Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Options that Matter

IOZ talks about the real electoral fraud.

...Ron Paul is a patsy, or a reliable stooge--the Denny Kuciny of the Republican Right, a convenient sheepdog to herd the slouches and stragglers back into the sheepfold.... They reinforce the loyalty of the more ideological fringes of the parties while also ensuring that many marginal types hear some hint of hope, honor, decency . . . reform within the system. Well Ron Paul might not win, some libertarian somewhere is telling himself, but if he can at least run a campaign . . . You fool; you rube!

If you want to know anything about the diversity of the modern American governmental campaign, you can tell a lot by the fact that you have a bajillion candidates in the primaries and... two, consistently, for the general election.

I know that the system is like totally fucked for ever and ever and it'll never really give us anything, but if I wanted to improve it ever so slightly, I'd introduce the same chaos of the primaries to the general election campaign. Top four candidates at least. Fuck, if the SWP is on my ballot, why aren't they on CNN? Let's make this interesting! Get every fucking crazy in the world out there! I don't want to wait once every millennium for a Ross Perot! I want the floor show in between episodes of mass murder, national theft, and gross corruption to be as entertaining as possible.

But in seriousness, Ralph Nader got three quarters of a million votes in 2008. Bob Barr, running for the "Libertarian" party, got a half million. Those people matter (pardon the melodrama), and odds are they cared a hell of a lot more than most of the people who followed one of the main camps out of a sense of obligation. In all honesty, can anyone say that things would be damaged if we just invited two more white dudes (usually) to the presidential debates? What the fuck is wrong with us that nobody seems to be bothered by this? The two-party system is enshrined by our shitty constitution de facto, but it's never specifically mentioned. Um, right?


  1. This is one of those issues that I think 98% of interested potential voters actually agree on. Everybody hates the duopoly. So who benefits from the system as it is? It shows how pathetically irrelevant the electorate actually is. Obama's going to spend a $1,000,000,000 on this race on his campaign alone! If he gets 50,000,000 votes that $20 each. Insanity.

  2. I've been thinking about this a bit lately, because it seems to me that there is a strong possibility of a three-way race next year with Ron Paul and it is not clear to me that he won't win. The existing order, maintained by the party system is primarily an illusion. It persists because people believe it is the only option, in spite of the fact that very few people have any enthusiasm for it at all. Of course it tends to two parties because of efficiency. It is easy for existing power systems to control it, through the purchase and maintenance of elected officials. Third parties don't have to be purchased because they have no chance of winning. If they have some chance of winning, then they aren't a third party. And because of electoral mechanics, they can be safely ignored.

    But it can collapse with little to no warning. Of course, the replacement of the Whigs with the Republicans in the wake of the Kansas-Nebraska Act was but an incidental part of the chain of events that led to the Civil War (Manifest Destiny, slavery, industrialization, the conquer of Mexico, the Compromise of 1850). Was war inevitable? Maybe. (I can think of plausible counterfactuals where it wasn't but that's another matter.) The more important question to ask, I think as anarchists, is does upheaval in the party system affect the existing order? Is there a possibility for the devolution of power in this transition period?

    Well the last time it happened there was a Civil War and ten-year occupation which allowed the new system to stabilize. The slave system was replaced by a brutal apartheid Jim Crow regime. The centralization in banking and industry that took place during the war led to the robber baron era which led to directly into the combination of trusts that culminated in the modern corporate era, Federal Reserve Act of 1913, WW1, and then later the Depression, WW2 and the modern military-industrial era.

    There's no reason for the existing order and current party system to persist into infinity. It is obviously unsustainable. It seems very close to collapse though one could have legitimately said that 30 years ago, and it has kept on. Maybe it will last another 100 years. Who knows? All it really takes if some mass psychological shift, which can happen over long or short periods of time. Whether or not it could have any positive consequences is another question.

  3. ergo,

    I hope you're right. I agree that the electorate could surprise everyone. What a spectacle a Ron Paul presidency would be. Wonderful. Chance of a military coup, 65%.

  4. Abonilox,

    Heh I agree. Though a military coup would be awkward to pull off given his support among rank-and-file troops. I hope he gets the Republican nomination just for the spectacle of seeing Cheney and Krauthammer 40k and associates line up behind either Obama or some third party jingo.

  5. I don't see Ron Paul getting the GOP nomination, although I took ergo's 1st comment above to mean he felt that Paul was likely to bolt the GOP after their convention and run on his own. The money still matters, and I imagine Paul would be way outspent by the Ds and the Rs.(I agree with IOZ re Paul and Kucinich, and linked to this post the other day too.)

    As far as improving the system slightly goes, I dimly recall that in the early 19th century the parties sometimes ran more than one candidate per party in the general election, so arguably we've de-volved a bit, at least regarding that particular item.

    As you said, the 2 party system is an indirect legacy of the Constitution. (I assume you mean per the single member district system. 2 or 3 years ago I posted a poll on Facebook suggesting we abolish the US Senate; my thinking was we could have a single house with members representing a mix of single district and at large constituencies, and the people who responded were lopsidedly against it, and some left comments saying I was crazy.)

  6. Yeah, I used to think that about abolishing the Senate, though I don't think making laws easier to pass is a good idea since making laws is generally the problem. Nevertheless, when the ruling class wants something passed, it gets passed so it probably wouldn't matter. A bigger problem is the scale of the United States I think.

    I don't think Paul and Kucinich are exactly equivalent; Paul to his credit didn't go on the floor of the RNC in 2008 and tell everyone to rally around the party like Kucinich did. Instead he endorsed a general third party vote of Nader/McKinney/Barr/Baldwin, then later when Barr did something to piss him off he endorsed Baldwin. Now it's true that this was politically expedient for him--he would have alienated his core supporters and made no difference at all with the Republican base--so it's not like he deserves a lot of praise for it. But he also doesn't deserve the criticism that Kucinich should get for embarrassing himself like that.

  7. ergo, we used to have proportional representation in a lot of districts; this was abolished and replaced with first-past-the-post vote counting methods during the early 20th century to counter two Big Bads: communism and Negroes.