I know many of the people who read this blog would love to see a "third party" pop up. Unfortunately, our system is built in such a way that all a third party does is weaken one of the other two. This is why the progressive movement keeps failing; we keep hoping for things that can't happen, and we look down on those things that can happen.
It's important for everyone to realize that elections are the most important element in a democratic republic. They are the linchpin for everything. Marching and occupying is not, in itself, an expression of democracy. If such activism is not followed by effective campaign strategy that puts the best available people in office every single time, then it’s pretty much worthless.
That phrase is key. The BEST AVAILABLE candidate. In a democracy as diverse as ours, the best available candidate will almost never be far left, unless he or she represents a full-on left district. Sorry.
I know, you don't want to hear that. But here's the thing; the reason there are so many right wingers in the government is because they've embraced the electoral process, and they've adopted, and virtually taken over a major political party, like parasites feeding from a host. And we can't really make progress until we get rid of them. We outnumber them; it should be easy. Yet, it's not, because they tend to be parasites, using the political party apparatus to make themselves more powerful, while we flail on the outside, and expect the parties to do our bidding.
Over the past 32 years, The Republican Party and its right wing parasites have taken a nation that was once an economic and social beacon for the rest of the world, and all but trashed it. We’re still the richest country in the world on paper, but anyone with two eyes can see we won’t remain that way for long at the rate we’re going. Austerity is for companies and countries who have failed.
If you want a truly universal health care system, or you want to slow down climate change, or you want banks broken up, or you want to take the money out of politics and reform the lobbying system, or you want poverty eradicated, or you want great schools, and strong labor unions, or you want everyone to make a living wage, that's awesome. All but the really far right wing want the same things. But the simple fact is, none that can ever happen unless we populate Congress with people who are at least receptive to such ideas, and rid Congress of people who block them.
All political progress is dependent on elections, because governance is undertaken by the product of those elections. Whether you like it or not, our politics is dominated by two major parties; the Democratic Party and the Republican Party. Those who are truly "independent" of those two parties make up perhaps 10-15% of the population. Last I looked, no one could win an election with 10% of the vote. Not only that, but many of those "independents" are pretty right wing. Because of the way the democratic system works, these are the choices those who came before us left us with. In a winner-take-all system, it’s something of a minor miracle that we have TWO major parties; many such systems often feature one predominant party. It is ludicrous to think a “third party” can even be remotely viable. You have to become a major first or second party, or don’t even bother. If you have a problem with this, blame mathematics. If this was a parliamentary system, more than two parties would be viable, but it’s not. Perhaps ironically, if you'd like to turn this into a parliamentary system, you need to work within the current system and win elections to do so.
In order to fix any system, we have to get inside that system and tinker with it. No amount of wishes and fairy dust is going to change things. An HVAC technician can stand on the outside and get the furnace to work. In order to fix it, he'll have get inside to clear obstructions, just as we have to start clearing out the obstructions in our political system. Unfortunately, the way our political system is designed, we only have a choice between getting rid of minor obstructions OR major blockages. We can’t do both at once.
Back in 2010 election, the solution to our problems was clear. Forty-two Republican Senators were blocking hundreds of bills that would have made our lives better, so all we had to do was replace a few Republicans with Democrats. Simple, right? Problem solved. Three to four more Democrats in the Senate, and we’d be looking at another stimulus, a greatly expanded ACA, possibly even a public option, and numerous jobs bills. Instead, some of the loudest “progressives” out there targeted DEMOCRATS!
What's sickening is, they took pride in it. It was amazing. Replacing Blue Dog Democrats with teabaggers was NOT a “progressive” thing to do, and we can never let it happen again.
In just about every case, the races for Congress that take place in 2014 will give voters the choice between a Republican and a Democrat. Those are the only two choices. There is no “smorgasbord” of candidates with a variety of positions to choose from who can actually win and affect policy. You have column D and column R. That’s it.
Since 1980, our politics have been increasingly dominated by a radical fringe element hell-bent on destroying the New Deal and everything that came after it. Yet, some “progressives” will trash Democrats mercilessly, and some will actually proclaim that “both parties are the same.”
What do right wing Republicans have to do to make you see there is no choice any longer? How much more unequal does income have to be before you figure out that the issue is not whether or not Democrats are “willing to fight Wall Street and big corps,” but that the current incarnation of the GOP has been handing over the damn Treasury to them.
One reason things in this country seem to have gotten worse is because the Republican Party has gotten bolder. And they've largely become bolder because our side seems more than willing to help them win most of the time. Electoral politics isn't really complicated. The candidates are chosen by voters. And the politician who gets the most votes will usually be slightly to the left or right of the center, if we're doing our jobs as activists. Democrats represent a wide variety of people of every race, ethnicity, creed, sexual orientation and economic background, while Republicans don’t care about anyone. Period. Does anyone need any more information than that to make a decision?
In 2010, voters were given two choices by far too many liberals; a "spineless" Democrat (as the progressives kept calling them) or a right wing idiot Republican. They stayed home in droves. And why not? Why would anyone assume that, when such voters hear such denigration of Democrats, they would differentiate between Blanche Lincoln or Ben Nelson and Russ Feingold or Alan Grayson? Don’t you even wonder why Grayson and Feingold lost last year? Has it even occurred “emo progs” that all of these “low-information voters” heard the simple-minded message that “Democrats are spineless” and either voted Republican or stayed away from the polls as a result?
We have major problems in our system of government, and they can all be cured within the next 3-4 election cycles by electing Democrats. Sure, many of those Democrats will be conservative-leaning. But here’s the thing. In the 1950s and 1960s, this country grew like crazy, and we made major strides in the areas of civil rights and the environment, even though a large portion of the Democratic Party was made up of Dixiecrats like Strom Thurmond and Jesse Helms. Yet now, we suddenly can’t tolerate a small portion of the Democratic Party being as conservative as Ben Nelson and Jon Tester? When did progressives become such big wimps?
Voters have two choices every November, and these days, the choice is between competence and disaster. When you trash “the Democrats” mercilessly, the Republicans gain. And if you don’t think we lose when Republicans gain, then you haven’t been paying attention. And we cannot allow 2014 to become just like 2010. We really can't afford it.