Why Third Parties Can’t Solve What You Think They Can
Earlier today, Jason spoke mighty, mighty truth in just two sentences with this post on militarization at home. I don’t like to use the word “chilling” in my posts much (unless it’s describing myself with a martini on a Friday night) because in the blogging world “chilling” is over-used, too often in overly hyperbolic ways. But it fits with Jason’s post: that stuff is really is chilling.
That being said, I want to push back slightly on something he said in his threads:
I should add to this post: I look at episodes like this one, and I wonder how anyone can support either of the two major political parties. This is the system that mainstream political thinking, and mainstream political compromise, has produced. This is what youstand for, my mainstream friends: This is your war on drugs.
While I think Jason is right to call out mainstream America, his insinuation that a change of our current two-party system is the first step in correcting this travesty misses the mark. And perhaps unsurprisingly, much of the subsequent discuss on the merits of third parties, European systems, etc., missed that mark as well.
Permit me to explain how I see this…
No one here needs reminding that I’m not a particularly big fan of either party, or that I find them corrupt, self-serving, and operating largely on the mission of accumulating and retaining power for the sake of that power. Nonetheless, I think deducing that this is a sin that springs directly from the GOP or the DNC is a fallacy; moreover, I think it’s a dodge.
Regular readers will know that in liberal democracies such as the US, I often refer to the people as the country’s sovereign and the elected officials as its regents. This truth is obvious on its face, but it’s a truth that’s oft forgotten. Both sides tend to look at the system in terms of some conspiracy that has stripped the people of power — the left often pointing to those with money, the right to those who man the mainstream media — but these, too, are dodges. We could set quick wheels in motion to limit campaign contributions, or have actual and serious consequences for public corruption, or almost anything else, really. Such is the nature of our malleable Constitution. That we choose not to is always — always — on us.
Now, this does not make our Regents any less corrupt or (in too many cases) any less despicable. But it does mean that the source of the problem isn’t with the two-party system; it’s with us. The reason that third parties in America are relatively free from corruption isn’t because they aren’t Rs or Ds; it’s because they have nothing those who would corrupt them particularly want.
If you could wave a magic wand and have 33% of the country be registered card-carrying Libertarians — or Green Partiers, or Constitution Partiers — when they awoke tomorrow, then by lunch time the majority of the leaders of those parties would be taking meetings with the same lobbying interests that meet with the Rs and Ds, and would be brokering the same kinds of influence-for-pay deals. And those few leaders who didn’t would see their own influence wane as they were pushed to the sidelines. And that 33% of this country’s sovereign who magically woke up as party members would support that corruption just as strenuously as they do now when it occurs with Elephants and Donkeys.
Armored tanks (or whatever the hell you want to call them) being given to local law enforcement to keep down the disenfranchised under the guise of a “War on Drugs” isn’t something that happens because of the inherent DNA of either the GOP of the DNC. It’s something that happens because we collectively want it to happen. The regents of this nation might have been the one who were selling the lies of Super-Predators, Flash Mobs, and Wilding Youths that made us crave such militaristic protection, but is we sovereign who were ready and willing buyers absent the slightest of proof.
If we do not look to become better sovereigns, it doesn’t really matter whether there are two parties, or three, or even four — and it doesn’t matter whether those new parties are built on the buzzwords of “smaller government,” “the will of the people,” or anything else. We’ll still fear our “urban” brothers and sisters, and those parties will offer to sell that fear back to us, over and over, in exchange for power and capital.
And because that’s all a little heavy on a surprisingly and exquisitely sunny Portland day, and because I found this when looking for the Kodos and Kang video up top, I leave you with this video on account of it being Super Space Awesome: