Thursday, November 17, 2016

Time to work for what you actually believe in

As I mention in comments to the post below, we may be nearing the end of the Sixth Party System in the U.S. The mathematics of how U.S. elections are set up create a two-party stable system, but those parties can be replaced. The same factors that make a third party challenge unviable unforgivingly destroy a second party that falls.

People have been talking about the supposed crash of the GOP for a while, but in a two-party system that is so evenly balanced, it doesn't seem very likely that one could fall and the other remain steady. Really both parties are in horrible shape, and either one of them could go, or both -- transmuted into something else with the same name or outright replaced. This raises the specter of fascism, but it's also the only chance for a sea change in left politics that I've seen in my lifetime.

What are the Democrats preparing to do? They've lost so much power that the GOP is approaching Constitutional Convention levels of possible control. At this critical moment the most visible and outspoken leader, Sanders, has gone back to the Senate as an independent -- he's no longer in the Democratic Party -- internal party politics seems to have shifted to what I think is an inconsequential contest between Keith Ellison and Howard Dean for DNC chair, and David Brock is talking about raising money from billionaires to fight Trump. Yes, the same Brock who spent millions on his organization Correct the Record to scold Sanders supporters on Twitter. Otherwise, the Democratic Party is exhausted, not even capable of thinking about what went wrong.

So at this point people on the left who are interested in electoral politics have pretty much two basic choices. They can dig in to defend the Democrats as the Democratic leadership doesn't defend them, and helplessly accept that GOP control over Supreme Court appointments means control over the law for the next couple of decades. Or they can try to change the system. That means either recapture of the Democratic Party, an institution that was already shown in this election to stack the deck against left challengers, or try to go en masse over to a third party and make it the second.

I think that it's the Green Party's time. Some people are talking about traditional socialist parties, but they aren't horizontalist and have no core commitment to ecological issues, the most important issues of our time. The Green Party also has at least minimal political infrastructure in place that no traditional socialist party has.

But really, this is a rare time when the lesser evil has dropped out and it's possible for people to make a real decision, at least for themselves. What do you actually believe in? You no longer need to give that up in favor of something practical, because the lesser evil has failed. When I write "futility is freedom", people think that it's nihilism or it's a joke, and it's at least partially a joke. But it's partially true. People now have the responsibility not of gritting their teeth and doing the responsible thing, but of deciding what they want and working with other people to bring that about, even if the chances of success are no better than they ever actually were.

Edited to add: the Intercept. I'm not impressed by the GOP's willingness to examine its errors: they ended up winning for following none of their own recommendations. Really the two parties are flailing around within a dysfunctional system.

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