On the Obsolescence of the Two Party State and the Production of Political Independents

At Dissident Voice, David Degraw makes the case for wide-ranging electoral and political reform and emphasizes the necessity of organized opposition to the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government:
A recent Rasmussen poll found that only 21% of Americans think that the government has the consent of the governed. An Opinion Research Corp. survey revealed that 86% believe “the system of government is broken.” An overwhelming majority of the population has come to the realization that our government doesn’t effectively represent us anymore. It is just a matter of time before people start taking it upon themselves to begin organizing on a mass scale. . . . We must end the two-party system by funding and voting for alternative parties. It is absurd and completely outdated to only have two dominant political parties in a technologically advanced nation of 309 million people. The two-party paradigm is obsolete and creates a system easily manipulated, as the past decade proves with the co-option of the Democratic and Republican parties. We can give our money and support to whomever we like – Libertarians, Tea Party, Progressives, Greens, Independents and the many soon-to-be-created political groups. However, it is pivotal that we immediately cease support for both the Republican and Democratic parties. We understand that there are representatives from both parties who are fighting for our interests, but they are very few and easily marginalized by paid-off party leaders.
From a letter to the editor of the News-Leader in Springfield Missouri:
I don't know about you but I am tired of Congress and especially the Senate. The Republican and Democratic parties seem to be at war with each other and are not concerned about the folks that put them there. . . . Republicans are against the stimulus bill but take credit for stimulus money projects. They sponsor bills such as a debt panel, and then vote them down. Senators like John McCain -- whom I used to look up to, but is now just another mediocre senator. They are the reason I have changed from a staunch Republican to an independent. Neither party deserves our votes and if this keeps up I think someone will start a third party. Who knows, maybe it would be called the Tea Party. [Emphasis added.]
Today, only the most deluded among us would continue to support the Republican or Democratic Party in any way, shape or form.

California's Top Two Open Primary Act: Pro and Con

Independent and third party activists find themselves on opposite sides of the debate over California's Top Two Primaries Act. Ballotpedia describes the proposition thusly:
The California Top Two Primaries Act ballot proposition is on the June 8, 2010 ballot in California as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment. If approved by voters, the proposal will require that candidates run in a single primary open to all registered voters, with the top two vote-getters meeting in a runoff. The new system would take effect in the 2012 elections. Specifically, it would provide for a "voter-nominated primary election" for each state elective office and congressional office in California. Voters could vote in the primary election for any candidate for a congressional or state elective office without regard to the political party affiliations of either the candidate or the voter. Candidates could choose whether or not to have their political party affiliation displayed on the ballot.
Independents have come out strongly in support of the measure, as it allows unaffiliated voters to participate in the primary selection process. Third party activists, on the other hand, argue against it because it ensures that there will only be two candidates on the ballot in the general election and thus restricts choice. In the third party and independent blogosphere, this split is most clear in the positions of Nancy Hanks, who supports the measure, and Richard Winger, who is against it. This week, The Hankster published guest pieces by authors representing both sides in the debate. In the first, Richard Winger argued that "independents are better off with more choices on the November ballot":
The United States desperately needs political leaders who are committed to new ideas for solving our problems, and who are more interested in advancing those new ideas than they are to just advancing their own personal political career. . . . In democratic countries all over the world, when a leader, or a group, is determined to persuade society that it's time for a particular change in social policy, the traditional way to do that is to form a political party committed to that idea. . . . Unfortunately, in the United States, the ability of people to organize into a new political party and take their case to the voters has been trampled upon. . . .

Proposition 14, the "top-two open primary", has already been tried in two states, Washington (in 2008) and Louisiana (used for Congress 1978-2006, and state office ever since 1975). We know what happens in that system. In Washington, in 2008, for the first time since Washington became a state, there were no independent or minor party candidates on the November ballot for Congress and statewide state office. In Louisiana, no minor party member has ever qualified for the second round. That is why independents, or independent-minded people, who have been elected to important office, such as Ron Paul, Lowell Weicker, Jesse Ventura, and John Anderson, are opposed to a system that leaves just two candidates on the November ballot. New parties, representing movements, can't get a foothold in a system that allows only two candidates on the November ballot.

I believe that it is very desirable that independents be allowed to vote in major party primaries. My opposition to Proposition 14 is not because I am opposed to letting independents vote in major party primaries.
In the second, Harry Kresky responded to Richard Winger's piece in an article entitled "Why Independents Support Open Primaries":
Most of us share Richard’s desire for a politics in which new ideas take priority over political careers. The issue is how to achieve this. He thinks the answer is to protect the status of minor parties on the grounds that they drive new ideas and social change into the mainstream. But the role of third parties as incubators of political change is limited. . . . Americans don’t look to the third parties as instruments for reform, in no small part because they don’t like parties, major or minor . . . “Top-two” is an important step towards non-partisan governance. It does away with party primaries altogether. If the Proposition 14 initiative passes, all voters vote in a first round in which all candidates are listed on the ballot with their party preference next to their name, and the top two go on to the general election which is also open to all voters. . . .

A key issue for independents is full participation in every phase of the electoral process. Top-two is a way to achieve that. Under the current system in California, each party holds its own primary election, and only members of that party have a right to participate. That means that 3,466,855 registered voters in California are not guaranteed the right to participate because they have elected not to register into a political party. They can only vote when a party allows them in its primary. They are not guaranteed a say in who appears on the general election ballot. Passage of Proposition 14 will give all voters the right to participate in every phase of the electoral process.
I'd be interested to hear any comments from readers on the west coast who may be following this debate in the local media.

On the Necessity of Breaking with the Zero-Sum Politics of the Democratic-Republican Party

It is interesting how people working more or less independently of one another can often be found in silent dialogue. At Think 3 Institute, Sam Wilson considers the "crisis of the Republican Party" as represented by the tension between tea party activists and neocons, and writes:
The problem with the Bipolarchy is that the major parties now have power independent of their control of elected offices, and every faction that might otherwise form its own party seeks to infiltrate and control the existing parties because they need power to get power. To return to the popular religious metaphor, the Bipolarchy has "heretics" and inquisitions, but not enough schismatics -- maybe because any schism results in something someone calls a cult. What this country needs now is a few good schisms.
At The Whig, Septimus sketches out the advantages that would result from such explicit "schisms" in the Congress:
One of the spurious arguments against supporting a third party is the assertion that nothing would get done with 3 (or 4, or 5) political parties in Congress. But nothing is being done now, and one of the reasons is the zero-sum game that results from only having two parties in the legislature . . . Now imagine a scenario with multiple parties. The various parties could coalesce in different arrangements depending on the issue. Parties could cooperate on one issue, disagree on another issue, without having to bear the entire weight of public opinion of the President . . .

As currently situated, Congress is either in reaction to, or overly supportive of, the executive branch. All Congressional decisions are taken in light of the position of the White House, as Congress is either controlled by the president's party, or is controlled by the opposition. Either way, the party that controls the executive controls the agenda.

Contrast our situation with the theoretical multi-party Congress. The agenda and priorities would be set by the members themselves. The support of, and the influence of, the executive on the legislature would depend on the issue, and members would look more to their constituents. Wouldn't this hypothetical be better than our current blocked-up, overly centralized and presidential-focused system?

Green Party Reaches Out to Tea Party Activists

Via IPR, On the Wilder Side reworks a Green Party press release reaching out to tea party activists:
Green Party leaders and candidates said that many Tea Party activists might be in the wrong party and urged them to consider going Green. Carl Romanelli, former Green candidate for the US Senate and a member of Health Care for All Pennsylvania (http://healthcare4allpa.org) said:

Not all Tea Party members are befuddled rightwingers screeching that President Obama is a socialist, fascist, pro-terrorist, or all of the above. Many Tea Partiers have legitimate concerns about how the Democratic Party’s health care reform plans will reduce Medicare and about trillion-dollar taxpayer-funded giveaways to Wall Street firms. They are as outraged as Greens are about how both Democrats and Republicans are coddling CEOs, major stockholders, and other wealthy elites while preaching sacrifice for the rest of us.

Greens said corporate royalists like Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, and Sarah Palin who pose as populist leaders have hijacked the Tea Party movement. Rodger Jennings, Green candidate for Congress in Illinois, District 12 (http://www.rodgerjennings.org) said:

Republicans and rightwing ideologues in the media are thrilled with a Tea Party movement that will channel votes and money towards extremist GOP politicians. Their idea of the Tea Party has nothing to do with the 1773 Boston Tea Party. They prefer a movement full of people who would have denounced the original Boston Tea Party as leftist terrorism against the British East India Company. They would have criticized Thomas Jefferson and Thomas Paine for wanting to rein in what Jefferson called ‘the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations.‘* To these Tea Partiers, and to most Republican and Democratic politicians, restraints on corporate power are a symptom of ‘big government.’ Many of the Tea Partiers who vented their rage against health care reform at town hall meetings in 2009 were in effect defending the power of health insurance companies — the modern equivalents of British tea companies — to drive people who need medical care into financial ruin.

Green Party leaders noted that media coverage of health care reform gave a megaphone to the anti-reform Tea Partiers at town hall meetings, while mostly ignoring advocates of Medicare For All (Single-Payer national health care), including many Green Party members, who protested vociferously against the plans offered by President Obama and Democrats in Congress. Examples of such protests include Medicare For All activists disrupting Congressional hearings and burning insurance forms outside meetings of insurance company lobbyists.

Greens, like true fiscal conservatives, oppose subsidies for health insurance companies in the Democratic plans, including proposed ‘mandates’ that would require enrollment. The Green Party has warned that, whether Obamacare is enacted or Republicans succeed in blocking reform, the real winners will be the health insurance, pharmaceutical, and other industry lobbies.

Greens also compared the invasive homeland security measures favored by Republicans and Democrats to the bullying tactics of the British Army and requirement that colonists house British troops on demand.

“We need a Tea Party movement that opposes warrantless surveillance of American citizens, torture, invasion of other countries, and other violations of the US Constitution. We need a Tea Party that calls the ‘general welfare of the people,’ including the right to medical care, more important than the right of insurance and pharmaceutical companies to shake down patients and deny treatment. We need a Tea Party against predatory private prisons, the war on drugs, and mass incarceration of Americans. We need a Tea Party that defends future generations of Americans rather than corporate polluters,” said Lynne Williams, Green-Independent candidate for Governor of Maine. (http://www.lynnewilliams2010.org).

Tea Party Bolshevism, Infiltrationist Strategy and the GOP: How to Provide the Ruling Political Class with an Aura of Legitmacy

At the Whig, Septimus relays an article from the Houston Chronicle on the efforts of tea party activists in the Lone Star State to "change the Republican Party from the ground up." Like their counterparts across the country, these activists have been so deluded by the ideologues and propagandists of the two-party state that they seem to earnestly believe that the solution to the problem represented by the Democratic and Republican Parties is to become part of the problem. The Chronicle reports:
Taking a page from the playbook of social conservatives, the “tea party” movement is trying to change the Republican Party of Texas from the ground up. Tea party activists in the major cities and suburbs across Texas have been recruiting and training candidates for precinct chairs as the building blocks to shift the emphasis of the state GOP from social issues to fiscal restraint by the federal government and individual freedom. “It's going to shock the world,” said Austin Tea Party activist Dean Wright.
Despite Mr. Wright's delusions of grandeur, the level of self-deception required of anyone who believes becoming a petty functionary of the Republican or Democratic Party is a revolutionary act, is indeed truly shocking. Septimus remarks:
A lot of friendly talk in the article from the GOP establishment, who no doubt hope to dupe the Tea Partiers. I wouldn't be suprised if the Tea Partiers end up falling for it. If the GOP was open to changing who they were, then they wouldn't be who they are.
Unfortunately, many, if not most, have already fallen for it. It would be tragic if it weren't so funny. The great irony of the program being pursued by these groups, as I have shown before, is that they have consciously adopted a strategy of infiltration they themselves deride as "radical socialist" and "far left." At American Power, for instance, Donald Douglas has argued that the "Obama phenomenon" is a radical Leninist movement, but that has not stopped him from advocating emulation of the precise strategy which defined that movement. Indeed, tea party activists who advocate the precinct strategy for the infiltration of the GOP proudly tout the fact that it was utilized by the Obama campaign. In an article for the New American on the efforts of these groups, Bob Adelmann wrote:
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. She says, “You don’t have to believe me — see the evidence with your own eyes. Search YouTube using the search words ‘obama precinct captain’.” . . . The mantra of the strategy is: “Take the precinct, take the state, take the party.”
The National Precinct Alliance is one of the more visible groups advocating this strategy. Reading their materials, one could be forgiven for wondering if they are in fact nothing more than a Bolshivist front organization. Their explicit aim is to dictate policy by taking over the party's central committee so as to gain control of its politburo or executive committee. In the explanation of their "solution" we read:
Every two years there is an election most Americans are not aware of… the election of our Precinct Executives. The Precinct Executives elect the Party Leaders and the Party Leaders endorse the candidates for office. Hence, the only way Americans can fire the current local county Party Leaders is through the Precinct System by electing like-minded Precinct Executives . . .

It is the Central Committee that elects the members of the Executive Committee. The Central Committee is made up of one person from each precinct in the County. Each one of those members is called a Precinct Executive. The terms "Precinct Executive" and "Member of the Central Committee" are synonymous. This Central Committee meets once every two years where the Executive Committee is elected "by" the Central Committee. If we want to change the people that make policy, it is our responsibility to ensure that our friends have a majority on the Party's Central Committee.

Given that the precinct strategy is explicitly modeled on "far left" "radical socialist" strategy, we might do well to compare the National Precinct Alliance with their historical forebears among the Soviet Communists. From The History Guide:
Like his Populist predecessors, Lenin continued to stress the need for a party vanguard to lead the revolution . . . He lashed out ruthlessly at his opponents with sarcasm and scorn . . . in London, Paris, Geneva, and other European cities, he maneuvered for control over party committees and publications. He condemned [rival factions] despite being outnumbered by them . . . the real danger as he saw it lay with the liberals and bourgeoisie. [Emphasis added.]
Wikipedia describes the structure of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union, noting that the central committee functioned primarily to give an aura of legitimacy to the decisions handed down by the politburo:
According to Party rules, the Central Committee directed all Party and government activities between each Party Congress. Members of the committee were elected at the Party Congress every five years. The Politburo was elected by and reported to the Central Committee . . .

For most of its existence, the power of the Central Committee was limited by its infrequent meetings and large membership, and true power lay with the Politburo. The Committee functioned as a rubber-stamp to legitimise and give an aura of consensus to Politburo decisions. The Committee would meet only twice a year, with sessions lasting one or two days. Special plenary sessions would be held before a major event, such as a new long-term plan or the selection of a new General Secretary. The elections were fa├žades too, with the membership being selected in advance by the leaders. [Emphasis added.]

Despite the structural realities of the Democratic-Republican global warfare and corporate welfare state, one influential document advocating the precinct strategy to take control of the Republican and Democratic Party central committees argues that the "precinct committeeman is the most powerful office in the world." If it is true that the pettiest functionaries of the Republican and Democratic Parties hold the most powerful office in the world, it is no wonder everything is so fucked up.

MN Independence Party Reaches Out to Tea Party Activists

One of the founders of the Minnesota Reform Party, Dean Barkley, has reached out to tea party activists with an open letter at Minnesota Tea Party Patriots entitled: "Don't start your own party! Take over mine!" Barkley writes:

Hello, my name is Dean Barkley. I have spent the last twenty years trying to change the ways things are done by our corrupt two party system. I began by forming the Reform Party in Minnesota. Later, we changed the name to the Independence Party, ran candidates, and eventually elected Jesse Ventura as the most widely known governor in America. Like you, the traditional political parties hated us. I just ran for the US Senate, and received 15% of the vote – with no money! The point it: change can happen!

People nationwide understand how bankrupt the two party system is (and has bankrupted America, too!). To be effective, this movement must transform into being a real political force and fast. To do so, it must create the legal, financial, and staffing infrastructure that a real political party has. The Republican Party is trying to lure some of you into its folds with pretty promises. But don’t be fooled. They just want your time, money, and votes. And they will continue business as usual – and run things their way!

I consider myself a political revolutionary, and therefore, I am one of you! I created the Independence Party in MN, and I have a plan. If enough tea partiers join the Independence Party, it becomes you! Think of it. YOU run the Independence Party, not the other way around! With all of the legal and political infrastructure elements it has. This will save lots of time and trouble. The scattered tea party people become The Tea Party – in name as well as fact. A real party – that can change things. You can do this in two weeks. Register online at MNIP.org. If three hundred do, and become delegates, they will own the Independence Party. They can change its name to Tea Party – and inherit all the party structure you need! Register to be a delegate. You can do it online. But hurry, the online caucus closes on 2/28/2010.

Let’s get back to the future and back to the United States Constitution, limited government, and the fiscal common sense of living within our means.

In a commentary for Minnesota Public Radio, the current chair of the party, Jack Uldrich, reiterates and refines Barkley's message:

Unlike the other political parties, the Independence Party truly espouses a "Big Tent" philosophy, and we welcome broad-based citizen involvement. That said, the Independence Party also understands it is no longer sufficient to only be against government; it is imperative that political parties also engage in the serious and difficult task of outlining constructive solutions. The Independence Party's rich tradition of putting forward serious and credible candidates every election cycle speaks to this proud history.

To this end, I'm confident that many individual members of the Tea Party movement are also serious about addressing real entitlement reform, controlling government spending, and putting forward meaningful electoral reform. On this basis alone, I encourage those associated with the movement to visit our website and review our party platform.

We don't expect everyone to agree with every platform plank. In fact, we only ask our members and candidates to be in agreement with 75 percent of our core planks and 60 percent of supporting planks. If any citizen, including members of the Tea Party movement -- or any other movement for that matter -- can live within these guidelines, and if they are also willing to engage in honest, constructive and respectful political debate on those issues on which they are in disagreement, then, by all means, the Independence Party welcomes them.

The two party system is failing Minnesota. It has already catastrophically failed at the federal level -- as witnessed by the $14 trillion (and growing) national debt. The Independence Party and the Tea Party movement are two different reflections of this reality. As party chair, I welcome any citizen who is serious about helping get this country back on a sound fiscal track.

A Fable for Our Time: On the Democratic-Republican Political Class War Against the People of the United States and an Addendum on Object Permancence

If someone were to write the definitive political fable of our time, it would likely tell the story of how farm animals formed alliances among themselves in support of the two competing factions from the management at the local slaughterhouse. The most tragic tale would be that of the creatures who should have known they were being fattened for a feast, but simply couldn't help themselves every time they were thrown a bone. This is the sad situation of both progressive Democrats and libertarian Republicans. As an example of the latter, consider a recent post at Charlie's Blog, entitled "The Libertarian Party Should Shut Down." He writes:
The greatest movement for freedom we have seen in some time has been within the GOP. Ron Paul and the Campaign for Liberty represents the spearhead for the libertarian movement. Dr. Paul's failed run for the presidency as a Republican has done more for freedom than anything the LP has done in almost 40 years. The LP served a function for a time including giving Ron Paul his first presidential run. But as it stands, libertarians would be better served getting behind pro-liberty Republicans and small government conservatives.
Of course, it borders on the absurd to argue that the Republican Party is a force for "liberty and small government." If anything, Ron Paul's Campaign for Liberty has been a success despite the fact that he is a member of the GOP. Indeed, the Republican Party is overtly hostile to his message and its messengers. Ron Paul's victory in the recent CPAC straw poll, for instance, was met with heckling an boos and this response was happily touted by conference organizers in interviews with the mainstream media. On Monday, the voice of the Republican Party, Rush Limbaugh, explained away the result:
All I'll tell you is that any organization that has a straw poll vote on who the party presidential candidate ought to be and comes up with Ron Paul is not an organization of conservatives. I just tell you. Something's haywire there. I know the Ron Paul people go in there, but they had been attendees to get in there. Ron Paul winning a straw poll at a conservative conference? . . . if the Conservative Political Action Conference that ends ups with a straw poll vote saying that Ron Paul is the nominee of the party for president, something's gone haywire there . . . This is the Conservative Political Action Committee. It's not some group of Libertarians.
Limbaugh then goes on to explain what he would have said were he to have delivered a speech at the conference and inadvertently provides us with a rhetorical template for any duopolist discourse:
I would have acknowledged the people in the Republican Party who are fighting from within to take it back . . . I would have promoted conservatism and I would have reminded people conservatism is the solution. . . . I certainly would not have ignored the other team on the field, the Democrats. They're the only reason we're in this mess. The Democrat Party is the only reason we are threatened with the things we're threatened with . . . I think I know what's going on and why various people are doing what they're doing and taking positions that they're taking. But the best way to insure that Obama succeeds is to think that we need a third party.
With the appropriate substitutions, any Democrat could deliver the very same speech. The formula: herald ideological victory; defend one faction of the Democratic-Republican Party while blaming the other; and argue against any potential opposition to the two-party state and duopoly system of government on the basis of the spoiler argument. The false premise underlying Limbaugh's imaginary speech is, of course, that the Republican Party is capable of representing anything other than the interests of the Democratic-Republican political class and their corporate benefactors. Ironically, Limbaugh's favorite ideological enemy – the dreaded liberal – shares the same delusion regarding the Democratic Party. Ahead of predicted gains by the GOP in the 2010 elections, the Washington Post reports:
Commercial banks and high-flying investment firms have shifted their political contributions toward Republicans in recent months . . . The wealthy securities and investment industry, for example, went from giving 2 to 1 to Democrats at the start of 2009 to providing almost half of its donations to Republicans by the end of the year.
The reason why the Republican and Democratic Parties cannot satisfy any ideological constituency of the American electorate – whether conservative, libertarian, moderate, liberal or progressive – is because Republicans and Democrats do not represent the American electorate but rather their paymasters in the corporate bi-poligarchy, whose interests are diametrically opposed to those of the people of the United States.

Addendum: Yesterday, Limbaugh continued his assault on third party and independent activists, challenging listeners to identify any worthy candidates for public office who are neither Republicans nor Democrats, with the implication, of course, that none exist:
Now, if you happen to think a third party is the best way to go, then go out there and form it. You think a third party is needed? You go form it. You people who think everybody sucks, go show us how not to suck! You form a third party! Find your candidate, name your party. Go out there and name your congressional candidates and your Senate candidates. Show me how you're going to put together a third party governing force. Show me. You sit out there and saying everybody else sucks, then you say that I suck because I don't realize everybody else sucks . . . Okay. So if you're the only ones that don't suck then you go show us who do suck how not to. Do it! You got all the answers. . . . I want to hear who your third-party leaders are.
Rush Limbaugh has obviously never visited Poli-Tea's list of third party and independent candidates for office in 2010. It is due for an update, given the many newly declared campaigns out there, but as of January 10th it linked to almost 250 candidates for governor, US House and Senate in 42 states! The immaturity of Democratic-Republican Party politics may well be best demonstrated by the fact that the ideologues of the two-party state have yet to achieve a state of object permanence. The fact that they ignore third party and independent alternatives to the representatives of the global warfare and corporate welfare state does not mean that none exist.

Defeating Duopoly Ideology One Misconception, Prejudice and Mystification at a Time: Third Party FAQ

In excellent piece at Slaven Says, independent Chris Slaven has put together a handy Third Party FAQ that covers everything from misconceptions about the constitutional structure of the US political system, to the prejudices and mystifications of duopoly ideology, the necessity of ballot access reform and the herd mentality that aids the reproduction of the Democratic-Republican two-party state. The whole thing is well worth a read. Here are some excerpts:

The Founding Fathers obviously wanted a two-party system; that’s why they put it in the Constitution.

Political parties are unrelated to the Constitution. It does not prohibit them, but neither did it create them. It would be equally constitutional to have one hundred political parties, three, two, one, or none at all. . . .

Even if they’re legal, what’s the point of third parties? You have to be either conservative or liberal; Republican or Democrat. There is no gray area.

That makes about as much sense as saying someone has to be either white or black, and all of those Asians and Latinos are just confused. Nonsense! Compare it to geometry. Is our universe a single line? Can everything be described as being on the left or on the right? Of course not. Just as the world has many dimensions, so does political thought. . . .

Third parties represent legitimate views that aren’t adequately represented by either of the two major parties. But, obviously, Americans aren’t interested in third parties. We vote either Republican or Democrat, and that’s why those are the two major parties.

Not exactly. There was a time (long ago) when the average man could run for office, as a member of any party, or none at all, and still stand a chance of winning. Especially at the local level. . . . But Republicans and Democrats began to work together (for once) to restrict ballot access. Now, if any other party wants to appear on a ballot, it must collect thousands of signatures per state. The same goes for individual candidates. They spend so much time trying to get on the ballot that they hardly have a chance to get their message out to voters. . . .

Okay, so I’ve studied a third-party platform, and I agree with it. I think this Libertarian (or Constitution, Independent, Green, whatever) candidate would be a good representative. But he has no chance of winning. If I vote for him, I’ll just have wasted my vote.

The only wasted vote is the one cast for a candidate you don’t believe in. . . .

I’d rather vote for the lesser of two evils, and have a chance of winning. I don’t want to vote for a third-party candidate and help the greater of two evils to win! If you’re voting for “evil” in the first place, you’re doing wrong. This view is short-sighted; it suggests that we should place more importance on the Democrat-Republican conflict of the next two to four years, than on the long-term benefits of, possibly, transferring support from a misguided major party to a principled third party. . . .

Even if we were to enact fair ballot access laws, and all political parties were equal, it would be bad for the country. We can hardly get anything done with two parties, let alone three, five, or more!

The two major parties are the cause of partisan gridlock; it could not possibly be worse if there were three or five major parties, particularly if each was similar in size and influence. Imagine a political process free of today’s chains of “right” and “left;” in which several competing ideologies would be forced to work together and make compromises. There would no longer be two sides, with each calling itself “right” and the other “wrong”. There would be several sides, each of which might share common ground with other parties. . . .

Well, if everyone would start voting for third-party candidates, so would I.

Then if everyone decapitated themselves in the hopes of being taken to Heaven by a flaming UFO, you would probably join them. Conformity for its own sake is sickening, and an obstacle to progress . . . .

Content in their Chains, Partisans of the Two-Party State Oppose Liberation from the Ideological Prison that is Democratic-Republican Politics

In recent weeks, there have been a number of calls for third party and independent activism geared toward building a moderate or centrist opposition to the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government. Upon announcing his retirement from the Senate, Evan Bayh suggested that the current state of Democratic-Republican politics has created an opening for independent and third party contenders for public office. Reflecting on Bayh's announcement in an op-ed for the New York Times, independent candidate for governor of Rhode Island, Lincoln Chafee wrote:
I can certainly understand Senator Bayh’s remarkable decision to leave, but I also suspect that he’s not willing to give up on Washington. When he suggested recently that a third party could be a viable contender for the White House in 2012, my first thought was that he was focused on a future as an independent — and the exciting new avenues for public service it offers.

In 2001, John Zogby, the pollster, told our Republican caucus, “There is a burgeoning centrist third party waiting to be formed.” Either party could make a strategic decision to capture the center, he said, or both could wait for a third party to fill the vacuum. . . . I say to Senator Bayh: Welcome to the club of independents who are looking for a better way to serve. Before long, we centrists may even come together to define the third party that Mr. Zogby foresaw in 2001.

Two days later, the Independence Party of Minnesota called on New York's independent Mayor Michael Bloomberg to seriously consider running for president in 2012 as an independent:

Jack Uldrich, chairman of the Minnesota Independence Party, has issued a formal call for the Democrat-turned-Republican-turned-independent mayor to "give serious consideration" to a White House run. "The two-party system has catastrophically failed America," Uldrich said. "America needs a serious, credible independent to right our sinking ship and get it back on track to a prosperous future."

Whether it comes from Lincoln Chafee, Michael Bloomberg or (speculation about) Evan Bayh, all this 'What America Really Needs Is a Third Party' talk of late is hooey. Absolute hooey.

In the rambling article that follows, Bohrer appears to forward the absurd argument that what America really needs is more politicians who are willing to support the reproduction of the Democratic-Republican global warfare and corporate welfare state on the Democrats' terms. Similarly, Born Again Redneck highlights a post from Mark Schmitt at the American Prospect asserting that independent politics is nothing more than a fantasy that "protects the status quo." Schmitt concludes:

Because the independence projects fade so fast, the idea never quite goes away. It's always available as an imaginary alternative to the actual political choices before us. As the intense battles over direction of the country in the Obama era heat up, expect more of these well-financed gestures toward yet another independent alternative. Make no mistake -- they are not a path to new politics but consistently a reinforcement of the old.

As independents continue to organize against the two-party political status quo, we should expect to see more attacks against them from partisans of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government. Moreover, we should expect to see attacks in this precise vein, arguing that the Democratic-Republican two-party state is the absolute horizon of all political reality, that the Democratic-Republican two-party system will exist in its present form until the end of time, that consideration of alternatives to the dictatorship of the Democratic-Republican Party is nothing more than fantasy, that we are and will always be the prisoners of the ruling Democratic-Republican political class.

The partisans of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government are the ideological prison guards of the political process, who seek to convince us that all attempts at liberation are futile. In an interview with a reporter for the Providence Journal, the new chair of Rhode Island's Moderate Party, Robert Clark Corrente, argues against this precise mindset because it creates an "atmosphere of inevitability" that suffocates our politics. Comparing independent with third party strategy, he states that both are needed now more than ever, but makes a strong case for the latter over the former:

It needs to get done, Corrente said, because single-party rule is not healthy for Rhode Island. The biggest problem is that single-party dominance creates “an atmosphere of inevitability” in which people figure it’s not worth running for office, getting involved in politics or even voting because the outcome is inevitable, he said. “And as soon as that culture of inevitability sets in it necessarily creates just an enormous amount of apathy.” . . . Corrente said independent candidacies offer one alternative, and he has “a lot of respect for” former U.S. Sen. Lincoln D. Chafee . . .

But, Corrente said, “By definition every independent candidate is a one-and-done. You run and you either win or lose, but you don’t leave anything behind. You don’t leave any foundation, any structure behind for the next person to build on.”

So he’s putting his oar in the water to help launch a new party. “Where is it written in stone that there can only be two parties?” Corrente asked, arguing that the country contains a greater degree of political diversity than that. “You have people all over the spectrum on every possible issue and what do we have for political choices? We have this binary system. You are either a Democrat or a Republican. You can only be blue or red.” . . .

So he’s hoping the Moderate Party “will grow into the force which will allow these people with new and different ideas to coalesce into a credible and viable party.”

On the Infiltration of the Tea Party Movement by Loyalists of the Democratic-Republican Two-Party State

Tea party activists who advocate infiltration of the Democratic-Republican Party rather than independent and third party opposition to the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government would do well to re-open their history books. Imagine if, in the aftermath of the Boston Tea Party, colonists had not maintained their determination to achieve political independence, but rather sought accommodation with the British parliament and crown. Imagine if these colonists argued that the best way forward was not opposition to and confrontation with the ruling political establishment, but rather that the best strategy was to join with the Tories and Whigs in the British Parliament under the heel of the King to cement the relations of power that led to the groundswell of political discontent in the first place. Of course, there were such colonists. They sided with the crown against the revolutionaries and were derided as Loyalists by the Patriots of the American revolution. Sadly, in today's tea party movement, true patriots can be difficult to find while loyalists are a dime a dozen. Worse yet, the latter are even celebrated for their political cowardice and their reactionary support for the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government.

Among the most vocal supporters of the infiltration strategy are Eric Odom of Tax Day Tea Party and Erick Erickson of Red State. Following this year's CPAC conference in Washington DC, both of these activists have reiterated their reactionary support for the reproduction of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and their opposition to freedom and independence from the ruling apparatus of the political class. Erickson's inability to properly diagnose the sickness ailing the American body-politic is perfectly clear when he writes:
it is not the Republican Party that is the problem. It is the Republican leadership . . . if you are tempted to go with a third party, don’t. Instead, get involved in the Republican Party. Change it.
The contradiction inherent to Erickson's position is revealed at the end of the piece, when he writes:
This year conservatives must take risks instead of staying with the status quo just because it is easier. Conservatism is on the ascendency. But it will ascend within the GOP, not via a third party.
So, the Red State duopolist ideologue argues that conservatives must "take risks" against the "status quo," but he advocates a strategy that requires immediate accommodation with the ruling status quo, as represented by the Republican and Democratic Parties, because it is the safe and easy alternative to struggling for real political freedom and independence! In a similar vein, Eric Odom argues that support for third party and independent alternatives to the Democratic-Republican establishmentarian ruse would be nothing less than a disaster:
Some tea party activists still think a third party is the right way to go. We get email every day that suggests the two party system has failed us and we should try a third party. The problem is, however, the third party route has already been tried and failed. Not only has it failed, it has never really had any success at all! . . . this is the time for us as a movement to choose the vessel most likely to carry new candidates into Washington. And more importantly, replace incumbents in Washington.
What Odom fails to mention in his revisionist history lesson is that infiltrationist strategy has also "already been tried and failed." Infiltrationist strategy does not even hold out the possibility of achieving freedom and independence from the ruling political establishment. Even if it is successful, an infiltrationist strategy ensures nothing more than the reproduction of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government. Its success is failure. It neither confronts nor solves the political problem facing the people fo the United States, but rather re-creates it: the infiltrationist advises a strategy of capitulation from the outset. On the other hand, even if an independent, third party campaign is defeated, the result is effectively the same as that of a successful infiltrationist campaign – a Republican or Democrat is elected – but it nonetheless demonstrates real support for freedom and independence from the dictatorship of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and creates momentum and infrastructure necessary for the ongoing struggle against the establishmentarian political class. However, if any independent or third party campaign is successful, it strikes a blow for political freedom and independence from the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government everywhere and in its entirety.

Those who argue in favor of accommodation with and infiltration of the Democratic-Republican Party are actively opposed to political freedom and independence. They represent the betrayal of that which the Boston Tea Party stands for. They make a mockery of the American revolutionary tradition and the struggle for political freedom and independence. They are the loyalists of the two-party state and duopoly system of government.

Democratic-Republican Politics: You are Free to Do as You are Told

At the Times Daily, out of Alabama it seems, columnist Mike Goens argues that, given the structure of the two-party state and the dictatorial character of Democratic-Republican politics, third party and independent political activism may well provide the only means of arriving at real solutions to the many political problems facing the people of the United States:
When George W. Bush was president, Democrats screamed that this country would be in ruins if he didn't get out of office soon. The screaming has become a little louder from the Republican point of view now that Barack Obama is president. . . .

To date, no one in government seems willing to put aside party labels long enough to fix any problems. . . . Politics have created a huge divide in our country. The attitude is you're either with me all the time or against me all the time. You can't vote your opinion; you must vote as you are told. How do you solve issues with that kind of attitude? . . .

If we can't find a true third party in this country - people who have common sense and are truly interested in doing good instead of what their party tells them to do - we could be in trouble. One thing is certain: We can't continue ignoring our problems.

The Ugly Face of the Democratic-Republican Political Class, or, Why Would Any Self-Respecting Independent Vote Democrat or Republican?

At The Hankster, Nancy Hanks has been following developments in the efforts of independents in Kentucky to open the Democratic and Republican primary elections to independent voters. The grassroots group Independent Kentucky is currently pushing for passage of a bill that would do just that. At the California Independent Voter Network, Ryan Jaroncyk writes:

Fed up with the two-party system, independents scored a huge victory for more open primaries in the Kentucky state senate. Despite strong opposition from Democrats, the Kentucky Senate voted to allow registered independents the opportunity to participate in the primary elections. The vote moves to the Kentucky House where Democrats comprise a majority, putting passage in jeopardy.

Independent Kentucky, a grassroots nonpartisan organization, is leading the growing effort to allow the tens of thousands of registered independents a voice in the primary elections. If the bill somehow passes the Kentucky House, independent voters could participate for the first time, though they would have to request a partisan ballot in a semi-open primary model. Partisan opposition is adamant that the current two-party system is the purest form of American democracy and should not be altered to placate those individuals who refuse to participate in the dominant, electoral model. [Emphasis added.]

That "partisan opposition" to the efforts of independent activists is, of course, the Democratic-Republican political class and ruling establishment. In Kentucky, the ugly face of that opposition is provided by former Governor and sitting Democratic State Senator, Julian Carroll. In a recent CNN report on the efforts of Kentucky's independents, Carroll revealed the dictatorial and totalitarian sense of entitlement that drives the Democratic-Republican elite in their opposition to the empowerment of the people of the United States. What follows is a transcription, from the video embedded below, of Carroll's interaction with independent activist Michael Lewis and of his interview with a reporter from CNN:

Carroll: What you're saying is "I don't like the way America runs its political system," well if you don't like it, move to another country.
Lewis: That's not true Senator. Don't you want to talk about something real instead of these false truths that you're spreading.
Carroll: If they want a party, fine, we'll create a party, and then they can have their own party, that believes in their own principles.
CNN Reporter: Independents don't want to have their own party.
Carroll: I could care less what they want. I'm telling you how we operate a democracy in America, we operate a democracy in America with the two-party system.
Carroll: You're trying to destroy the two-party system in America and I'm not gonna be a part of it. End of discussion.
Lewis: There is no party here sir. [Emphasis added.]
For partisans of the ruling Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government, empowering the people of the United States amounts to nothing less than an attack on the foundations of American democracy. Why any self-respecting independent would want to participate in Democratic and Republican Party primaries and thereby aid the Democratic-Republican ruling establishment in their ongoing class war against the people of the United States remains unclear: if you support Republicans or Democrats rather than actual independent candidates for office, in what sense are you an independent? What remains all too clear is that the destruction of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government is the very condition of political freedom and independence in the United States today.

Democratic-Republican Politics and Homegrown Suicide Terrorism: Cause and Effect?

The immediate politicization of Joe Stack's final act by partisans of the Democratic and Republican Parties simultaneously demonstrates both its success as an act of political terrorism and the degeneracy of Democratic-Republican politics. Examples are not hard to come by. At No More Mister Nice Blog, Steve M. writes:
So how do you think the more shameless howler monkeys of the right blogosphere and punditocracy are going to react? They're going to accuse Stack of "class warfare." They're going to say he hated God. In other words, they're going to call him "Liberal Terrorist Joseph Stack" -- probably before the day is out, and for weeks to come . . . And so it begins:
Andrew Wilcow of the Sirius XM Conservative Talk Radio Show - The Wilcow Majority, was able to pull down a copy of Joseph Stack’s "manifesto," before the FBI pulled it off the web. It proves Joseph Stack was anti-Bush, anti-founding fathers, anti-constitution, pro-Obama and pro-communist. The left wing will get their ass handed to them on a platter when they suggest that he was an anti-establishment "tea bagger." He was in fact a left wing radical domestic terrorist.
On the other side of the duopoly divide, Michelle Malkin writes:
within minutes of the story breaking, a furious, left-wing blogger at the popular Daily Kos website – where countless Democrat leaders have guest-posted – fumed: “Teabagger terrorist attack on IRS building.” . . . At the eponymous mega-website of Arianna Huffington, a 2,000-plus comment thread was filled with allusions to “teabaggers”: "I would bet he has a membership card to teabag nation and the Glenn Beck fan club!" . . . "I hope teabaggers are proud!!" . . . "Great opening day for CPAC [the Conservative Political Action Conference] isn’t it??" . . . "He was a Tea Party Terrorist."
The obvious glee among Democrats and Republicans as they each identify Stack's motivations with the ideological impulses of the other is matched only by the clear enjoyment they extract from the act of denouncing the other for doing so. When confronted with the absurdity of ideological Rorschach phenomena such as this, sometimes the most appropriate response is simply to consider the two lines of attack together and take them to their logical conclusion. To wit: suicide terrorism is the result of Democratic-Republican Party politics. Stack implies as much in the opening paragraphs of his suicide letter:
While very few working people would say they haven’t had their fair share of taxes (as can I), in my lifetime I can say with a great degree of certainty that there has never been a politician cast a vote on any matter with the likes of me or my interests in mind. Nor, for that matter, are they the least bit interested in me or anything I have to say.
There are likely a great many Americans who would basically agree with this statement. Indeed, consider the results of a Rasmussen poll released today:
Seventy-three percent (73%) of U.S. voters agree . . . that “Washington right now is broken.” . . . 75% of all voters now say they are angry at the government’s current policies, up four points from late November and up nine points since September. Sixty percent (60%) think neither Republican political leaders nor Democratic political leaders have a good understanding of what is needed today . . . Scott Rasmussen observes that the American people are “united in the belief that our political system is broken, that politicians are corrupt, and that neither major political party has the answers.” He adds that “the gap between Americans who want to govern themselves and the politicians who want to rule over them may be as big today as the gap between the colonies and England during the 18th century.”
The longer the Democratic-Republican political class is allowed to wage its undeclared war of attrition against the people of the United States in the interests of maintaining and expanding the power of the global warfare and corporate welfare state, the more likely we are to see a rise in acts of violence directed at the symbols of state power.

Connecticut Independents Organize Against Democratic-Republican Ruling Coalition

Last summer, in a post on grassroots independent and third party activism in Connecticut, I wrote:
It should come as no surprise that one of the two Independents in the US senate represents the state of Connecticut. The majority of voters in the state are not affiliated with any political party whatsoever. And their numbers are growing. In 1989, Independents accounted for 33% of registered voters in the state. In 2004, 44% of registered voters in the state were not affiliated with any party . . . Late last year, the Stamford Plus reported that there were twenty-four active parties in Connecticut. This year has witnessed the foundation of at least two more. The Milford, Connecticut Independent Party was launched in April, and now residents in the town of Chester have launched the Common Ground Party.
The New Haven Register reports that the Milford Independent Party is currently in the process of formalizing its organizational structure to put themselves in a position to defeat the ruling Democratic-Republican establishment coalition:
The Milford Independent Party is planning to create a more formal organizational structure, which leaders hope will put them on an equal playing field with Republicans and Democrats. At a meeting Monday, the party will form a town committee, adopt bylaws, elect officers and attempt to recruit a full slate of candidates for state and local elections . . .

Stephen Borer, an organizer who ran for the Board of Aldermen from the 1st District in November, said it’s time to offer another alternative. “People are tired of the two-party system not working for them,” he said . . . Borer added that the party will seek to nominate a full slate of candidates for state and local elections. The Milford group will become affiliated with the state Independent Party.

Off the Cliff: How much longer will you play follow the leader with the Democratic-Republican Party?

Though Aristotle could indicate the truth in matters such as ethics only roughly and in gross outline, the Judeo-Christian tradition allows us to do so with great precision. In response to my previous post in favor of political independence from – and against opportunistic infiltration of – the Democratic-Republican Party, Mitchell Langbert writes:
David Hume said that skepticism did not prevent him from making merry with his friends. For truly believing radical skepticism otherwise would paralyze him. Hume's skepticism denies the possibility of science. We all know that science works. Nor would Hume say that it couldn't work, rather that it is based on non-rational assumptions. As Aristotle said about ethics . . .
To argue that radical skepticism regarding the present in the face of historical precedent denies the possibility of science is definitely an uncharitable reading of Hume. One could argue, on the contrary, that the proposition rather implies the necessity of experimentation. In the present context, the results under consideration are clear. The ongoing experiment in representative government that is the Democratic-Republican global warfare and corporate welfare states demonstrates that Democratic-Republican Party government is an abject failure: the centralization and monopolization of political power by the Democratic and Republican Parties itself represents a threat to constitutional republican government. And it is not possible to restore constitutional government by means of the Democratic and Republican Parties because the very form of Democratic-Republican politics today functions to undermine constitutional government. This is but one reason why political independence from and active political opposition to the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government should be preferred to opportunistic infiltration of the Democratic and Republican Parties. The problem represented by the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government cannot be solved within the confines of the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government. Langbert insists that any third force in American politics that could challenge the two party system must have a national leader:
To focus a movement of millions of people requires a focal point that is easily grasped. It requires a symbol. Few Americans know who their state assemblyman is, but most know who the president is because the president is an easily understood human symbol. We are all limited beings. A leader identifies the movement or organization. He or she provides a personality.
Mr. Langbert perfectly describes how the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government has inverted the relationship between the people of the United States and the government of the United States: the function and order of political representation has been short circuited and replaced with a set of imaginary and symbolic identifications. People do not even know the name of their most direct representative, but they're on a first name basis with the president. Of course, the more people are alienated from government in this way, the more likely we are to see apathy and indifference – and irrational violence, one might add – as the result. The Democratic and Republican Parties have an active interest in maintaining such apathy and indifference; arguably, it is a condition of their continued existence. Ironically, however, for this precise reason it is not necessary to galvanize "a movement of millions of people" to defeat the Democratic-Republican political charade. Many, if not most, elections are decided in the end by thousands or hundreds, or even, pathetically, by only dozens of individuals. In the recent special election in Missouri's 62nd district, under 1500 out of 30,000 eligible voters cast a ballot. Langbert concludes:
So where will the Tea Party find its leader? Necessarily in the rank-and-file of the Tea Party itself.
Here we see yet another argument against infiltration. As the establishmentarian machine eats up the movement, it is likely to result in the production of "leaders" and "personalities" not out of the dynamics of the rank and file, but rather by the calculus of the party apparatus in conjunction with the corporate media and in the service of the ruling political status quo. There is no lack of leadership in the United States. There are right now literally hundreds, if not thousands of independent and third party candidates for office at all levels of government. We don't need more leaders, we need to stop playing follow the leader with the Republican and Democratic Parties. They are leading us off the cliff.

On Political Independence: Against Infiltrationism, Charismatic Authoritarianism and Historical Determinism

Mitchell Langbert has responded to my post on "tea partisanship and the necessity of resisting the temptation of infiltration" by arguing that "tea parties should work within the GOP." Mr. Langbert puts forward two interrelated arguments in favor of infiltration and against political independence: 1) there is no national leader to galvanize a third party movement, and 2) historically, Americans have demonstrated a commitment to the two-party system. He writes:
It is unlikely that the Tea Party will ultimately constitute a major party. The reason is its inability to find a national leader . . . There are several reasons why a third party will not work. First, Americans have been committed to a two party system almost since the first Congress . . . If you look at the history of the parties they were all started by charismatic or special leaders . . . Second, there is a long history of third parties playing a prodding role in American history . . . [but] the major parties have been good at integrating insurgent interests. In contrast, insurgents have been generally poor at building independent parties . . . Infiltration of the GOP is possible . . . That is a more fertile strategy for the Tea Party than to start a third party.
Langbert thus advises accommodation with the Democratic-Republican two-party state and the duopoly system of government on the basis of charismatic authoritarianism and historical determinism. Each of these arguments is easily refuted and I have dealt with each at some length before. In the present historical juncture, the central contradiction inherent to charismatic authoritarianism is not difficult to discern. From a post on the leader principle and the messianic impulse in Democratic-Republican politics, last November:
for those who have not yet fully liberated themselves from the straitjacket of duopoly ideology, [freedom from the Democratic-Republican Party] appears possible only on the basis of a mass movement subsumed under the leader principle. The paradox here is readily apparent: the devolution of power is conceived as contingent upon its gross consolidation.
The historical argument, on the other hand, is negated by the very existence of a third party and independent political tradition in the United States; and, though it was revived by doctrinaire Marxists over the course of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the sort of historical determinism it presupposes was refuted by David Hume in his Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding from 1748, where the Scottish philosopher wrote:
That the sun will not rise to-morrow is no less intelligible a proposition, and implies no more contradiction than the affirmation that it will rise.
Finally, Langbert simply does not account for the fatal flaw inherent to all infiltrationist strategy, namely, its capitulation to the ruling political establishment. Rather than confront the greatest political problem facing the people of the United States, infiltrationism reproduces the greatest political problem facing the people of the United States: the dictatorship of the Democratic-Republican Party and the duopoly system of government. The infiltrationist prefers political co-dependency to political independence.

The Only Good Democratic-Republican Politician is an Ex-Democratic-Republican Politician

Of the few things any Republican or Democratic politician could do in order to make him- or herself into a figure worthy of respect rather than simply contempt, resigning an office is likely one of the most effective. On his way out the door of the Senate, Democrat Evan Bayh suggests the current state of the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government has created an opening for third party politics. Via HuffPo:
In an interview with Charlie Rose, Bayh took pains to emphasize his support for President Obama's re-election, but said disarray within both political parties has created an opening for a third-party contender. Bayh called it "a Ross Perot Moment" -- a sentiment that has been echoed recently by New York Times columnist David Brooks.
From Bayh's interview with Charlie Rose:
Sen. BAYH: Well, there's a high level of frustration with the two-party system out there. And the public voted--concluded the Republicans weren't doing a very good job of solving our challenges. They're giving our party, the Democrats, a chance. I think the president very much wants to be a change agent. He's making a sincere effort. Not enough members of Congress are listening, either because of partisan or ideological reasons. his is, in some ways, another--for lack of a better phrase, "a Ross Perot moment." You remember back then, the deficit was unsustainably high. The economy was struggling. People had a sense that Washington was just broken, and they looked for someone from completely outside the system . . . if the economy does not improve . . . . that could be the kind of thing that, in spite of everyone's efforts, would really galvanize public opinion against everyone in Washington, regardless of party.
In a letter to the editor of Indiana's Lacrosse Tribune, a reader considers Bayh's retirement and argues that "the two-party system is the problem":

The two-party system is the primary problem with American politics. During the past 20 years, this has been exacerbated by the inexorable convergence of Republicans and Democrats. Despite what the lunatic fringes holler, it is exceedingly difficult to discern an average Dem from an average GOPer. The electorate will be better served if at least one viable third party emerges. An America with left, center and right parties will provide two more choices than what is currently realized.

On Political Independence and the Dictatorship of the Democratic-Republican Two-Party State

One of the most curious paradoxes in American politics is the disconnect between public dissatisfaction with the congress as a whole and the public's dissatisfaction with their congressional representatives in particular. Consider the findings from a recent poll commissioned by CNN:

The CNN/Opinion Research Corp. poll, released Tuesday, indicates that only 34 percent feel that current federal lawmakers deserve re-election, with 63 percent saying no. According to the survey, 51 percent feel their own member of Congress should be re-elected -- also an all-time low in CNN polling -- while 44 percent say their representative doesn't deserve to be returned to office in November.

So, to recap: 63% say federal lawmakers should not be re-elected, but 51% say their own representative should be re-elected. What this disparity represents is the unwillingness or inability of the American voter, in the aggregate, to admit responsibility for the reproduction of the problem that is the Democratic-Republican two-party state and duopoly system of government: it is always someone else's representative who is the representative of the problem. But the reality is exactly the opposite. If you are dissatisfied with the federal legislature, and you continue to vote for Republicans or Democrats, you are the problem.

The political apparatus of the Republican and Democratic Parties, bolstered by the ideology of the two-party state, is dedicated to making you complicit in the reproduction of the problem that is the dictatorship of the Democratic-Republican two-party state. There is no lack of examples in this regard. The Progressive Professor, for instance, argues that third party and independent activism is futile:

This concept going around that an “Independent” or third party can somehow win over enough support and revolutionize the party system we have had since 1854, when the Republican party was created, is a fallacy, as our political system has never allowed for such a concept, certainly not for the White House, and only very rarely for a seat in Congress or a Governorship.

Apparently, it is progressive to profess reactionary support for the two-party state on the basis of the assertion that the two-party state "will not allow" even the "concept" of third party or independent opposition to the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government. However, the Professor immediately goes on to admit that there are currently two independents in the US Senate and that three independent or third party governors have been elected in just the last twenty years. So it is impossible to elect third party and independent candidates for office, but it is not impossible to elect third party and independent candidates for office. The professor falls prey to one of the most common mystifications of duopoly ideology.

Ironically, in calling upon independents to declare their political co-dependency with the Democratic and Republican Parties, the so-called Progressive Professor's position is virtually indistinguishable from that of Republican duopolist ideologue Sarah Palin. CBS reports the former Vice Presidential candidate's remarks on the independence of the tea party movement:
"Now the smart thing will be for independents who are such a part of this Tea Party movement to, I guess, kind of start picking a party," Palin said. "Which party reflects how that smaller, smarter government steps to be taken? Which party will best fit you? And then because the Tea Party movement is not a party, and we have a two-party system, they’re going to have to pick a party and run one or the other: ‘R’ or ‘D’."
Perhaps the only people who are more deluded than conservatives who believe the Republican Party stands for small government and the principle of freedom are progressives who believe the Democratic Party stands for civil rights and the principle of justice. In their common demand that independents declare their dependency on the Democratic or Republican Party, the "progressive" professor and the "conservative" commentator demonstrate that the ideology undergirding the Democratic-Republican two-party state is neither progressive nor conservative, but rather reactionary and dictatorial.

Utah Group Declares Independence, Begins Independent Petition Drive

In Utah, a group called The People's Right has begun an organizing campaign geared specifically toward the election of independent candidates for office. The Salt Lake Tribune reports on the launch of the effort on President's Day:
One grassroots group took advantage of Presidents Day as the opportune time to launch its own brand of revolution. "In honor of the first president, George Washington, it is the right and duty of the people to declare independence from partisan politics," said Dale Ure of The Peoples Right. Citing a section of state law that allows an organization of voters to qualify independent candidates outside the established party system, The Peoples Right announced the Utah Independent Project, with its chief aim to run a no-strings-attached candidate for governor and other high-profile offices. "We are not looking for the traditional politician," said Alton resident Sharla Christie, a regional coordinator for The Peoples Right. With that in mind, the group said that self-nominations will be rejected at its regional and statewide meetings to be held Feb. 27 at the Territorial State House in Fillmore. "We will have 70 to 100 meetings in the next two weeks," Christie said. "We don't run this -- the people do. We just give them the tools." The group's new Web site, www.utahlive.us is key to building momentum to meet the March 19 filing deadline for state and federal races, Christie said.
On the site's "About" page we read:
The Peoples Right is a group of Utah voters whose purpose is to promote, find and support independent candidates for public office who will take an oath not to accept bribes “corporate donations” or become corrupted with personal use of campaign funds.
As I wrote early last month in a profile of Utah's independent candidates for congress, it is anybody's game there.

Ross Levin on the Vicious Circle and Third Party Politics

As part of a Green Change campaign to raise awareness of issues relating to electoral reform, Ross Levin has penned a lengthy article on the necessity of thinking beyond the two-party system, that covers everything from the perception that there's no difference between the Republican and Democratic Parties to the power of incumbency, ballot access restrictions, gerrymandering and district rigging, the devolution of the system into a one-party state, and voting system reform. Some excerpts:

I’m not going to pull any punches here. I detest the two party system. I believe that it undermines representative government. It makes our government more responsive to corporations than to citizens. It decreases the chances of progress and it results in many good ideas being shut out of the national political debate.

The limits imposed on this nation by the two party system are slowly leading to its demise. Partisan gridlock in Washington, outright corruption, the absurd difficulty of kicking out incumbents, corporate control of Washington, and the infamous backwardness of many local governments (among many things) are all symptoms of this same disease. And I do not use that language lightly . . .

Basically what I’m saying here is that the two party system is not as much of a naturally occurring phenomenon as many people believe it is. There are many laws and practices in place that create a vicious cycle of third party failure. . . .

A few months ago I spoke to Terry Bouricius over the phone about the Progressive Party’s success in Vermont. Terry is rare, politically. He was actually a successful third party politician, elected to ten years on the Burlington City Council and five terms in the Vermont House of Representatives. He ran as an independent, and then later as a Progressive. Now, the Vermont Progressive Party is the most successful third party in the nation. Terry told me that one of the three most significant factors in that success was that when it started in Burlington, the city was filled to the brim with Democrats and no one else. Voters wanted choices, and they were sick of the comfortable Democrats not listening to their demands. So the Progressives stood up and successfully filled that gap. They now hold the mayoralty of Burlington, along with two city council seats there, five seats in the state House of Representatives, and one seat in the state Senate. Not to mention, although he’s not officially affiliated, US Senator Bernie Sanders is closely associated with them. They are a political force in Vermont.

The whole piece is definitely worth a read.

Tea Partisanship and the Strategic Necessity of Resisting the Temptation of Infiltration

In April of last year, following the tea party tax day protest, I argued that there were three distinct emerging camps within the tea party movement:
1) Republicans who argue that the current crop of GOP representatives need to be challenged in upcoming primaries; 2) independents who recognize that their interests are not served by either of the duopoly parties, but who have yet to break from the system as such, and could conceivably vote Republican, Democrat or even third party in future elections; 3) activists who have broken with the two party system, and advocate third party insurgent campaigns.
Almost a year later, we are now witnessing the institutional articulation of these differences as they are translated into actionable political strategy. Yesterday, I highlighted how tea party activists in South Carolina and Nevada were fighting to maintain their independence from the political apparatus of the Democratic-Republican two-party state, the former by resisting the state GOP's attempt to absorb the grassroots groups' umbrella organization, the latter by registering their organization as an official political party. Today, the LA Times reports on "tea party activists filtering into the GOP at the ground level," which is for the most part a profile of groups using the precinct strategy to infiltrate the Republican Party, the National Precinct Alliance, headed by Philip Glas in particular. The piece specifically highlights infiltrationist movements in South Carolina and Nevada:
In South Carolina, a coalition of tea party groups has made a formal agreement with the state GOP to urge its members to get engaged at the precinct level. In Nevada, a group of "constitutional conservatives" working under the tea party banner has already taken control of the Republican Party in the Las Vegas area, gaining enough strength to elect six of the seven members of the county executive committee.
In both of these states, then, we can see a clear tension between GOP infiltrationists and those advocating independent or third party strategy. Interestingly, and perhaps inadvertently, the article also reveals the fatal flaw at the heart of the infiltrationist strategy. If the tea party phenomenon is an anti-establishmentarian movement, its infiltrationist factions have already been defeated:
Many Republican Party leaders have welcomed the activity, particularly because they worried that the energy driving the tea party movement might create a third party that would split the conservative vote.
As thinkers have known since at least the time of Sun Tzu, the highest form of strategy is one that attacks and undermines the opponent's strategy. Infiltrationist strategy, however, plays right into the hands of the ruling political establishment: filling out the apparatus of the Democratic-Republican Party political machine is literally exactly what the ruling political establishment wants you to do!

Tea Party Groups Maintain Independence from the GOP

Tea party groups in South Carolina and Nevada are demonstrating their independence from the political apparatus of the Democratic-Republican duopoly system of government. The Politico reports on a failed attempt by the South Carolina GOP to hijack the state's grassroots tea party organizations:
The alliance between the South Carolina Republican Party and the state’s tea party organizations seems to have lasted less than a week, as grassroots groups chafed at the idea of being absorbed into the party apparatus . . . The partnership announced Monday by state GOP Chairwoman Karen Floyd and Harry Kibler of the Upstate Coalition of Conservative Organizations, an umbrella group of tea party organizations, was intended to create liaisons between the state party and the grass roots . . . But after getting calls from tea party groups across the country accusing the South Carolina organizations of selling out to the GOP, Kibler and the groups he represents are backing away from the state party . . . Kibler sent a press release Thursday blasting Floyd’s “misrepresentation of facts,” and announced he would be holding a news conference Friday to discuss the relationship. It seems that many who did not trust the GOP’s intentions from the very beginning are now convinced that the GOP’s intent continues to be to confuse, divide and hence conquer this Liberty Movement of which they appeared to be frightened not only in South Carolina, but also all over the nation,” he added.
Meanwhile, it appears that tea party groups in Nevada will attempt to register as an official third party and run their own candidate in opposition to Democrat Harry Reid:
Sun columnist Jon Ralston is reporting that the Tea Party has qualified as a third party in Nevada and will have a candidate in the Senate race to battle for the seat held by Majority Leader Harry Reid. The party has filed a Certificate of Existence but needs to get 1 percent of the electorate to vote for its candidate in November to permanently qualify, according to the report. Ralston reported that Jon Ashjian will be the Tea Party's U.S. Senate candidate on the November ballot. Ashjian still must declare his candidacy. There are six other third-party candidates going through the verification process to appear on the ballot as U.S. Senate candidates — one Reform Party hopeful and five as independents, Ralston reported.

The Green Party and Independent Progressive Political Strategy

Late last week, Jeff Roby at FDL sketched out a proposal for an independent-progressive revolt against the Democratic Party with the goal of creating an organizational structure capable of mounting serious challenges to the Democratic-Republican two-party state in future elections. He writes in part:

I think the times they are a’changing, and 3rd party politics needs a new look. Three changes: (1) having spent years in the wilderness, Democrats have elected a Democratic president and Congress, and it has turned to ashes in their mouths; (2) self-declared independents, amorphous, once marginal and still largely unorganized, have become the largest single bloc among American voters; (3) the teabagger movement has shaken us, both because they pose a real fascist threat, and because we sense that many of them are our sisters and brothers and would be with us now, if only we could have controlled our laughter at their silly signs and seen the valid fear and rage behind them at a government out of control.

The critical alliance is between independent progressives, and the left wing of the Democratic Party. . . . Central to the Full Court Press is building infrastructure. . . . . An question that keeps popping up in the discussions I’ve been having is how the Greens will relate to this, and how we may want to relate to the Greens. . . . Options:

(1) Go with the breakaway, the most mainstream elements of it. This is where the action will be, the chance to influence large numbers into something new. The Full Court Press, while taking no position, is well-positioned for this. (2) Go big into the Greens. This can take two forms: (2a) Assume that the Dem breakaway will dissipate itself despite all the hoopla, and dig in to build the Greens long-term. (2b) Go into the Greens with the intention of influencing them to back the breakaway. If I were going into the Greens, that would be my instinct. (3) There is also the option of sticking with the Democrats completely.