Failed Two-Party Systems

In 1997 when the neo-Thatcherite Blairites disenfranchised  millions of Labour voters, I concluded that ten years later those millions would be looking  for a new political home that reflected their values  AND the need for just and sustainable 21st Century societies.  The result was the Gaian Democracies book . The book is still some years ahead of its time, but as the pitiful  Brown-Cameron Punch and Judy show illustrates, it’s time is coming closer every day.

Now, thanks to Obama, that same penny about “the failed two-party system’ has dropped  with an increasingly angry clanging noise in the USA as shown by these quotes from an excellent article by Anthony Wade.

until we truly grasp that the cancer eating this country away is the failed two-party system itself, we will continue to watch the two sides of the same coin pretending that they care about us when all they really care about is the status quo

They are strictly in the business of polarizing you against your neighbor. They want us arguing over scraps while they continue to consolidate their power and wealth. We are on the Hindenburg and they have us fighting over the window seat.

But realize America that … you will still see wars for no reason and with no end. You will still see no movement on the reforming of elections or expansion beyond two parties. You will see little about media consolidation. You will see nothing done to hold to account those who may have broken the law in the previous administration. That is because they both answer to the same masters. They are both part of the same machine. That machine is fed by the blood of our children, the ignorance of our politics, and our refusal to accept the possibility that maybe we are being lied to by both sides. It is maintained by our basest emotions, the desire to blame someone else for our problems, and confusion between patriotism and narcissism. It will only be defeated by a recommitment to the truth even when it grates against how we feel, a better appreciation of all humanity, and the collective discovery that there can be more than two strains of coherent political thought.

As yet, Mr.Wade and the thousands of others who are thinking and writing along the same lines, have yet to move from anger and dismay to a serious attempt to tackle collectively the profound intellectual and systemic questions that underlie the deepening US tragedy.

For the questions facing progressives in the USA are as profound as they can get as  the British political scientist, Rob Ford, explains

if health care fails, or doesn’t deliver what Americans expect it to, disappointed Americans shouldn’t blame Obama, or the Republicans, or the health care lobby, or Fox News. They should blame Washington, Jefferson, Adams and the rest of the Founding Fathers who decided to privilege small states at the expense of large ones, and enabled the rural right wing electorates of 20 empty states to hold the other 5/6ths of their compatriots to ransom.

Not that an awareness of their Constitutional straitjacket leads necessarily to any significant urge to action as this woefully complacent snippet from the soooo- cool Hendrick Hertzberg in the New Yorker shows.

Thanks to my longstanding obsession with the obsolescence of our eighteenth-century political and electoral hydraulics (such as the separation of powers and the lack of a single government accountable to a national electorate) and this sclerotic system’s sadomasochistic twentieth-century refinements (such as the institutionalization of the filibuster), I am not astonished that Obama has had trouble “getting things done.” Absent only the filibuster—even while leaving untouched all the other monkey wrenches (committee chairs, corrupt campaign money, safe districts, Republicans, etc.)—Obama by now would have signed landmark bills addressing health care, global warming, and financial regulation, and a larger, better-designed stimulus package, too.

To which my response is “Oh Yeah!!! You do mean this President Obama, not some figment of  of your insider’s imaginings”.

I hope this blog is of some help to all those for whom the penny has dropped and rattles infuriatingly in their political consciousness.  The rest of us desperately need the people of the USA  to do the thinking needed to move beyond anger to purposeful 21st century action.

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