democratic Party would literally be forced to appeal in the interest of its own well being. It would have to move away from the corporate clutches of the DLC and work on a platform that would be acceptable to progressive values -- something not possible given the present system.

Our country was founded by revolutionary idealists who did not even want political parties as such. But two emerged, and the corporate world has taken control of them even as Americans have been conned into the belief that a two-party system is mandatory. A Progressive Party formed from within the now-suppressed progressive faction of this disgraceful Democratic Party would be a major factor in any strategy to lead the U.S. out of its current predicament.

How to Win the Battle and Lose the War: Elect Republicans and Democrats

Jake Towne, who is running for Congress as an independent libertarian in Pennsylvania's 15th district, reflects on Scott Brown's victory in Massachusetts and concludes: "Scott Brown is just another Republocrat." Towne writes:

Brown is a career politician who has been in the Massachusetts state congress for 11 years. His Issues page is full of run-of-the-mill generalizations (although briefer than mine, something I am working on). There is zero mention of the most important foreign policy topic – the simultaneous wars in Iraq, Afghanistan and Pakistan, while he absurdly devotes a section to support Israel's border walls. Even on health care, while taking a direct stance against the Democrat plan, he supports nationalizing health care and has voted for the Romney health care tax solution which he offhandedly ADMITS is ailing, as I pointed out in my health care plank last summer.

During his victory speech (starting at about 4:30):

We're past campaign mode. I think it's important for everyone to get some form of health care. So, to offer a basic plan for everybody, I think is important. It’s just a question of whether we are going to raise taxes, we’re going to cut a half a trillion from Medicare, and we’re going to affect Veteran’s care. I think we can do it better. And to just be the 41st Senator and bring it back to the drawing board. There are some very good things as you just pointed out in the national plan that is being proposed.

The message cannot be any clearer – while those who oppose a health care takeover may have won a battle, they will still lose the war with poor choices like Brown. As Massachusetts voters are 51% independent/third party, Brown promoted himself as the independent's candidate, and successfully marginalized Coakley as an incumbent and made it into a single-issue election. Tea parties across the nation donated funds to his campaign's coffers, ignoring a true independent candidate, Joe Kennedy, who really did stand for removing the government from health care.

On the Inevitable Failure of Strategic Infiltration, or, the Degeneration of Tea Party Activists into Petty Party Functionaries

The state of moral, intellectual and political abjection that has been achieved by the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government has become so deep that virtually every event of some political import leads to calls for third party and independent opposition to the two-party state. Indeed, the reproduction of the two-party state itself appears at this point to hinge on creating the appearance of opposition to the two-party state. For instance, Scott Brown's victory in the special election in Massachusetts was predicated upon his assertion, contrary to fact, that he is an independent and not, as is obvious from his record, a garden variety career politician in the duopolist mold. Perhaps at some point Brown will be forced to declare his political independence from the Republican Party in accordance with the old dictum, attributed to Kurt Vonnegut, that we are what we pretend to be. But, whatever the case may be in that regard, Brown's victory has led to a new consciousness of the power wielded by voters unaffiliated with either of the duopoly parties. CNN's Jack Cafferty, who certainly considers himself an independent, recently asked his viewers what it will take "to get a viable third party going in this country":
what we're seeing in places like Massachusetts, and also in those governors' races in New Jersey and Virginia, is swing voters swinging the other way. It's sort of like watching large groups of people rushing from one side of the Titanic to the other, causing the ship to lurch alternately from port to starboard - left to right. We just went through this a year ago when they all ran away from the Republicans and to the Democrats. Fact is, neither option is any good. Both parties stink. Our government is broken and no longer serves the needs of the people. Time for real change. Here’s my question to you: What will it take to get a viable third party going in this country?

Of course, this is precisely the wrong question to ask since there already are a number of viable third parties in the United States. The more pressing question is: what will it take to get US voters to end their abusive, co-dependent relationship with the duopoly parties? Consider how many tea party activists have proven incapable of liberating themselves from the ideology of the two-party state and now advocate an infiltrationist strategy that stands in direct contradiction with the movement's original opposition to Democratic-Republican politics as such. Ironically, if they continue down this road, they will likely suffer the same fate as the progressive anti-war movement, which was co-opted and then defeated by the Democratic Party. Support for Scott Brown's Senate campaign among tea party activists is a clear sign of the movement's degeneration. Many might be surprised to learn that the day after the election, Brown emphasized that he supports national health care, saying "there are some very good things in the national plan that's being proposed." But not all tea party groups fell for the ruses of the duopoly parties' propaganda machines. The Boston Tea Party, for instance, endorsed independent Libertarian Joe Kennedy's bid for US Senate in Massachusetts.

Establishmentarian Republicans no longer even hide the fact that they are explicitly pursuing a co-optation strategy with respect to the tea party movement. Neil Cavuto recently interviewed Dan Quayle and asked the former Vice President about "that whole tea party stuff" and whether it represents a "potent third party." Dan Quayle came right out and said it:

here's the challenge of my Party, is basically to co-opt the populist movement, the so-called Tea Party Folks whether they are Republicans or Democrats.

Naturally, tea party activists overtly and vehemently reject this notion even as they tacitly accept it. At Right Wing News, Warner Todd Huston writes of Quayle:

These guys just don't get it that the Tea Party goers have the political power here. They don't understand that their flawed Country Club Republican way of thinking has been rejected by the people. If they want to stay in power, the GOP better come to terms with the ideals and principles as espoused by the nation-wide phenomenon that is the Tea Party movement . . . You can't "co-opt" us, Mr. Quayle. You will be lucky if WE co-opt YOU!

But the co-optation of the tea party movement by the Republican Party is already in full swing, and is perhaps most clear in the adoption of the neighborhood precinct strategy. Bob Adelmann sums up the idea at the New American:

The strategy that has spread rapidly across the internet is “The Neighborhood Precinct Committeeman Strategy” which, according to the popular website “entails a tried-and-true, peaceful, Constitutional, ballot box solution to our present political predicament.” According to the strategy, all one has to do is to “go to a Republican Party meeting or walk a precinct on behalf of a candidate.” According to Darla who outlined this strategy in detail, presidential candidate Obama used this strategy to defeat Hillary Clinton.

The infiltration of the Republican Party by tea party activists is the co-optation of the tea party movement by the Republican Party. Such groups are as deluded as their progressive counterparts in the Democratic Party. Their emulation and adoption of the Obama strategy, which they deride as "far left radicalism," is evidence of their complete capitulation to that which they claim to oppose. Instead of organizing real, independent opposition to the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government, these activists have chosen to accommodate the ruling political establishment by becoming its willing functionaries and call it resistance!

American Pirate Party Gaining Organizational Momentum on Reddit

With the US Pirate Party in disarray due to a lack of leadership and the resignation of its administrator, there is serious movement afoot on Reddit aimed at developing a more effective group now calling itself the American Pirate Party. At FDL, Jim Moss points to the Reddit post that started the flurry of activist organization yesterday, which was entitled: "America, we need a third party that can galvanize our generation." Since then hundreds of posts have flooded the group's sub-reddit (as it's called), which now has just under 1400 readers. Individual posts cover everything from developing the group's platform, website, decision-making structure, communicative organization and outreach (for instance, its Facebook page) to name just a handful. Other independent Pirate Party groups (such as the USA Pirate Party) that had formed over the last year or so have also begun to contact the Reddit group. The USA Pirate Party writes:
Those arriving from Reddit must be asking themselves, is this a dead site? No, we are not with Davy Jones quite yet. We have been researching how we can actually get the USA Pirate Party on state ballots. We posted up the Connecticut version as an example of exactly what one must due to get our name on the ballot.

See, the status quo hates third parties, it is extremely hard to get on the ballot. It is almost like the Democrats and Republicans hate democracy. Which, of course, they do. No one wants to be a pirate, life makes them. We were going to do a proper launch in a month or two, doing our usual media antics that have helped out so many other causes, but it seems we are meant to sale much earlier than planned.
The American Pirate Party Facebook page features the group's "declaration and demands," which, at this point, appear to amalgamate progressive, libertarian and green principles. Poli-Tea fully supports dumping the duopolist ballast from the American ship of state.

Independents Outnumber Registered Democrats and Republicans in at Least Eleven States

In numerous media commentaries on the significance of the independent vote in the Massachusetts special election, analysts repeatedly stressed that the rolls of independent voters in the Bay State outnumber those of Democrats and Republicans combined. A handful of these commentators also drew attention to the fact that Massachusetts is one of eleven states in which there are more registered independents than Democrats or Republicans. For instance, John Avlon wrote at CNN:
Independents are the largest and fastest growing segment of the electorate. There are now 11 states like Massachusetts, where independents outnumber Democrats or Republicans outright.
Unsurprisingly, I was hard pressed to find a mainstream media analysis that actually informed readers which states those were. Fortunately, however, at Ballot Access News Richard Winger has a comprehensive table of states with partisan registration, showing how many voters there are in each state party and how many independents there are in each state. The most recent table, linked above, is from December 1st, 2008 and is based on registration totals as of October 2008. There are 30 states on the list. I found nine in which registered independents outnumbered both Democrats and Republicans individually or in which they outnumbered Democrats and Republicans taken together: Alaska, Connecticut, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, Rhode Island and Utah. Assuming that the media factoid is not false, this leaves two unaccounted for. Anyone happen to know which ones they are? Willing to take a guess?

The MA Special Election and the Crisis of Democracy: Nearly One Out of Every Two Eligible Voters Opts Not to Vote

Media accounts of the special election in Massachusetts have uniformly stressed the high incidence of voter turnout in the race. Voice of America reports:
City and state officials in the northeastern state of Massachusetts are reporting heavy voter turnout in a key special election to replace the late Senator Edward Kennedy.
Similarly, the Boston Globe reported that "frustration with status quo fuels emotions and turnout." They write:

The Brown voters outnumbered the many Democrats, who, facing the loss of a seat their party had held for decades, also flocked to the polls, transforming what many had expected would be a sleepy election day into an unusual scene, with lines at some precincts and the sort of numbers seen when voters turn out for regularly scheduled national elections.

“All the polling places are busy,’’ said Kathy Deree, an assistant town clerk in Weymouth. “They’re all asking for more ballots. This is the busiest election since the president’s.’’ More than 2.2 million voters, out of 4.1 million eligible, cast ballots in the three-way election between Brown, Coakley, and independent Joseph L. Kennedy. [Emphasis added.]

Despite the national attention focused on the race and the hyperbolic nature of the propaganda campaigns waged by Republicans and Democrats alike, only 53% of eligible voters bothered to cast a ballot. In other words, there were more eligible voters who did not vote than voted for either Brown or Coakley; and Brown's "miracle upset" was achieved with the explicit support of under 30% of eligible voters. And this is considered "heavy" or "high"! The special election in Massachusetts provides further evidence in favor of the proposition that the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government represents a crisis of democracy.

Corporatist Liberalism Victorious in Massachusetts

At Ballot Access News, Richard Winger provides the results from yesterday's special election in Massachusetts:

At the point at which 94% of the vote had been counted in the special U.S. Senate race in Massachusetts, the vote was: 1,148,400 for the Republican nominee; 1,029,600 for the Democratic nominee; 22,100 for the Libertarian who was running as an independent candidate. The percentages at that point were: Republican 52.2%; Democratic 46.8%; Libertarian independent 1.0%. Here is a newspaper interview with the Libertarian candidate, Joseph Kennedy, conducted after the results were known.

Yesterday, at the Humble Libertarian, W.E. Messamore compared liberal Republican Scott Brown's candidacy with that of independent Libertarian Joe Kennedy:
One candidate supported a major tax increase on the people of Massachusetts. The other opposes tax increases on principle. One candidate supported and helped pass Massachusetts' 2006 universal health care law. The other opposed it. One supports President Barack Obama's foreign policy. The other is unequivocally opposed to it. One is a lawyer. The other is a businessman with a background in information technology, computer science, and business management. One was born to a political family, and held signs for their father at a young age. The other was born to poor immigrants and adopted as an infant by a pastor and his wife. One supports the nanny state and agrees with Barack Obama's opposition to gay marriage, but support for civil unions. The other believes government should stay out of the issue of marriage altogether. One supports the Federal government's role in taxing income, regulating education, and allowing the Federal Reserve Bank to continue printing money out of thin air. The other adamantly opposes all three.

The first candidate in the comparisons above is not Democrat Martha Coakley . . . The first candidate is actually Republican Scott Brown, who as a state senator voted for a major tax package and Romney's universal healthcare plan, who supports Obama's reckless troop surge in Afghanistan, and who is a career lawyer and politician. The second candidate is the Libertarian Party candidate in the Massachusetts' Special Senate Election, Joe Kennedy.

MA Special Election: Media Analysts Predict Majority Will Prove Decisive

The trajectory of the special election for the open US Senate seat in Massachusetts has defied the expectations of both professional politicians and the mainstream media's armies of analysts. Fixated on the imaginary political and ideological color coordination provided by the binary "Red State/Blue State" divide, such strategists and pundits marvel that their totemistic model of political antagonism has failed to predict the particular contours of the race. Ironically, however, this election has demonstrated that what passes for insight, according to the political media's conventional wisdom, is little more than trite tautology. I am referring, of course, to the claim that it is independent voters who cast the decisive vote in American elections. It would be a difficult, if not impossible, task to track down an electoral contest in recent memory where this proposition was not put forward by some analyst, strategist or other.

Though it is often asserted that Massachusetts is a Democratic Party stronghold, the majority of its registered voters are not affiliated with either of the major parties, which is to say, the majority of registered voters in Massachusetts are independent. Were it not for the professional obscurantistism practiced by the political press and the spokesmouths of the duopoly parties, it might not be considered deep insight to assert that the majority of voters will decide a given election. Let's look at a few examples. In the Christian Science Monitor, Tracey Samuelson writes:
Massachusetts has long been regarded as a liberal stronghold, but the special election to replace Sen. Edward Kennedy in the US Senate is showing Massachusetts has a more conservative streak as well. State Sen. Scott Brown (R) is proving to be a major challenge for Attorney General Martha Coakley (D), who was heavily favored early in the race; a poll released late Thursday had Mr. Brown leading Ms. Coakley by 4 percentage points. Brown’s success may have to do with his ability to appeal to independent voters in the Bay State – 51 percent of voters here are unenrolled. [Emphasis added.]

It does indeed stand to reason that a candidate's success would hinge on support from a majority of voters. But don't take a mere reporter's word for it. Boston's NPR affiliate WBUR queried Democratic and Republican strategists about the importance of the majority vote:

With the special general election for the U.S. Senate set for Tuesday, Democratic political analyst Dan Payne and Republican political analyst Todd Domke, in a Monday interview with WBUR, both stressed the importance of independent voters.

USA Today, however, proves to be more circumspect, couching the proposition in the subjunctive. Under the headline "Independents May Settle Mass. Race Today," we read:

Independent voters . . . could be a deciding factor at the polls today, political analysts say. [Emphasis added.]

The decisive independent majority in Massachusetts is also causing polling organizations to account for inconsistencies in their political and ideological metrics. Gallup Polls writes that, "Massachusetts leans Democratic but nearly half are independent." Gallup writes:

As Massachusetts prepares for its high-visibility special Senate election on Jan. 19, a new Gallup analysis shows that the state has significantly more residents identifying as political independents (49%) than as Democrats (35%). The percent identifying themselves as Democratic matches the national average, while the percent independent is well above the national norm. Many Massachusetts independents, however, lean toward the Democratic Party.

As regular readers might recall, I have debunked the myth of the "myth of the independent voter," and emphasized the senselessness of the "leaners" category on more than one occasion. Those who assert that the independent voter is a myth, arguing that the ranks of independents appear inflated because most independents are actually "leaners" or "weak partisans," clearly have some explaining to do. Gallup goes on the defensive:

the majority of Massachusetts' independents say they lean toward the Democratic Party when they are asked a follow up question about their political leanings. This yields the type of Democratic skew in party identification that may be more representative of typical perceptions of the political make-up of the state.

Nonetheless, whatever the outcome of today's race in the Bay State, it is clear that Massachusetts voters have not yet overcome their co-dependent relationship with the Democratic and Republican Parties, as the only independent candidate in the race, Joe Kennedy, appears unlikely to receive even 10% of the vote. However, not voting for Ted Kennedy is a step in the right direction – though we shouldn't be surprised if the late Senator still receives some portion of the write-in vote. The real test of the independent vote in Massachusetts will come this November, in the gubernatorial election, which is shaping up to be a competitive three-way contest between some Democrat, a Republican and Independent candidate Tim Cahill.

People over Parties: A Declaraction of Independence

At Proper Role of Government, Michelle Copher makes an independent conservative case against political parties as such, and suggests consideration of the GOOH (Get Out of Our House!) process proposal:
At first I supported the Republican Party, though never becoming an official member. They had a conservative platform that most closely matched my beliefs. Then it became evident to me that the GOP was corrupt, systemically, and irretrievably corrupt. So I looked for a third party I could support . . .

Eventually I've come to understand why George Washington warned us against all political parties. The problem isn't that it's the wrong political party, the problem is that it is a political party . . . They, by their very nature are a corrupting influence on the individuals who run under their banners. They are manipulative, power hungry organizations. Parties are not about the people, they are about their own power. Even the underdog parties are about their own power and the desire to force all of America to their way of thinking . . .

There are several organizations making efforts to change the way we select our candidates for office. They are trying to do away with parties altogether. I hope that by the time my twelve-year-old is ready to cast his first ballot, he will be voting for an individual and not a party. My favorite process proposal is GOOOH, or Get Out Of Our House.

Martin Luther King Jr.: You Can't Leave Home In the Morning Without Being Dependent on Most of the World

This past October, at the History News Network, Simon Balto considered the many ways in which Martin Luther King Jr. is misremembered today, writing:
Within the confines of the two-party dominance of the 1950s and 60s, King rarely made any sort of appeals or grounded any struggles too deeply in a political ideology creditable to either the Republican or Democratic parties. He chose, rather, to push both parties from the left with appeals to morality, equality, human rights, and social justice—and was rewarded with palpable feelings of hatred from leaders of both parties. Indeed, from Eisenhower to Kennedy to Johnson, King attempted to force presidential hands on matters of social equality and justice, and frustrated the ambivalent attitudes toward all of them in his efforts. Though our triumphalist and revisionist history of the civil rights era today includes a mirage depicting government actors eventually realizing the self-evident injustice of the American racial caste system, it would be more accurate to say that King, his fellow civil rights and Black Power leaders, and those at the grassroots realized the achievements that they did—with precious few exceptions— in spite of, rather than because of, those government actors . . .

The iconography of American triumph suspends King in a very particular time, place, and condition: with arms outstretched before the Lincoln Memorial in 1963, leading a people down the road toward a dream rooted in American ethics and promised by American politics. Yet, omitted in this vision we perpetuate of King are his radical ideologies and condemnations of the moral failure of American government . . .

King the radical labor advocate (he was, lest we forget, assassinated while in Memphis helping the city’s sanitation workers in their demands for better pay and working conditions); King the radical anti-war critic; King the radical anti-capitalist…King the radical anything is simply not a notion that fits into how we wish to commemorate the civil rights era, for the very reason that it implies that there was—and is—more work to be done than desegregating institutions and ensuring voting rights. The radical reconstruction of American society that King saw necessary has yet to commence, and within the schema of the modern American two-party system, his ideologies are barely represented within the political discourse.
From King's speech "Beyond Vietnam," April 4, 1967:
When machines and computers, profit motives and property rights, are considered more important than people, the giant triplets of racism, extreme materialism, and militarism are incapable of being conquered . . . A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death . . . Our only hope today lies in our ability to recapture the revolutionary spirit and go out into a sometimes hostile world declaring eternal hostility to poverty, racism, and militarism. With this powerful commitment we shall boldly challenge the status quo and unjust mores, and thereby speed the day when "every valley shall be exalted, and every mountain and hill shall be made low, and the crooked shall be made straight, and the rough places plain."
From King's sermon "Why Jesus Called a Man a Fool", August 27, 1967, also known as "A Knock at Midnight":

And so this man was a fool because he allowed the means by which he lived to outdistance the ends for which he lived. He was a fool because he maximized the minimum and minimized the maximum. This man was a fool because he allowed his technology to outdistance his theology. This man was a fool because he allowed his mentality to outrun his morality. Somehow he became so involved in the means by which he lived that he couldn’t deal with the way to eternal matters. He didn’t make contributions to civil rights. He looked at suffering humanity and wasn’t concerned about it . . .

Maybe you haven’t ever thought about it, but you can’t leave home in the morning without being dependent on most of the world. You get up in the morning, and you go to the bathroom and you reach over for a sponge, and that’s even given to you by a Pacific Islander. You reach over for a towel, and that’s given to you by a turk. You reach down to pick up your soap, and that’s given to you by a Frenchman. Then after dressing, you rush to the kitchen and you decide this morning that you want to drink a little coffee; that’s poured in your cup by a South American. Or maybe this morning you prefer tea; that’s poured in your cup by a Chinese. Or maybe you want cocoa this morning; that’s poured in your cup by a West African. Then you reach over to get your toast, and that’s given to you at the hands of an English-speaking farmer, not to mention the baker. Before you finish eating breakfast in the morning you are dependent on more than half of the world. And oh my friends, I don’t want you to forget it. No matter where you are today, somebody helped you to get there.

Building the Opposition: There is No Second Party in a One-Party State

I have remarked before that Democrats and Republicans never sound so much the same as when they drone on about how different they are. Similarly, the difference between the Democrat and the Republican vanishes when they seek to dissuade others from engaging in third party and independent opposition to the reigning political status quo and duopoly system of government. Consider the way in which Democratic and Republican ideologues exploit the constitution in their efforts to justify the ongoing tyranny of the two-party state. Democratic Party ideologue Booman of the Booman Tribune:
We have a two-party system that is driven by the first past the post winner-take-all federal elections that were created by our Constitution . . . The Democratic Party is the only organization standing in this country that can be trusted to serve the interests of business or labor or the big guy or the little guy.
On the other side of the duopoly divide, we have, for instance, Republican Party ideologue Donald Douglas at American Power:
my concern is that the tea party movement will essentially become a populist third party movement . . . given the historical record of third parties in our structural two-party system . . . Our movement needs to work within the structural constraints of the single-member, winner-take-all system.
The argument that the Democratic-Republican two-party state is the inevitable result of plurality voting would be convincing were it not for the fact that the the so-called two-party system has degenerated into a one-party state at local, state and federal level polities across the United States. Ironically, then, by their own logic, we should expect to see a rise in third party and independent political forces at the local, state and federal levels clear across the country. I've made this point before in arguing for the necessity of intellectual independence from duopoly ideology, but there are some new developments on this front among Massachusetts Greens. The liberal Commonwealth is obviously considered a Democratic stronghold. The state legislature is dominated by Democrats, who outnumber Republicans 144 to 15 in the House and 35 to 5 in the Senate. Yet, this breakdown is highly unrepresentative of Massachusetts voters, over 50% of whom are unaffiliated with either of the major parties. As in so many other states across the nation, the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government has here degenerated into a one-party state that is clearly incapable of adequately representing its voting population. At the Green Mass Group, Green Dem makes that case that the Green Party is the rightful opposition party in the Bay State. Via Ross Levin at IPR:
If the Green Party became a dominant party here in Massachusetts it would not only force the Democratic Party more to the left but maybe even the Republicans . . . We have so many races in Massachusetts where the incumbent or Democratic candidate running unopposed. We have 200 seats in the House and Senate combined and 21 of them are held by Republicans.

In 2008 there were 9 contested elections for State Senate out of 40 and only one of them had a Green-Rainbow candidate. In 2008 there were 40 contested elections for State House out of 160 and we had ZERO Green-Rainbow candidates . . .

It takes 150 signatures to get on the ballot for State Representative and 300 for State Senator. We collect 20,000+ every time a member of the Green Party runs for Governor and LT. Governor I think we can collect at least that many for the down ballot races. If we did that for just the House races we would get at least 133 candidates on the ballot. Or we could get 40 Senate candidates and 50+ House races.

The party needs to rethink its strategy because we will never win the Governorship or a Federal Senate/House seat without elected officials in lower positions. I'm not saying don't run but I am saying do two things at once get signatures for both at the same time or just focus on the lower races. One thing is clear the Green Party can easily become the opposition party here in Massachusetts.
It may seem counter-intuitive, but third party and independent activists may stand the best chance of success in defeating the major parties where they appear strongest!

Pro and Con: California's Proposed "Top Two" Open Primary

The debate on the "top two" primaries act, which is a ballot proposition in California to be voted on in June, continues apace. The local Union newspaper in Nevada county, Jason Olson of Independent Voice writes in support of the measure:
The Top Two Open Primary would effectively make our statewide elections (including Congressional ones) non-partisan in the same way our local elections for mayor and city council are. Rather than running in party primaries heavily controlled by insiders, candidates for office would all run on the same ballot against each other regardless of party. All voters — including independents — could simply vote for the best candidate. The top two vote getters would then go on to a “runoff” style election.

Why is this so important? Because it empowers independent voters — that group of voters that cares more about what is best for the state and country than what is best for the political parties — to exercise serious political clout. Approximately 20 percent of California voters are registered “Decline to State,” California's version of independents with no party affiliation. When empowered to do so, independent voters have a track record of shaking up elections . . .

Some in the third parties have decided to oppose the open primary because it does not give their candidates a “guaranteed spot” in the second round of the election. They also complain it would require them to register more voters in order to maintain their presidential ballot status.

What these third parties ignore is the very concept of the open primary: That the people — not any party — have the right to control our elections process. Today less than 1.5 percent of voters are registered in the Green, Peace and Freedom, and Libertarian Parties combined (down significantly from 10 years ago). Over the last decade, California independents have made it clear that we want more than just a protest vote; we want to be able to exercise our clout in the political mainstream.
One prominent opponent of "top two" is Richard Winger of Ballot Access News. In a rebuttal of a Newsweek article in support of the measure by Jonathan Alter (who calls it "The Jackass Reduction Plan"), Winger responded:
1. “Top-two” helps incumbents and does not “reduce jackasses.” When it was used for the first time in Washington state in 2008, out of 123 state legislative races, only one incumbent was defeated in the primary, and his reputation at the time of the primary was such that he probably would have been defeated under any election system.

2. Corrupt special interests were the top financial backers when the “top-two” initiative (Prop. 62) qualified for the California ballot in 2004. The leading financial backer was Countrywide Home Loans, which at the time was the nation’s biggest home mortgage lender, but which no longer exists, having been bought out by Bank of America in 2008 . . .

3. “Top-two” wipes minor party and independent candidates out of the general election campaign season. This was shown when Washington state used the system for the first time in 2008. For the first time since Washington became a state, no minor party or independent candidates appeared on the November ballot in any congressional election or any statewide state office election.

4. The system may well be unconstitutional. On August 20, 2009, a U.S. District Court in Washington state said the system may be unconstitutional and set the stage for new briefings and a probable trial.

5. “Top-two” greatly increases the cost of campaigning, because it forces candidates to run, in effect, two campaigns in front of the entire electorate (assuming they qualify for the second round).

6. “Top-two” is not favored by people who have studied election systems. Political Science Professor Paul Gronke, of Reed College, posed a question to all 600 political scientists on the Political Methodology listserve, asking how many support “top-two”. Only one political scientist replied in the affirmative.

On Reaction: the Lesser-Evilist Hides His Political Cowardice Behind a Veil of Political Calculus

Over the last few days, I've had occasion to refute a number of claims by conservative and libertarian leaning infiltrationists who support practical accommodation with the Republican Party rather than principled opposition to the Democratic-Republican two-party state and the duopoly system of government. At FireDogLake, Jason Rosenbaum provides an opportunity to debunk the supposedly progressive case for accommodating the Democratic wing of the global warfare and corporate welfare state. Rosenbaum writes: "To the pissed off progressives: Don't be Naderites." Unfortunately, Rosenbaum proves incapable of mounting an original argument against third party activism and in favor of supporting the ruling two-party political establishment. Like so many of the lesser-evilists among us, he hides his political cowardice behind a veil of political calculus:
in a plurality voting system, if you don’t vote or if you vote for a third party, you are actually helping the candidate you least want to see in office, because in a plurality voting system it’s a zero sum game.
This highly disingenuous argument is beloved by the supporters of the Democratic-Republican two-party state. Their affective attachment to it, however, does not make it true. In reality: in a plurality voting system, if you vote for either of the major party candidates, you are voting to reproduce the ruling order and the two-party political status-quo; you are throwing your vote away, deluded by the illusion of a free choice. Rosenberg is thus only capable of offering a false choice in solution:

First, you can agitate to change the voting system. It’s a long road towards a voting system that better represents the will of the American people instead of shoehorning them into voting for the lesser of two evils, but it’s a worthy fight and you’d find a lot of support.

Second, you can work to change the party from the inside. That means primary challenges, organizing powerful groups within the parties, taking over party infrastructure – you know, all that Crashing the Gate stuff.

Rosenberg then contrasts third party political strategy with the primary challenge strategy, writing:

The people who voted for Nader in 2000 sent the country backwards and didn’t help reform the Democratic party. By contrast, Howard Dean and his followers mounted a powerful primary challenge and then proceeded to take over large parts of party infrastructure and create real change. It’s a lesson on how to do things, and how not to do them.

Of course, in the 2000 presidential election, as in every election, it was those who voted for the establishmentarian candidates, the anointed representatives of the global warfare and corporate welfare state, George W. Bush and Al Gore, who "sent the country backwards" with a conscious strategy of reactionary lesser-evilism. Beyond that, Howard Dean is an odd choice as an example supposedly demonstrating the superiority of the primary challenge strategy over independent opposition to the ruling two-party political order. Dean, of course, lost the Democratic primary to John Kerry who lost the general election to George W. Bush. However, Dean was certainly instrumental in helping to build the reigning Democratic congressional majority. Yet, as that Democratic majority has done nothing to scale back the global warfare and corporate welfare state, but rather strengthened it, and Dean himself has come out against the health insurance industry bailout being pushed by that majority, one wonders what "real change" Rosenbaum is talking about.

In effect, Rosenbaum's arguments against third party and independent activism, against opposition to the ruling political balance of power, are indistinguishable from those put forward by any given propagandist of the two-party state and the duopoly system of government on a daily basis. Ironically, with the appropriate substitutions, one can find the exact same claims put forward by the likes of Rush Limbaugh and his assorted Republican ditto-heads. But this is not surprising. The argument in favor of the lesser evil and the primary challenge is neither progressive nor conservative. It is purely reactionary. The lesser evilist hides his political cowardice behind a veil of political calculus.

Tea Party Split: Co-dependent Infiltrationists vs. Independent Activists

A New York Times report on recent activities of those involved in the tea party movement is, unsurprisingly, careful to focus on those who advocate a strictly infiltrationist policy of "taking over" the Republican Party, while avoiding any mention of those taking independent action against the ruling order of the Democratic-Republican two-party state. We read:
The Tea Party movement ignited a year ago, fueled by anti-establishment anger. Now, Tea Party activists are trying to take over the establishment, ground up. Across the country, they are signing up to be Republican precinct leaders, a position so low-level that it often remains vacant, but which comes with the ability to vote for the party executives who endorse candidates, approve platforms and decide where the party spends money.

A new group called the National Precinct Alliance says it has a coordinator in nearly every state to recruit Tea Party activists to fill the positions and has already swelled the number of like-minded members in Republican Party committees in Arizona and Nevada. Its mantra is this: take the precinct, take the state, take the party — and force it to nominate conservatives rather than people they see as liberals in Republican clothing.
In effect, this faction of the tea party movement has allowed itself to be hijacked by partisan Republican operatives. Their situation is not dissimilar from the way in which the anti-war movement was co-opted (and then defeated) by Democrats over the course of the last decade. However, not all of these tea party activists are as gullible as one might think, given that they appear to have been duped by apologists of the reigning Democratic-Republican two-party state. Many remain skeptical. Minuteman Project co-founder Chris Simcox, who plans to challenge John McCain in this year's Republican primary in Arizona, is quoted at Sonoran Alliance:
All in all it seems the McCain party establishment is nervous. They are being challenged from within by independent minded folks who actually live the conservative platform but have no voice even when they are welcomed to the table. Some folks, part of the “establishment” attempted a last minute New Year’s Eve coup to control the message including the state party money which by decree meant that all efforts and money would go to protect incumbents only.

Common Sense prevailed with a unanimous vote to hold off until this Saturday’s Arizona GOP State Party elections. Many independents, conservatives who left the Republican Party waiting for a viable change in the party structure are watching carefully how this power play will affect the so-called grassroots party vote. Will so-called grassroots leadership stick with principle or play it safe with the status quo?
The “party” convinced thousands of independents to come back and re-register with the party; the “party” encouraged folks to get involved as precinct committeemen and state committeemen; the party welcomed (begged) the Constitutional conservative independents to return to the Republican “party” and have now given them a seat at the table. The question is will they have a voice and how will their votes affect state party leadership? Or, will it be business as usual?
Elsewhere, in Washington state, for instance, conservative tea party activists are fiercely guarding their independence from the Democratic-Republican ruling establishment, and continue to call for organized opposition to the political organs of the two-party state. Constitution Party activists participated in a protest at the state capitol in Olympia yesterday. As reported by the News Tribune:
About 300 people gathered on the Capitol steps Thursday for a "Winter Sovereignty Fest," and participants called for legislators to pass laws reasserting Washington's right to sovereignty . . .
Karen Murray of Quincy, spokeswoman for the Constitution Party of Washington, said she traveled to Olympia for the rally because she believes the federal government has usurped powers not granted in the Constitution. "Slowly over the years people have become aware of how much has been taken away from them," Murray said. "I'd like people to read the Constitution. They can see there exactly what the federal government is able to do. We gave them those powers and nothing else." . . . Murray said the Constitution Party plans to run candidates in 2010 elections in hopes of breaking two-party rule.
UPDATE: At Conservative Firestorm, Rich V. argues that the tea party movement is a "blueprint for a third party." He writes:
all the political parties that have risen throughout our history have started locally. Thus, to make a new, "3rd" party viable, this proposed party must begin working at the local level before all else. That means developing a viable party platform, finding people who are like minded and then banding together and working on local issues . . . The 2nd step in this process must be recruiting and then electing members of this nascent party to state offices, such as representatives/delegates and state senators . . . The 3rd step must be getting party members elected to the US House of Representative and Senate. This is nearly as great a step as the 2nd, but if getting members elected to state houses occurs, then capturing governorships isn't out of the question at this step either.
Rich dismisses popular caricatures of the tea party movement and argues that it has the potential to coalesce into a viable moderate third party:
the Tea Party movement has started organizing locally, though they are also sponsoring a national convention in the near future. That's why I believe this movement has the ability to evolve into a viable alternative to the existing major parties. Despite how they are painted in the major media, most people who profess to the solidifying ideology of this nascent party, they aren't far right wing 'nuts'. Most are much more moderate in their viewpoint. It's only fiscally that they are conservative.

Therefore, this movement has the distinct possibility to become the long wished for "moderate" party. This will be possible as the moderates of BOTH existing major parties are being driven from their respective folds as they move to the left and right . . . Is this possible? Yes it is.
Read the whole thing.

Lesser-Evilism: the Duopolist Dead-Ender's Pact with the Political Devil

Though lesser-evilists on both sides of the duopoly divide cloak their political pact with the devil in the mantle of pragmatism, their support for practical accommodation with the Democratic or Republican Party, as the case may be, is nothing other than a defense of the ruling political class and a renewed call for the reproduction of the reigning duopoly system of government. At the Booman Tribune, Booman comes right out and admits it:
Right now, the left is looking at the Democratic Party and asking why they are too much resembling the party of corporate management. But I think this is an anachronistic way of judging where we stand politically as a nation. We have a two-party system that is driven by the first past the post winner-take-all federal elections that were created by our Constitution. But one-party proved unworthy of support during the Bush years . . . [and so] the Democratic Party ceased being the party for the left and became the party for the entire Establishment. Outwardly, Obama campaigned as a traditional Democrat, appealing to traditional Democratic constituencies. But, in reality, he took on the job as savior for the entire system.
Booman has, perhaps unwittingly, thereby supplied one of the most succinct arguments in favor of opposition to the Obama administration and the Democratic congressional majority. Of course, the contention that today's Democratic or Republican Party is, or could be, anything other than a party for the establishment is maintained only by the most cynical propagandists of the two-party state and the most naive rank and file supporters of the major parties.

On the other side of the duopoly divide, JB Williams argues against independent opposition to the two-party state and for infiltration of the Republican Party. In addition to the absurd assertion that the end result of any successful third party and independent movement would be the transformation of the United States into a "parliament system," Williams provides a number of faulty arguments in favor of accommodation with the Republican Party. In what we might call the fractal fallacy, he treats findings from a national poll as if they reflected the breakdown of public sentiment in all state and local level polities:
23% “Tea Party” voters without a “Tea Party” to run a single candidate under cannot defeat 36% Democrat voters even in the wonderful Land of Oz.
The statement is, moreover, doubly false since this year voters in districts across the country will have the opportunity to choose a "Tea Party" candidate for office, whether that candidate is an independent or from the Constitution Party, the Libertarian Party, the Whig Party or even –why not?– the Green Party or Socialist Party. Applying yet another common duopolist argumentative fallacy, Williams equates the results of the 2008 presidential contest with outright support for the two-party state:
98.47% of the voters cast a vote for the two primary party tickets despite the fact that we had undeniably, the two worst tickets to choose from in U.S. history . . . 98.47% of voters are highly prone to support one of the two primary party tickets in every national election.
98.47% support for Obama and McCain sounds impressive until one recalls that only 56.8% of registered voters participated in the election. In other words, even with his "landslide" victory and comparatively "high" voter turnout, Obama was only able to garner the explicit support of roughly 30% of eligible voters. State and local elections are another matter altogether. In an opinion piece on the Florida Republican Party's attempts to court tea party activists, Bill Cotterelli observes:
As [GOP committeeman] Feaman accurately pointed out, these people want an end to big government, which is what Republicans advocate. But, he failed to add, it's not what the party does — certainly not to the extent the Tea Party ralliers desire.
This situation is effectively no different from that of the Democratic Party with respect to progressives. Just as Republicans advocate conservatism, but never deliver it, so too do Democrats advocate progressivism, but work against it. The reason for this is simple: the Democratic and Republican Parties are nothing more than the political organs of narrow corporatist interests. Rank and file lesser-evilists, the dead-enders of the duopolist order, are nothing more than their enablers.