As we all know, the US is having financial problems, in spite of the inspired leadership of President Obama. In spite of his brilliant hiring selections (Geithner, Paulson, Summers; let's not forget the great success of the healthcare legislation in controlling those costs, too! Damn those Republicans! Damn them, straight to hell!), the US economy is still limping along, and the national debt has exploded. Greece has also had similar problems, and in true Shock Doctrine fashion, has turned to uber-capitalist solutions to help them through their tough times. The Greeks have leased the port of Piraeus to the Chinese for 35 years. This has led to some problems for Greek laborers, such as not being given the opportunity to pee, properly. But hey! Nobody forced the Greeks to get scammed by Goldman Sachs, or to lease Piraeus without labor law restrictions. They did it to themselves, don't ya know! If they rename the port Pee-raeus, they'll should be able to laugh through the next 35 years, forgetting labor conditions before the port was leased off.
Now, to understand the sort of Republicans that are being sought, and why, a little background is desirable. A Full Court Press strategy for shifting the Democratic Party leftwards, and hopefully sparking a movement that would persist beyond merely the next election cycle, was first enunciated by jeffroby, at OpenLeft, at the end of 2009. See for a Full Court Press (FCP). This diary was front paged, but only for a short while. For the scandalous details of it's removal from the front page of OpenLeft, see
Full Court Press -- what the OpenLeft brouhaha was about.
Briefly: The Full Court Press looked to run up to 435 progressive candidates in all House Democratic primaries. Exceptions would occur if there was already a candidate who embraced the limited, but progressive FCP platform. In this case, fine, then there was no need to run an FCP candidate in that race. Otherwise, the FCP candidate would run, and maintain a focus on debates. FCP candidates could run minimalist campaigns. No need to raise massive amounts of money, thus lowering the inhibitions against getting large numbers of candidates to enlist in the effort. No need to keep torturing yourself with the question, "How do I win?" You're going to lose, so enjoy the journey! Your real goals is education, organization, and challenging the status quo. The strategy amounted to a "mass wave", "death of a thousand cuts" effort.
FCP has become moribund, due to lack of support, however I have written about it at firedoglake, recently, in the hopes of inspiring it's revival.
This diary is to suggest a different kind of Full Court Press - one that targets Republican primaries. The goals here are 1) to drive wedges between Republican leadership and the Republican rank-and-file and 2) to try and get better Republicans elected, by forcing the debates in the direction of issues where the Republican leadership is way out of line with the Republican base. A Republican FCP would adopt mainstream Republican positions (so, be prepared to hold your nose), but with notable exceptions. I have recommended: 1) not cutting Social Security 2) not cutting Medicare and 3) not selling off of public assets, such as streets, ports, and parks, to private entities.
The 'Republicans' would be progressives, not dyed-in-the-wool Republicans. Especially for progressives who live in strongly Republican or conservative districts, nothing they say or do is going to make much difference on the Democratic side of things, anyway. Consequently, in such uber-red districts, an optimal political strategy to pursue is to boldly go forth where no progressives have gone, before! Yes, take a trek onto the Republican side of politics!
Although I've long supported jeffroby's FCP, this R-version of it occurred to me only recently, due to a comment in a diary of mine called, The Jesus Christ of Political Game Theory on the Stupidity of Lesser Evilist Voting
I was asked,
What do you propose for voters like me who live on a red district in a red state? For 8 years (2002-2010) we had a blue dog Dem. but before that we had a crazy Christian right guy (who would still be the Representative if he had not left to run for Governor) and now we have a Teabagger.
The blue dog drove me crazy and I often swore I would never vote for him again, but of course, I had to - the greater evil was so much greater. I asked my state senator to run against the blue dog, but he declined. And he would also have been a blue dog if he had run and been elected, just a slightly greener hue of blue. A progressive would carry my town of about 500 voters, but would be hard pressed to get 500 more votes in this district.
Things might not be perfect now, but if the Republicans win the WH and Senate, the US will be a perfect hell.
You may know only progressives and think that we are in the majority, but I assure you that in the real world, we are not.
My answers were as follows:
I think citizens should form voting blocs, and the voting strategies pursued by those voting blocs should be fine tuned by political game theorists, though always subject to approval of the vote bloc members.
The very idea of mutually exclusive left vs. right, and blue vs. red, obscures many areas of issue-based convergence amongst the citizenry, and thus disempowers them. So, it's important to look for the complexity in your neighbors, which would reveal far more possibilities for cooperation than if they really were mostly Rush Limbaugh clones. It's also important to drive wedges between the Republican base and the corrupted Republican party leadership (similarly with the Democrats).
I don't want to dig up more references, but if you google at openleft.com, firedoglake.com, and docudharma.com, for discussions between myself and Nancy Bordier, as well as between myself and jeffroby, you will see that there are possibilities beyond what you're used to thinking of.
I've gone further, and actually written a booklet on bringing about a democratic renaissance. However, I'm not distributing that, widely, though you can glean some of what's in there by reading my bloggerly writings.
As far as taking over the Democratic Party, I recommend the "Angry Left" series at firedoglake by the blogger "Rayne". Finally, as to the games played by the legacy parties - even to the extent of throwing real reform candidates under the bus, so that party hacks can retain their power - you can read John Emerson's diaries at openleft, especially where he discusses the book Indispensable Enemies: The Politics of Misrule in America. Says Emerson:Indispensable Enemies is a wild ride, and very few will want to stay on all the way to the end. Karp has no respect for either of the major parties, and his low opinion extends to such Democratic heroes as Woodrow Wilson, FDR, JFK, LBJ, and even McGovern. He was politically unaffiliated, but identified with the Progressive and Populist traditions, and nowadays he seems to be admired mostly by paleocons and right-libertarians. But his insights into the two-party system can help dissidents of any stripe understand what's wrong with our political process, and more specifically, what's wrong with the Democratic Party.
The basic idea of the book is that when you're trying to understand American politics, you don't want to start with the candidates and elected officials, or with the voters and public opinion, or even with the lobbyists or with the media, but with the political parties. Karp overstates his case considerably, but there are few who could read his book without learning something from it.
The parties and the pros work for themselves first, last and always, and a party's ruling group would always rather maintain control of a losing party than win and lose control. Parties do not depend on elected officials for funding. Quite the opposite: elected officials who don't have their own organizations and who can't self-finance are pretty much dependent on the party. (This is especially true of low-seniority members of the House, who are little more than but peons.) The party gets its funding from donors, and donors give money as often to prevent action asthey do to get action: sometimes all they want is nothing.
By and large party leaders do not want reform, progress, or change, since anything new makes their job harder and threatens to bring in new and competing leaders. The two party oligarchies support one another against the dissident forces in either party, and often their disputes are choreographed dog-and-pony shows leading, like pro wrestling, to foreordained conclusions -- as we have seen with free trade, tax reduction, and deregulation, often the two parties are in agreement on the issues.
Let me be a little more specific. Well, first I'll continue to be general. "Lesser Evilism" implies slightly or somewhat lesser evilism. If there really is a huge gulf between a Republican front-runner and your friendly, neighborhood Blue Dog, go ahead and vote for the Blue Dog. (Well, there could be other considerations, such as supporting a rising 3rd party, but I'll ignore that, for the purposes of communicating the basic idea.)
As to specifics: The American healthcare system is parasitic, and sapping the life blood out of the economy. Furthermore, most of your Republican neighbors are in favor of lower costs (e.g., via a public option), and most of your Republican neighbors don't want to do away with Medicare. So, if you're going to be stuck with a Republican representative, shouldn't he at least be held to healthcare policies that have wide support in your community?
IOW, you need to help get your Republican neighbors to eschew lesser evilism, also, which means that you have a task to educate them, and also to drive a wedge between them and the top of the Republican hierarchy, which is plutocratic, as is the situation with the Democrats. You should be eager to get your Republican neighbors to run better Republicans for office.
I'm not arguing that citizens JUST eschew lesser evilism. Rather, I'm arguing that that is a baby step which should be supplemented by a major politicization of the American public. However, if Americans can't even break out of the relatively minor straightjacket of lesser evilism, it becomes that much more doubtful that they'd seriously work for the radical reform of the Dem and Repub Parties, and/or their abandonment.
As with the Democratic Party FCP, you're not going to win your Republican primary. So, you may as well enjoy it! One way to do that is by exploiting the multiple comedic possibilities that you, a progressive, can appreciate running as a Republican.
Selling off the liberal states of NY and CA, and using the proceeds to pay down the national debt, is about the funniest twist that I can think of. Well, what about you, gentle reader? What are your suggestions?