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Crossposted from American Liberalism Project
and My Left Wing


I have SHAMELESSLY co-opted, for my own nefarious ends, the following post, written by gottlieb at My Left Wing in the discussion under Armando's diary, A Spine is Not Enough:

To Dem or not to Dem is not the question. The reality is we have a one and a half party system. We're a skip, hop and jump away from the USSA.

There is no real place for leftists in the political spectrum because Capitalism is sacrosanct. And a real leftist is a socialist at heart.

I believe Energy and Transportation should be nationalized for a start.

Is there anyplace in the Democratic Party for my point of view?

gottlieb continues:

Fuck no.

But that doesn't mean I don't support the Democratic Party. Because the alternative is to not participate.

So yeah, we're fucked because the left represents the most dangerous threat to the status quo. That's why we're first to be blamed for anything that goes wrong by the capitulating cowards and criminal co-conspirators of mainstream democratory (sic).

It's not us that should fit into any tent, but the likes of Ben Nelson and Max Baucus who should get their asses kicked out.

So, yeah, fuck the Democrats. But don't abandon them.

gottlieb NAILS it. There is no Liberal Party. There is no Party of the Left. In this godforsaken boondoggle of a two party system with which we're hobbled, the Democrats are all I've got.

I have buried the lead.

"I have not abandoned the Democrats - they abandoned ME." How many times have you heard that? And, tempted though one might be to claim they were never with me to begin with, that'd be ignorant at best and disingenuous at worst. Of COURSE they were "with" me - hell, the New Deal proves that. The split with the Strom Thurmond wing of the Democratic Party proves that.

But of course, that isn't the Democratic Party we have today. Certainly, anyone with leftist, liberal or, god forbid, socialist leanings will almost always vote for the Democrat - the pragmatic do, anyway. Because it's a rigged goddamned game, ain't it? Many his faults may be, but dumb and dishonest ain't one of `em - Ralph Nader told the truth about this political system back in 2000. What's more, before his candidacy contributed to the catastrophic results of that Presidential "Election," most of us were quick to acknowledge the basic facts he presented.

But - and I've been here before, folks, I have - the choice came down to pragmatism and idealism. Living in the world that IS, rather than the one that OUGHT to be. And in the world that IS... at the level of national politics, you gots two alternatives, the Evil and the Lesser of Two Evils (and that goes for anyone, regardless of ideology. You can bet there are some right wing radicals out there who simply FUME a the mealy-mouthed capitulation of the Republican Party, as they are sure to see it).

Pragmatism Versus Idealism. Pragmatically, there is no real choice, just one of two alternatives. No, not three -- not voting is, in my estimation, tantamount to voting for an incumbent. If you don't feel strongly enough about the way things are enough to get your ass to a voting booth, them obviously you're WILLING to accept the status quo - if only so you can continue to bitch about it.

I'd explain the idealist's rationale for voting third party, but it will have to be done by someone else, for I cannot fathom it. Because in the REAL WORLD, remember, the World as it IS... voting for a third party is almost EXACTLY the same, in the end, as not voting at all. A nonvoter's "vote" goes to the incumbent - and the vote of the  "protest voter" - at least, nationally speaking - goes to the incumbent, as well.

The dilemma of the Idealistic Pragmatist becomes thus: THEY know we have to vote for them, these Democrats with virtually no affinity for the LIBERAL, LEFT point of view. We are... fucked. (I'm speaking STRICTLY of the left wing, the liberalest of liberal - NOT the centrists of the Democratic party.)

What to do, what to do? Trapped like a rat, I am. I want to affect change, far more change than the Democratic Party as it now exists is willing to accept. I am... on the fringe, it would seem. So do I take my medicine, meekly accept whatever crumbs these people are willing to toss me from the Grown-Up Table? Is it even possible for someone with deep, powerful leanings toward the socialist end of the political spectrum, to EVER reconcile herself to placid acceptance of The Way It Is?

That was a rhetorical question; of COURSE it's not possible. Not placid acceptance. Not even disgusted acceptance. In fact, I think "acceptance" is off the table, regardless of the philosophers' admonition that acceptance is the only way to serenity, that it is possible to do battle AND be in a state of acceptance.

Of course, if it's serenity you're after, political activism and awareness are the wrong milieu. Best check out entirely, then, get along with you. BUT... therein lies MY dilemma, anyway: I cannot rest, or reach serenity, knowing how many people in the world suffer needlessly due to circumstances against which I have it in my power to at least make an EFFORT to change. I've tried turning off the world and living in my bubble; even blind drunk of every waking moment, I couldn't turn it off.

I digress, as is my wont.

It seems to me, after several days of infighting amongst Democrats and liberals and the whole schemer on the left, that what we all of us, across the entire political spectrum, really face here is a really intense growing pain. The only true solution to any of this is a multiparty political system. A viable one that is - and of course, the only way to get there is to reform the way elections are run in this country. Instant Runoff Voting is a seemingly simple solution, though many have their arguments with that particular one; regardless of the vagaries of different methods, the fact is, no third, fourth, fifth party in this country will EVER be more than a marginal spoiler at the national level until the way we vote changes.

(And I'm not even giving more than this mention to the corruption - I'm just talking about the system, now.)

The only people truly well-served by the current two party system are those already firmly entrenched in that system - the ones with the power and the money and the voices. There is simply NO reason THEY should wish to change the system, therefore - not unless they are altruistic and actual servants of the people they CLAIM to serve. And there are damned few of them, unfortunately. And of that few, even fewer are willing to torpedo their own seats of power in service of the greater good, if only because they GENUINELY believe that they can do more god in power than out, and being out of power is one of the pitfalls of standing up for principle. Losing an election because you stood for your principles seems counterproductive to them, and we can see their point, I think.

So where do we stand, those of us who believe the Democratic Party is not only broken, but DESIGNED, ultimately, to be a party that furthers an agenda we on the leftier side of the left find tepid and incomplete at best?

Having no other system within which to work, we chose, again and again, to support Democrats and vote for Democrats -sending the grudgingly honest message that yes, we feel ill-served by the Democrats, but are not so blindly ideological as to be willing to bring about a political, economic and social Armageddon so we can be around to pick up the pieces and rebuild the world in the image of our Utopia. Hell, we know what happened with the Communists in Germany. Well, some of us know. Or think we know. We can argue about that later.

Fact is, it's a damned good thing most liberal leftists are so goddamned intelligent, because it's going to take a two-pronged approach over the long term to affect the change we want. We're going to have to be able to simultaneously work to elect Democrats (because the only other alternative is so noxious as to be anathema to anyone with a liberal leaning) -- AND we're going to HAVE to commit ourselves to finding a way to reform the damned political system under which we trudge, Sisyphus to the teeth.

And we're going to have to stop it with the Hatfield and McCoy routine, eventually. If the "centrists" and the "leftists" of the Democratic Party are EVER to achieve anything like harmonious coexistence, they're going to have to agree on BOTH prongs of this movement: elect Democrats while we have no other tolerable options, AND work to make this system accommodate at least three different political parties: left, right AND centre.


Incidentally, doesn't it strike anyone as one of the Democratic Party's MAJOR failings that it is, ostensibly, the Big Tent Party - holding not only ALL of the left but much of the centre... and yet it languishes, virtually ineffectual and powerless, in obeisance to the right wing? It strikes me as that, oftentimes... but then I remember that, of course, people with right wing leanings will naturally outnumber people with centrist and left wing leanings because, at bottom, the right wing people of the world are the Lowest fucking Common Denominator.

Awe, jeez - and I was doing so WELL.

Originally posted to My Left Wing on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:24 PM PST.


What's a liberal to do?

4%5 votes
4%6 votes
31%39 votes
36%45 votes
23%29 votes

| 124 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  I'll be goddamned if I didn't (4.00)
    ... finally figure out precisely where I stand.

    •  You've got it wrong. (4.00)
      The United States will NEVER be a three party state.  But, the two parties will INEVITABLY continue to change and evolve.  As you rightly point out, today's Democratic Party is not the Democratic Party that Strom Thurmond once joined, nor is it the Democrat-Republican Party founded by Thomas Jefferson.  Just as today's Republican Party is not the Republican Party of Lincoln or Eisenhower.

      What you fail to grasp is that the reason that political parties evolve is because there is really no such thing as a political party in America.  

      The Democratic Party is an illusion.

      All there is people.  Most importantly people who are politicians.  If you want to transform the Party, all you have to do is transform the people.  Or, more accurately, support those who you think are the right people.

      Ranting and raving won't accomplish that.  Action might.  Me, I cut my political teeth working for Congressman Peter DeFazio in Oregon.  He's my kind of Democrat, even if we don't always agree.  I'm sure we all have worked for people running for office at one time or another who inspired us.  If you can't find those people, perhaps you should become one.

      But, again, nothing will be accomplished by wishing for a third party that is structurally impossible.  Channel your energies productively.  Because, ultimately, if all you do is scream and rage, the only thing you accomplish is to lose your voice.

      •  Did I rant or rave here? (none)
        It'd be nice if you read the essay you HAVE, rather than the one you WANT.
        •  You didn't scream in this diary. (none)
          But I can't really ignore what's come before, especially when THIS diary references the turmoil of the past few days.

          I think the points in my original post are valid.  A third party will only weaken the left/liberals (aren't Perot and Nader abject lesson enough?) and the more productive route is to work to transform the Democratic Party by transforming the people who are the face of the Democratic Party (either by evolving their position ala Murtha or by finding new faces who you support more).

      •  you sir have balls (none)
        (or steel ovaries) for saying MSOC is wrong.

        for that i'd give ya 4.

        however, i think you misread MSOC.  she's actually being pretty pragmatic.

        for the short-term:  support the Dems now to improve the party & keep the GOP at bay.

        in the long-term, work to fix the system as a whole.

        a 3rd party IS sturctural impossible today (as the diary stated).

        SO you change the structure.

        sorry.  gotta take that 4 back.  otherwise, decent sentiments.

        •  A viable third party is structurally impossible (none)
          because we do not have a parlimentary system.  Based on our history, a third party might replace one of the current parties in the two party limelight, but its not going to be a stable or powerful fixture as long as it remains a third party.  To the contrary, it will likely just strengthen the opposite pole.
        •  change the structure or the people? (4.00)
          Because unless I'm blinded by something, most people arent as liberal as MSOC. Heck, most people arent as liberal as me, and I know I'm not as liberal as MSOC or a decent chunk of the posters here or on DU the two places I frequent the most.

          So the implied argument is that the system is rigged against liberals but I dont see it. Liberals make up maybe a fifth of this society at present, and a good chunk of people who call themselves liberals in America still believe in basic capitalism with some controls.

          I guess I'm long windedly saying our version of your average liberal is still probably more conservative than liberals in other nations.

          Soooo...seems to me a third party doesnt do much for you in such an environment because to use an economic term, the market just isnt there for it in any size that would engender wholesale or even minor changes in the body politic or in long term policy.

          Seems to me, either extreme would be more effective working within either party, withholding or granting needed support depending upon how much the party needed their support, in the Democratic Party's case, it would be far-left liberals flexing their fundraising and GOTV muscles, which is what I believe we have in fact seen with moveon, KOS, DU and the great things they have all accomplished in the last few years in those areas.

          I guess this is a long long way of saying, working from within seems just plain the only way to go in the current environment.

          •  well thought out post (none)
            & very economical.  you definitely are a capitalist (which i am also).

            in that vein, i do believe that competition makes a systems better.  however the danger with 2 competitors is that you rely on one relationship only to sustain your model.

            if that single relationship is moderately or severely unbalanced, then you don't have a redundancy to take it's place.

            that's the case of the current political environment.  

            If there were more balance, say a third or forth party, then we'd have that party combined with the Dem party to keep the Repubs in check.

            of course the system can break in that model as well, but give that you have multiple relationships, you have an inherent Checks & Balances system.

            which would explain why we have THREE branches of government & not 2.  

            you're counting on at least ONE of those branches reigning in power.

            in the current corporate & political system, the 3rd party just doesn't the strength & infrastructure to grow.

            so you build the party that you want despite its flaws.

            however, thinking out loud, there really is no reason why Republics can't have multiple parties.  SOMETHING is preventing a real 3rd party.

            HAA!  how's that for long-winded!

            •  I think though (none)
              that if we were to have parties split off, what we would see is:

              1. Far left
              2. left of center
              3. right of center
              4. far right
              5. libertarians

              5 would be a small group (no offense to libertarians but I find most of their ideas fine in principle but absolutely unworkable in practice), and you'd have 1 and 2 working against 3 and 4 with each pair allying up most of the time.

              Which would lead me to ask that is different from the current two party system how? :)

              I think we are so polarized into a dual mindset (libertarian and puritan) in this country and that dual mindset goes all the way back to the founding in some ways. We want individual rights but we also want all individuals to act a certain way on most things. (Of course by we I am talking about most Americans, not those on here).

              It's a difficult thing to get past.

      •  And don't try (none)
        to be a three party state. Just look at Canada! While it is nice to have more choices, we find ourselves being governed by a party that only got 1/3 of the vote. The other three parties are left and further left, and split the remaining 2/3. So the 2/3s of the population are on the losing side.....
        •  But your 1/3+ plurality (none)
          will need plenty of compromise to bring home an agenda, and this agenda will be more inclusive of the wishes of the citizens on an issue by issue basis.

          The complexity of your political dicourse will elevate the people's capacity to self-govern, while our manifestation of the "two party" system--where each party, armed with the science of the image makers, stands only as far to their own side of the median as will provide a modicum of definition--resolves into a goose step where only the regimental flag is needed to line up the troops.

          where are the artists?
          where are the poets?

          by le sequoit on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:26:48 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  IRV solves that (none)
      •  I totally sort of disagree (none)
        Maybe it's my background - though that would, ironically, be making my point - but I think to talk about "people" without talking about their context is not meaningless, but misses a huge part of the picture.

        Certainly, there are great men and women who, in spite of impeding forces, manage to stay true to their principles and their ideals. But even in these exceptional cases, people are in some part a function of their contexts. If you have a two party system, then a politician elected to office will be affected by this system. Some more than others, surely. But imagine the same people in a different context, purely hypothetically, of course - a pluralistic system with several parties in a parliamentary democracy. Where would people end up: would Howard Dean or Nancy Pelosi be in the same party as Joe Lieberman or John Kerry? Would Hagel and Snowe and Brownback and Burns be in the same party? And if they weren't, how would their positions evolve, what would their commitments and constraints be?

        That's a question of parties and the political system - what about the political machine and its inherent (or so it seems) corruption? You need money to win, you need to have support - how many politicians out there have made no compromises of their principles? How many have made some, but retained their integrity. Some, but not that many.

        So I agree, we should be supporting Democratic candidates with integrity, with liberal principles, with courage and moral conviction. But let's not forget that many of our representatives are only human, and as such they are vulnerable to influence from the society and culture they take part in. Fundamentally changing the system is an incredibly difficult undertaking, but even small changes and a systematic level - addressing corruption, taking money out of elections to the extent possible, etc. - can do a lot of good, sometimes more than hitching your cart to a single person, or group of people.

      •  Yeah, Maryscott... (4.00)
        ...quit that ranting and raving stuff. It's not like things ever actually change or anything like that. We live in a totally static, predictable universe, where everything is known. I mean, be reasonable - give up your hopes and dreams now for your health and mine.

        Same. Two. Parties. Forevah.
      •  Hell (none)
        Today's Republican Party isn't even Reagan's party.

        George W. Bush is dog shit on the shoe of America.

        by Sharon Jumper on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:40:14 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  You're right. (none)
          Which tells you how easy it is to transform a party.

          The Goldwater conservatives did it, although they experienced a set-back when Nixon ascended and again when Ronald Reagan lost to Ford.

          And then the fundamentalists did it.

          And Clinton too.

          A party can be changed by a comprehensive movement encompassing the media and academics (like that of the Goldwater conservatives) or a grass roots upsurge (like the fundamentalists) or even by a powerful personality (Thurmond, Reagan and Clinton).  Changing a party is easy.

      •  filters (none)
        there are filters in the system, it's ludicrous to claim that all you have to do is work for a candidate... for one, I want to make candidates DO PARTICULAR THINGS... not just choose "who they are" do you see the difference?
    •  lucky you (none)
      i'm still figuring it out sometimes, MSOC.  but you (ok, really gottib, ya plagarist!) got it right.

      You're not making a choice between Republicans & Democrats.  

      You're making a choice to STOP the crimes being committed by the GOP & to stand aside & let the crime be committed.

      I know that sucks but that's what we (as a country - not individuals) get for not being vigilent & for allowing our government & country to be over-run by a bunch of thugs.

      The Democratic Party is not the party of ideals today.  It's just the ONLY Party that can stop the degradation (destruction?) of ALL that America stands for.

      That fact has made it easier for me to support it - but that doesn't mean I'm not gonna change it from the inside.

      like some...parasitic worm...yeaaah.  that gets into their ears & devours up all that gray matter.


    •  Your binary philosophy has lead to a binary (none)
      decision making process. And since it's so easy to fall into that Manichean simplification of right vs. wrong, good vs. bad, we have a binary party system that isn't satisfying you. And you're buying into it and perpetuating it by simplifying things as left vs. right.

      In reality, there are a million issues each of which has its own spectrum. Most of us care about only a handful of these; you're having problems because you care about a lot of them.

      For most average bears, the binary simplicity suits their single-issue (or few-issue) mindset, and they simply have to align themselves and concomitantly buy the rest of the party line wholesale. The party teaches them what to think; they choose channels on their TV accordingly, and it self-reinforces and polarizes.

      While this may seem the root of all evil to you, it actually succeeds in getting people more involved in the political process than they otherwise would be. As sheep, for sure, but at least as sheep that show up on election day. The only question is who has a bigger flock, and that usually hinges on who has dealt themselves a better hand of single issues. Or a hand with less jokers.

      Meanwhile, "real business" gets done out of the sight of even us political junkies here. Most of it is done deep in the bureaucracy; the White House might pay attention to only a fraction of it.

      I would be thrilled to get a more complex voting system (say Condorcet) installed, and perhaps a legislature that had one house with proportional representation, which would allow the binary system to be shattered into more representative groupings. I doubt any group larger than 1 member would represent all the opinions of its constituents, but it might make people believe more in their representation.

      It would, however, be incredibly complex to follow: there's no way TV news could cover such a system. And that would threaten the numb majority.

      So you're left with what we have, and your conclusion...that you should just tug as hard as you can to get the party you're in to better represent your positions on the all anyone has anyway under the circumstances.

      Increasing your pull is your political imperative. You've got a lot more than I do already.

    •  Give it 24 hours (4.00)
      Leiberman is going to do something that really pisses you off and you will be raging mad again ;-)

      But you do present it very succintly today!

    •  Can you amend the poll? (none)
      Because I want to vote "Continue to vote Democratic while reforming the election system, but NOT working to build a third party".

      I think that if there's one thing that all of us big tent Dems and even would-be third partiers agree on, it's that reforming the current election system so that ballots were distributed, marked and counted in a fair and transparent manner à la the British system is our most immediate priority. That alone would go a long way toward moving the whole system a ways to the left.

      And à propos: a real leftist is NOT by definition a socialist. I believe firmly in individual autonomy and collective support and responsibility, but I firmly oppose nationalization of the means of production -- because it leads to ossification, stagnation and corruption.

    •  That's why you support Al Gore... (none)
      A Democrat, and one who will be fundraising for Democrats for 2006. Matter of fact, he is scheduled to fundraise in Florida this March, and I believe Nelson (one on your "Vichy Democrats" list) will be involved. What will you do? Are you going to call him out on it, or would that ruin your chance to be a part of a draft in your aim to straddle both sides of the fence to see which gets you the most attention?
      •  Could you PLEASE just LEAVE me the fuck ALONE? (none)
        I have tried and tried to make peace with you, and you're just not interested.

        So just STOP TALKING TO ME.

        You think I abuse ratingss against you? I don't, but I am willing, here and now, to SWEAR to never again rate another post of yours.

        You disagree with me? That's fine. But PLEASE keep your comments in the general discussion area and STOP making them to me specifically. I am now feeling genuinely HARASSED by you and I am OFFICIALLY asking you to STOP contacting me.


  •  So, whose campaign do you volunteer for? (none)
    I'd be interested to know into whose campaign you will be pouring your energies for the 2006 elections.

    Economic Left/Right: -6.63 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.85 That makes me more Gandhi than Stalin

    by TomDuncombe on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:28:10 PM PST

    •  Hackett. Cegelis. Seeman. (4.00)
      To name a few.
      •  Good; We've got a lost-cause situaion going on (none)
        here in NM-2, unfortunately; but I understand that there is a viable contender for Heather Wilson's seat.

        Economic Left/Right: -6.63 Social Libertarian/Authoritarian: -5.85 That makes me more Gandhi than Stalin

        by TomDuncombe on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:59:38 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Cegelis... (none)
        ...great to see you give the nod to Christine Cegelis.  

        She's a true progressive who has roots firmly planted in her district [IL-6]. The race could be a barometer for the future of the progressive movement in the Dem Party, as Duckworth (as attractive and compelling as she is) has the more powerful backing of the more traditional, centrist Washington Dems. For anyone in Illinois who isn't following this exciting race, check out the most excellent SoapBlox-Chicago for elucidation.

        P.S. Great diary, as always, Maryscott. I can't wait until you decide to run for office, girl. :o)

        Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. -- Margaret Mead

        by ilona on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 08:31:36 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

  •  Read my sig... (4.00)
    To paraphrase Noam Chomsky,

    George Bush wouldn't have been able to do nearly half the things he's done if there actually were an opposition party in the US.

    "The last thing people want is an opposition party vigorously opposing things." - jasonwhat

    by the new yorker on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:28:19 PM PST

    •  Maybe (4.00)
      but the Democratic Party is what it is, and being pissed off that it isn't better won't change it, and taking one's ball and going home definitely won't.

      The Democratic Party is far from perfect. Thousands of diaries on Dkos have pointed that out, and I think we can all say the problem is fairly well identified by this point.

      Which leads to; what do we do about it? And MSOC is right. Voting for a third party or not voting aren't really options in a first-past-the-post system.

      Which means I see two options; accept the party we have now, or work to change it. Or move, I guess. If you're upset at the "lack of an opposition party"...go out and get them to be the opposition party you're looking for.

      Republicans aren't evil. They're just wrong.

      by AnnArborBlue on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:33:53 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Why so defensive? (none)
        I didn't say a word about 'taking my ball and going home'.  Furthermore, getting pissed off is the only way to get things changed.  If I subbed "the war on terror" for "the Democratic Party" in your post, would you still say the same thing?

        ...but the War on Terror is what it is, and being pissed off that it isn't better won't change it...

        That's rubbish.  If something is wrong, you get pissed off, and you make it right.

        This ridiculous hostility whenever someone suggests an alternative to the current state of things in the Democratic party is beginning to seem neurotic.  If someone is upset with the way things are going in the party, please don't sink to a free republican's level of discourse by asking the person to get out of the kitchen if he or she can't take the heat.  

        The world isn't black and white.  Neither is the Democratic party.  Effectively telling me to 'get lost' isn't going to help our cause any more than you going and voting for a Republican in frustration.

        "The last thing people want is an opposition party vigorously opposing things." - jasonwhat

        by the new yorker on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:46:35 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  where did I tell you to get lost? (none)
          I was saying the exact opposite. I was saying that I understand the frustration about the current party, but that 3rd parties and not voting aren't viable solutions. The only viable one is to change the party.

          As for the "taking one's ball" line, it wasn't directed at you as much as at the numerous "I'm done with the Democratic party" comments and diaries that have come since Alito got confirmed.

          Republicans aren't evil. They're just wrong.

          by AnnArborBlue on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:51:09 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Oh... (none)
            In that case, I definitely misread your response.  My apologies.

            I definitely think we have to work to change the party, and not abandon it.  The wheel is already here (if rusted and nearly square) - there's no need to re-invent it.  

            And I see where you're coming from with respect to the "I'm done" entries.  Mostly, I think they're done out of frustration, rather than actual intent.  But it's true - they don't do much for morale, or for inspiring actual change.

            "The last thing people want is an opposition party vigorously opposing things." - jasonwhat

            by the new yorker on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:58:07 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

  •  Third parties (4.00)
    We are about to elect a third-party Senator from Vermont -- replacing an Independent Senator from Vermont. No one is worried that supporting Sanders will be "throwing away" a vote.

    But it is clear -- it is simple arithmetic -- that supporting third party candidates at the Presidential level can really hurt liberals.

    So there's the answer, and we already have the bumper stickers: to create a broader range of political options, Think Globally, Act Locally.

    •  But Bernie will vote with the Democrats to (none)

      organize the Senate. From that perspective, his third-party status is less than full-fledged.

      f/k/a one of the people "`Our country, right or wrong!' . . . when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." (Sen. Carl Schurz)

      by another American on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:33:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Not at all (none)
        Even in parliamentary systems that are deliberately structured to accommodate many parties, everybody ends up choosing between the two top candidates.
        •  But Bernie is not part of a national, electoral (none)

          third party. Whatever "line" appears opposite his name on the ballot, he's essentially an independent. Nor, so far as I can tell, has his presence in Vermont politics challenged the basic two-party system in Vermont, much less across the country. What prospect is there that:

          • the next Representative from Vermont will not be a Democrat or a Republican?

          • the next Governor of Vermont will not be a Democrat or a Republican?

          f/k/a one of the people "`Our country, right or wrong!' . . . when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." (Sen. Carl Schurz)

          by another American on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:46:30 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  Nevertheless. (none)
            Sanders -- and Ron Paul, for that matter, even though he runs as a Republican -- broaden the political discussion. Positions on issues that neither party will endorse find a voice in Congress. As a result, the existing two parties may shift.

            Vermont is indeed likely to elect a Democrat to Sanders seat. I don't know about the Governorship, but an independent would have a reasonable shot -- Maine has elected two of them in recent years.

            Sanders was part of a local third-party movement in Vermont back in the day: the Liberty Union party, which fielded candidates regularly and got enough votes to get a line on the ballot. I believe Peter Diamondstone still runs on that ticket.

    •  Now there's a tired old saying (none)
      ... that never loses it's intense aroma of truth, no matter how often it's used. Think Globally, Act Locally. Yes.
  •  The only way for another party to grow (4.00)
    is from the ground up. Start with county commissioners, state legislative seats. It just won't work to start at the top.
  •  As Abraham Lincoln said... (4.00)
    ...a house divided against itself shall not stand.

    You're right as usual, MSOC.  The problem is in getting the centrists who may have socially libertarian tendencies to realize why it's dangerous to sell themsleves out wholesale to the corportists.  Inevitably, this conflict will lead to the question of the rights of the many (the people) over the rights of the few (the corporations).

    It's okay to be a centrist as long as you establish some bedrock social principles that ARE NOT for sale.  The rights of the individual are a good place to start.

    We already know that the kool-aiders on the right don't give two shits about individuals if those individuals don't have campaign dollars.  But I'd like to think that the moderates in both the Democratic and Republican parties don't subscribe to this belief.  

    We need to let them know that there are some lines that cannot be crossed, and to stand up to their corporate donors whenever they feel the corporatists are are crossing those lines REGARDLESS OF THE ULTIMATE CONSEQUENCES (i.e. getting funding cut off).  That's what matters in my book.

    People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

    by viget on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:32:20 PM PST

    •  Lincoln 1860 (4.00)
      if I say so myself.

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:37:52 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You're right... (4.00)
        ...somehow I've still not gotten around to fully reading your Lincoln 1860 diary.  For that, I apologize.

        And brevity, of course, isn't my strong suit. :)

        People should not be afraid of their governments. Governments should be afraid of their people.

        by viget on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:51:09 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

      •  Do you really believe (none)
        we are in the midst of a battle over basic rights between corporations and individuals?

        I don't. Corporations care little about the outcome of the abortion wars.  In fact, many corporations are more progressive than the Repubs.  We are really in the midst of an assualt on civil liberties by fundamentalists.

        •  Literary license (4.00)
          The basic thinking is sound. I won't get into semantic quibbles.

          I've been arguing about the issue MAryscott diaries for the last two days and believe some of my thoughts are being considered.

          The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

          by Armando on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:05:23 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

        •  Trust me (none)
          If you believe that about corporations, you are delusional.  I've worked for about ten different companies, and every single one is corrupt.  Additionally, the religious reich is annoying, but they are being played as a scapegoat by the corporate interests.  Look at the people the Republicans put in office.  Sure, they talk about religion sometimes, but they are overwhelmingly involved with private sector business matters.  Cheney with Halliburton, the entire Bush administration (and Tom Delay) and Enron, all of the Republican party and Jack Abramoff, and the wars our country has waged for money.  Do you think Iraq was invaded for Jesus, or for cash?
    •  Ding, ding, ding! (4.00)
      It's okay to be a centrist as long as you establish some bedrock social principles that ARE NOT for sale.  The rights of the individual are a good place to start.

      This is the money (no pun intended) quote. Honestly, I don't know that there are many of these and I wonder if we start leaning the Democratic party further to the left, if most centrist will start leaning right and voting Republicans into office.

      And if we create a 3rd party, on the left, are we going to have enough of a presence in Congress to make a difference?

      A conundrum indeed!

  •  I share MSOC's frustration, but (none)
    it does not matter if we have a two party system or a multi party system if the end objective is wholesale adoption of the political left's agenda (excluding here, as MSOC does, the right and the center).  

    At the end of the day we have to have a governing majority.  Even if we had three or more parties, the "ruling" coalition would need to join forces with other coalitions (just as it happens in European parliamentary systems).

    To me, the number or makeup of the parties is just tilting at windmills.  Until we convince a larger percentage of Americans to embrace our agenda, we will be where we are today whether there is one or one hundred political parties.

  •  Learn from the Republicans (4.00)
    Their "big tent" includes old-line Republicans, security moms (and dads), the Religious Right, libertarians, and Chamber of Commerce types.

    How does that unlikely combination manage to coexist? They do it by (a) taking a long-range view and (b) forming ad hoc coalitions around individual issues (for example, conservative Christians will team up with libertarians on a school-voucher plan).

  •  Those are some pretty crummy poll choices (none)
    but maybe being a more moderate/liberal who has no intention of ever abandoninbg the Democratic Party- it wasn't meant for me.
  •  I am not (none)
    a leftist or the liberalest of the liberal, but I have been appalled at the ineptitude of the Democratic Party to win elections. If I was a leftist/socialist, I think that I would still realize that while the Dems are the lesser of two evils, it is a hell of a lot less. I don't think anyone, not even the most ardent of the left wing, would say that a Gore or Kerry presidency would have been the same as Bush's, or even marginally better--it would have been 180 degrees better! Or that a Democratic Ccongress would just be a bit better than a GOP one, it would be EXTREMELY better.

    I think that the bottom line is that there are more right-of-center people in this country (including those who really are liberal but don't know it yet, or the example of people who vote agianst their economic self interests for Republicans over social issues), as much as we would like to think otherwise, that's just the way it is, and that is what doesn't allow the Democratic Party to hold leftist views, they would not appeal to most Americans, even the ones that are liberals but don't know it yet. America just needs to produce more liberals at the end of the day.

    I would also like to say that the problem with our 2 party system is insurmountable, as you well stated, 3rd parties are futile, and it would take a constitutional amendment to change the system. I am totally in favor of a parliamentary system, and I think the coutry would be better off, and people who hold leftist views like yourself would be far better represented than they are now. But it is just an impossibility. The Democratic PArty is all we have, and without it, we have nothing.


    by michael1104 on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:37:38 PM PST

  •  You forgot an option (4.00)
    "Take over the Democratic Party"

    It's easier to jack a car than to build one from scratch.

    I'm a die-hard liberal. I believe in the power of government to address human needs in ways that the 'private sector' (aka, profit motive) cannot... or will not.  I believe that government needs to regulate industry and create a fair playing field. I believe that government needs to look out after workers. It goes on and on.

    I think we need to take over the Democratic party. It won't be easy. It will be a herculean effort. But it can be done. How can I be so sure? Because the right-wing took over the Republicans.


    It will be easier that creating a third party. And faster. But it won't be easy enough or fast enough for most of us, myself included.

    Which is why I've got little time to waste.

    Don't mourn: organize.

    by Malacandra on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:37:56 PM PST

    •  Bingo! (none)

      The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

      by Armando on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:39:03 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

    •  Oh, and by the way... (none)
      Voting isn't doing nearly enough.

      Get on your central committee. Or your AD committee. Waiting for others to fix the party, or build a new one... that just won't cut it.

      Don't mourn: organize.

      by Malacandra on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:40:24 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  That won't be enough (4.00)
        Seriously disfunctional committees actively reject assistance from reformers. Frex, I've been involved with that in the neighborhood community youth group, volunteered hours and hours and come up with new plans and strategys and watched the power plays and the fear rule and given up after 3+ years of waiting for the Old Guard to give up their death grip on the system - and I've watched the state Dems play Keystone Kops and Clown Car while the only successful Democratic politicians have come from completely outside the system and won only with the help of disgruntled state Republicans.

        Or, think of what they did to Howard Dean and the Deaniacs. It's only by building a viable alternative that you can win that way - instead of joining them and waiting for approval, make your own and make them beg to join you instead.

        But that takes lots of money, and other resources...

        "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

        by bellatrys on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:17:25 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

        •  Hey... (none)
          You don't have to tell me about dysfunctional committees: the one in my county is legendary in my state.  

          But here's the thing, a few progressives, here and there, joined the DCC over the years only to generally frustrated and leave in disgust. Some have stuck in there and although outnumbered, have credibility because they are doing the actual committee work that needs to be done. But it's frustrating and taxes their good will and dedication.

          But this year will be different. Why?  Because our DFA group is working together with our PDA group and other organizations and we're not running a few progressives for the central committee... we're running a whole slate of 'em.  And we think there enough disgust with the normal state of affairs around here that we're going to become a significant presence.

          Think what they did to Howard Dean and the Deaniacs???  

          Well, Howard Dean is the party chair... and we are the Deaniacs. We got enough people elected delegates to the California Democratic Party last year that we established a new Progressive Caucus.

          OK, we didn't get Dean nominated to top the ticket in 2003... but we've got more experience under our belt.

          As for money and other resources, it's out there.  Its up to us to become credible recipients of them by building upon successes.

          Don't mourn: organize.

          by Malacandra on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:15:32 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  That's what I mean (4.00)
            Dean lost. They destroyed him in the presidency, and it's arguable that the Democratic Party lost the '04 election as a result. But the Deaniacs had built something and as a result, when the Dream crumbled, after trying to beat the Doctor to pieces in the ashes of Rethug victory (anyone still baffled how the Revolutionaries and the anti-Fascist partisans in China and Spain could spend as much effort fighting themselves as they did the govt? not me) when that failed, they had only one realistic option.

            Because Dean and his following had built something stronger than them. And they could marginalize and make themselves irrelevant - as the grassroots resistance in those unhappy hours proved even to those deluded DNC'rs - or they could capitulate and accept him as chief.

            Which doesn't mean they obey, in any meaningful way, or make his job easy - but then, any student of Gaelic history knows that a chieftan's job was never easy, unless you were purely symbolic, the out-of-the-loop Ard Ri. But it does mean that they had to back down, give in, bend the knee to the man and the women and men they had demonized as "crazy" "fanatics" and "unrealistic."

            The Deaniacs didn't get that power for the good Doctor by being good little doobies working in the system for years until they were rewarded with power by the insiders. They got it by storming the Castle. --No, they built their own fucking castle and starved out the Barons, just like the old Rhein castles all up and down to the Drachenfels.

            And that's what we've got to do - all over.

            "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

            by bellatrys on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:26:11 PM PST

            [ Parent ]

            •  Sorry... I misunderstood (none)
              But, yeah... this was a case of storming the castle... but we also tried to do the "fresh horses" thing and not antagonize potential allies... because there actually are many good people working within the party, long term, who are as angry and disgusted as we are!  

              And there are also the pains in the ass... <sigh>

              Don't mourn: organize.

              by Malacandra on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:30:43 PM PST

              [ Parent ]

    •  But are we looking at 20 years to accomplish (none)
      this? If so, this country will (if it hasn't been wiped off the face of the earth by then) a mere shadow of its former nationish self.

      The way the election system here is stacked, it is impossible to grow a third party; no access to federal funding, etc. I figure that if Jesus appeared tomorrow to announce his third party in the US it would fail.

      So how uncomfortable now are some Republican voters who thought that they were (re??)electing someone with their values? I suspect that there  votersare many out there who don't go to fundie churches, and are not happy with Iraq, and maybe not happy with their economic situation.

      Can the Dems come up with a reasonable platform to accomodate these disaffected? I don't know. I don't see another move to a centrist position as being a winner; we will be dealing with a new Pres candidate  from the Republicans, and unless they are insane, they must go more centrist.

      Are the in this country really willing to try something different than the last 20 years? (OK, I admit, I never voted for Clinton because I realized that the choice was made long before the primaries by a Dem committee. I thought that primaries were supposed to allow ordinary citizens a place at the table).

      Well, my question still stands: Are the in this country really willing to try something different?

      •  I hope not. (none)
        If it takes 20 years, that would bite... but then again I didn't think we had a chance for an insurgent like Dean to rise to the head of the party so quickly.

        Things can happen fast if there are enough people pulling in that direction.

        The question is... how many people will pull, and how many people will stand on the sidelines saying "you missed a spot"?

        Don't mourn: organize.

        by Malacandra on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:18:22 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Fortunately we actually have a candidate in 2008 (4.00)
      that we can be proud of. How many years has it been since you were eager to see a candidate win the Party's nomination? Yeah, keep thinking back, way back...

      But I would be ecstatic if Feingold wins the nomination this time. He's for real, he's got guts and principles. He speaks his mind, clearly and bluntly. The man clearly is brilliant. I can't think of many presidential candidates to compare him to, not in recent memory.

      If we get a nominee like that, we can set the nation afire with enthusiasm for reform. As repulsed as I am by so many Congressional Democrats, and worn down by decades of Democratic fecklessness, I am very excited about the 2008 election because of Feingold's presumptive candidacy.

    •  Have a 4 (4.00)
      I am all for hijacking the Democratic party.  Then we can call ourselves the Socialist party, and the Wingnuts heads will explode.

      How much fun will that be to watch when Bill O'Riellys head spins off his neck?

  •  If we could create a viable liberal-left third- (4.00)

    party, than surely we could become the dominant element in the Democratic Party. Unless and until an issue arises to disrupt the current two-party system (as slavery did before the Civil War), trying to build a third-party strikes me as a waste of time, energy, and money better devoted to:

    • defeating Republicans; and

    • nominating the most liberal, likely-to-be-electable Democrats.

    Why defeat Republicans

    • Because Ralph Nader notwithstanding, it made a great difference to millions of Americans (indeed, to milllions of people throughout the world) that George Bush, rather than Al Gore, became president in 2000.

    • Because a Democratic Senate majority would not have confirmed Alito.

    • Because a Democratic House majority would not have enacted Bush's tax follies.

    • etc., etc.

    Why concentrate on nominating liberal, electable Democrats?

    Because once the priority of defeating Republicans is accepted, the only way to accomplish this (the very occasional Bernie Sanders notwithstanding) is by electing Democrats.

    f/k/a one of the people "`Our country, right or wrong!' . . . when right to be kept right; when wrong to be put right." (Sen. Carl Schurz)

    by another American on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:41:29 PM PST

  •  Oh, great (none)
    Yesterday I made you puke.  Today you put "Wrapped Around Your Finger" in my head for the rest of the day.

    I guess that's a fair tradeoff.

    "The American people will trust the Democratic Party to defend America when they believe that Democrats will defend other Democrats." Wesley Clark

    by The Termite on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:43:43 PM PST

  •  Long View (4.00)
    The Democratic Party has not abandoned us. It just hasn't finished coming around to us. Seriously. Half the party was for segregation just a while back. We can't entirely blame the party for starting Vietnam but they did help pass the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution unanimously in the House and with only 2 nays in the Senate.

    The militant corporatists, the social conservatives, and the all-around asses have made a home for themselves in the Republican Party, something that they had to work hard for. Missteps like the bad showing of McGovern, and the SDS weirdness (see "Weathermen") did not help the "left" takeover of the Dems that was begun largely by RFK.

    The Republicans have abandoned fiscal conservatives (we've actually been that party for decades now), egalitarians of all stripes including merely racial, libertarians and their less radical ilk, and although it has yet to catch up with them the military. And real Christians. This is not new. Hillary Clinton for example was raised Republican and if it were still Ike's party, have we any doubt she'd be in it? Lot's of Republican types have drifted over here, and moreover lots of conservative Dem holdovers from the time when it was Zel Miller's idea of a "national party," are still in it.

    And so we have a lot of people here still beholden to conservative idiology. We have not convinced them completely that "liberalism" is anything but something to experiment with in college. That's one view.

    The other view is that all the gains this country made in the 20th century (and before, actually) were Liberal. Conservatism has always been the force holding us back, from stabbing Native Americans in the back to witch trials to McCarthyism, segregation, etc. And as the Republican Party has at least yet not completely backslid on all those issues, we've made real liberal progress. But having been the cutting edge for movements generally at first unpopular, liberalism as a term and to a certain lesser extent a concept, has been dulled over time.

    We need to get out the whetstone. Much has been said about the need to do that, but too little has been accomplished.

    Just bear in mind that we are in the process of making this party our home. But that we cannot exclude others. In fact our goal should be to get at least 85% of voters into it in the long run. What will that take? Education. We know we are right on the issues, at least most of them (wink). So that will take education, through the use not only of clever marketing and disorganized entreaties such as this site can offer over the course of many visitations, but also through much sharper, deeper philosophical explanation and practical planning.

    9/11 + 4 Years = Katrina... Conservatism Kills.

    by NewDirection on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:44:06 PM PST

  •  Two thoughts on your thesis (none)
    1.  We should continue to elect Democrats, but bend them to our will through contributions.  The more contributions designated as comig from liberals, to support candidates willing to suport liberal causes, the more liberal the elected Democrats will be.  Liberals are starting to do this (e.g. the Eschaton, dKos and other online campaign contribution drives), but only when candidates start seeing liberals as a viable power base (that is, a source of campaign funds) will they start loudly espousing liberal agendas.  Much of Democrats' funding now is, I believe, better characterized as centrist or rightist, which has moved Democrats rightward.

    2.  I think a very good way of pushing for change in the system would be to push for instant-runoff elections (IREs).  With IREs, voters could vote for a wanted candidate, and a fallback candidate.  This would greatly ease the rise of new political parties.  The push for such a system would have to be very strong, however, since the system would threaten both existing Democratic and Republican power structures.  But since IREs promote choice and freedom, they should be a basic part of the progressive/liberal agenda.
  •  One disagreement ;) (4.00)
    Of course, if it's serenity you're after, political activism and awareness are the wrong milieu. Best check out entirely, then, get along with you. BUT... therein lies MY dilemma, anyway: I cannot rest, or reach serenity, knowing how many people in the world suffer needlessly due to circumstances against which I have it in my power to at least make an EFFORT to change. I've tried turning off the world and living in my bubble; even blind drunk of every waking moment, I couldn't turn it off.

    The only way to Reach serenity, imho, is to know that you are doing all you can to help.

    We all fight in our own ways, some in prayer, some on blogs, some on the Street. Having done all three, as well as done some Nothingatall, I can tell you that the line 'There is no Peace without Justice' is certainly true for me and everyone I associate with.

    This is in no way a flame, but until I learned to keep my passions in balance, I was no where near as effective as I am now. Finding the fulcrum between being passionately involved and being detached enough to be effective over the long haul (looooong) was a key for me. It has also led to many other discoveries.

    Thank You, from the bottom of my heart for all your Passion and hard work!

    "The pen is mightier than the sword, but only at a range of greater than five feet" Malaclypse the Younger

    by buhdydharma on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 01:50:14 PM PST

  •  If (none)
    this is what you're looking for, I got you covered.

    We abandoned this idea after there wasn't enough support or time (from the founders) to continue, and when I decided beating the Radical Right was more important than breaking the Party System for the present.  But if someone wanted to reinaugurate this idea again...I'd be all about that. If somebody's interested, my e-mail's listed on my profile.

  •  Nice picture! (none)
    We need more art on DKos.

    Perhaps some mighty victory is growing in you now. - Mike Finley

    by hrh on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:06:44 PM PST

  •  No. You have to beat them with sticks too. (4.00)
    You have to make the lives of the Party Democrats as much a living hell for their Lesser Evil as the NRA and the RTL and the Moral Majority and all their ilk made life for the Republicans for the past 40 years until they turned their Party around and into what it is today.

    You have to force the change, you can't wait for it to happen. (See also King, Martin Luther Jr.)

    It won't be fun. They will scream. They will call you "mean." They will say you're the ones hurting the Party and America (as they already do.)

    But it's passively enabling Evil, pretending it's Good Enough by being Not As Bad As It Could Be, maybe lying a little bit harder and pretending your'e actually reducing the Evil by going along and getting along, if you don't poke them hard and relentlessly, the way you would with an evil ironmouthed son-of-a-gun who bites you whenever you turn your head, stomps on your feet,  rips the reins out of your hands, and bulldozes over everyone else on the trail.

    If, after all that, instead of popping him good with the crop and holding him to a tight trot, you give him sugar and carrots - then you've just told him you like it when he does that, and he should do it more, because you'll reward him for ignoring you and disobeying you and hurting you and being a menace to the rest of society...

    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

    by bellatrys on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:11:18 PM PST

  •  And let me be the first (4.00)
    to call you  . . . a Vichy Socialist.


    The SCOTUS is extraordinary.

    by Armando on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:11:55 PM PST

    •  But more important (4.00)
      I said some of the same things this morning over at Blue NC.

      This excellent diary on new research about how human brains process political dissonance is worth more discussion.  The main thesis is this:

      Essentially, it appears as if partisans twirl the cognitive kaleidoscope until they get the conclusions they want, and then they get massively reinforced for it, with the elimination of negative emotional states and activation of positive ones. The result is that partisan beliefs are calcified, and the person can learn very little from new data.

      As I noted when the diary was first posted, I fully admit that I can barely stand to listen to wingers talk. I've given that matter some serious thought and arrived at my own 'partisan' explanation:

      I don't want to hear what wingers have to say because I fundamentally don't trust them. They distort truth to match their ideologies. And they are incapable of honest introspection.

      The fact is, I used to be aggressively independent in my political practices. I'd listen openly to ideas from any quarter and respond without defensiveness. I didn't care whether an elected official was a Democrat, a Republican or a Communist, I'd give them all the benefit of my criticism and praise as suited me, looking always for the common ground. As it turns out, I was moderate to a fault.

      Because what I learned the hard way is that the Republican party, pushed inexorably toward the right by Christian arrogance and corporate greed, has chosen to put  power ahead of public good. This is most evidenced in the spectacular double standard around presidential conduct. Wingers took Bill Clinton on with a vengance for lying about Monica, but they are stunningly silent on the disaster that is George Bush. They are tolerating his criminal war in Iraq, his record deficits, his gross incompetence and his cronyism with little more than quiet hand-wringing.

      Democrats, on the other hand, have a history of being self-critical in ways that probably don't serve us well. Our big tent is a chaotic place where unity has been less important than doing what we believe is the right thing. Progressive North Carolinians, for example, have called Jim "Delay" Black out as a shady character at best and a crook at worst. Many of us want him out of his speaker's position, and some of us want him out of office. We've challenged Easley on his lazy leadership. We've pushed on Price and Watt to get more engaged in restoring our Democracy. And we've done it all in the public eye.

      So until I see wingers taking accountability for their own failures, you'll get no more mister nice guy from me. I'm leaving moderation to the moderates and fighting fire with fire.

      I may not have $100,000 to burn every week on my ego like Art Pope does, but I do have my 2 cents. And I'm pissed.

  •  The question may come down to (4.00)
    whether the Democratic Party abandoned the liberal agenda or liberals abandoned politics.

    From 1932 to 1972 the Democratic Party carried the liberal banner with pride. After the McGovern loss liberals allowed themselves to be painted as weak on defense and profligate spenders of taxpayer money.

    Liberals became embarassed to be called liberals and hid in the closet. I worked for a time for a leftist union because it seemed like the only place you could be openly leftist and proud of it.

    Things have gone badly for the country to such an extent that those liberals who kept their views quiet can't be silent any longer. They are too angry to care how the neocons try to label them.

    At the same time the swing vote center is losing faith in the neocon agenda. The weak poll numbers for Bush in almost every area are showing that.

    Many of the old time left-of-center Democrats are showing signs of renewed fire in the belly. Hillary Clinton stood and applauded when Bush lamented the failure of Congress to act on his Social Security initiative. She was rapped for playing to the Kossack fringe. Whatever motivated her, I was glad to see it. I think it's about time for her to come out of the liberal closet too.

    It may be premature to bolt the Democratic Party now. That might be quitting when you're on the verge of winning.

  •  Its easy (3.50)
    Vote for candidates that have views you can support.

    Don't vote for candidates that don't have views you can support.

    Don't pay any attention to the (D) or the (G) after the candidates name.

    If the Dems want to run candidates who have views you can support, then that's great.  If not, vote for someone else.

    Your vote belongs to you.  Use it to support candidates that have views similar to yours.  The Democrats will try to convince you that somehow your vote belongs to them, and that even when they run awful candidates that really don't have any views similar to yours, that somehow you are still obligated to vote for them.

    If you vote for candidates you support, and this leads to Democrats losing, then the Democrats will  learn to run candidates that have views similar to yours (and thus can win), or they'll go the way of the do-do bird.

    If you continually vote for candidates that have views you support, then you are more likely to see more such candidates.  And you a more likely to see the Democrats start offering such candidates.

    If you vote for the candidate with the (D) after their name, then there is no incentive for the Democrats to ever offer a better candidate.  So the candidates with views you support will get viewer votes, and you'll see viewer of them on the ballot.  And the Dems will almost never put up candidates you can support.  So voting for the candidate with the (D) after the name is self-defeating for you if you have any hope of seeing your views succeed in the political system.

    "Everyone should go back to Africa, especially black people." -- Richard Pryor

    by COBear on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:24:26 PM PST

  •  also (4.00)
    this is the very short form of a very long rant i'm still working on, but --

    The Yellow Dog Dumbs are the Democratic Party's worst enemy, because in their authoritarianism (mirror of the Bushistas) and fearfulness, born of their Party zeal replacing any meaningful ideology, they have ensured that only the worst Dem candidates will make it to high office for decades upon decades out of dread that a Republican will win, they have convinced themselves - and way too many others - that the only way to prevent that Dreadful FateTM is to run a Dem indistinguishable from a Republican, and never to challenge or question the Party's Inner Circle's annointed.

    It's a council of defeat, despair, and ultimately betrayal of the Party they claim to love: We had to destroy the Donkey to save it.

    "Don't be a janitor on the Death Star!" - Grey Lady Bast (change @ for AT to email)

    by bellatrys on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:25:32 PM PST

  •  Thank you for this diary, Maryscott. (4.00)
    I agree that structurally and pragmatically a multi-party system is just not "on" for presidential elections in the near future, but it is always interesting to me how in other countries with multi-party systems even "losing" parties are able to apply pressure and effect change in the majority parties.  I like the idea of changing the democratic party, pulling it away from the centrifuge that is the center, but I am not sure how to do this other than writing letters, protesting, and selectively donating money.

    One quote in your diary particularly resonated with me:

    So where do we stand, those of us who believe the Democratic Party is not only broken, but DESIGNED, ultimately, to be a party that furthers an agenda we on the leftier side of the left find tepid and incomplete at best?

    Sometimes the agenda seems so tepid as to do little more than maintain the status quo - perpetuating the system as it is.

    But then I'm 1/2 socialist.

  •  Someone with a historical background - (none)
    What cause parties to end?  Why do we not have Whigs or Progressives or the Free Soilers or Greenbacks or Populists today?

    The Democratic party WILL come to an end.  So will the Republican party.  I can't tell you if either will fail in my lifetime.

    What could precipitate the end of either party short fo a cataclysm?

    RULE OF LAW. That's all the reason you need to oppose Republicans.

    by nightsweat on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:30:07 PM PST

    •  Only got one example for you. (none)
      The only time one political party has collapsed and been replaced by another was in the 1850s, when the Whig party cracked up and was replaced by the Republicans.  It was the slavery issue that did it.

      The slavery issue was poison to both of the major political parties of the time, because they were both multisectional parties divided by economic issues.  Slavery intruded an issue that cut across economic interests and instead divided the country by sections.  The Democrats split into northern and southern halves that ran separate tickets in 1860.  The Whigs split into two sectional parties, the Republicans in the north and the Constitutional Unionists in the south, that also ran separate tickets in 1860.  In the end, the Republicans won a plurality of the votes in a majority of the states.

      After the Civil War ended and the national political situation settled down, there were 3 sectional parties: northern Dems, southern Dems and Reps.  The northern Dems were the smallest, and they basically became an adjunct to the southern Dems.  In 1912 the Progressives broke away from the Reps, which had the effect of throwing the election to the Dems.  After 1920 the Progs rejoined the Reps, but they weren't happy about it.  After the Great Depression, the Progs joined the northern Dems, creating a coalition big enough to control the govt. for the next 35 years.  Then, after the Civil Rights Movement, the southern Dems joined the Reps, creating a new coalition big enough to control the govt.

  •  One idea (4.00)
    In Canada, no vote is ever totally wasted, because it's worth money to the party you voted for. Parties are given public funds in proportion to the number of people who vote for them. It gives outfits like the Greens more of a chance to make their case when they're still too weak even to win a single seat.

    Lux in tenebris lucet et tenebrae eam non comprehenderunt.
    (The light shines in darkness and the darkness has not understood it.)

    by sagesource on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:30:14 PM PST

  •  The fight, and the party, (none)
    will need to be international.

    where are the artists?
    where are the poets?

    by le sequoit on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:31:07 PM PST

  •  Voting third party, and protest votes. (4.00)
    I'd explain the idealist's rationale for voting third party, but it will have to be done by someone else, for I cannot fathom it. Because in the REAL WORLD, remember, the World as it IS... voting for a third party is almost EXACTLY the same, in the end, as not voting at all. A nonvoter's "vote" goes to the incumbent - and the vote of the  "protest voter" - at least, nationally speaking - goes to the incumbent, as well.

    I can explain it, then. During the 2000 election, based on what I saw at the time, I didn't feel that either major candidate really represented the concerns that I cared about. Remember folks, the major election issue was getting a prescription drug bill for seniors--that's a real snoozer for a college student, which I was at the time.

    Also, I've always been in favor of having multiple parties being allowed into the process. When I was growing up, I saw Ross Perot debate Bush and Clinton, and that had an effect on me. I felt that he was a down-to-earth, straight-talking old coot when I saw him in the debates. Then I read the debate transcripts, and realized that he didn't really say anything substantial about what he'd do as President. But still, it was nice to see a viable independent candidate running for President.

    However, the only reason Ross Perot ever got his foot in the door was because both of the major parties let him. That was a tactical decision on their part--they each felt that if he did anything, he'd just leech votes away from the other guy. And maybe that's what he did, but after Perot got a noticeable amount of votes, and Bush lost, the two parties decided they wouldn't try that experiment again--it's just too risky for the two-party duopoly, I guess.

    Therefore, I was doubly pissed in 2000 when all of the other third party candidates were barred from the debates. Especially since at the time, I felt that the issues I cared about--corporate corruption, big money, and its influence on politics, our laws, and our civil liberties being the big one--were probably best represented by Ralph Nader, who made a name for himself by fighting against corporate negligence. This issue wasn't mentioned at all in the debates, and it was clear to me that this was intentional, because both parties were happy with the status quo.

    So. Given that there are two parties in power, and both seem like equally poor alternatives, who do you vote for? Well, either no one, or someone else. If you can't in good conscience vote for either one, then you vote for someone else. If neither one appears to be a 'lesser evil', or you aren't in the business of voting for someone who is at least that corrupt, then you don't vote for them. Seems pretty simple, really.

    But the thing that pissed me off the most was that I couldn't even vote for Nader--because North Carolina has such bizarre election requirements that (a) he couldn't manage to get on the ballot, and (b) even any write-in votes for him weren't counted, period! Now, that should trouble anyone who is a fan of Democracy--there's obviously something wrong with not even counting write-in votes!

    Finally, I will say at the end: Gore was right. He was 111% right about George W. Bush, and what he would do to this country. Prescient, even. Bush lied his ass off all the way through the debates, and Gore told America exactly what was going to happen, and still the liar got picked over the truth. And I voted for Kerry in 2004 in part because of this--he was obviously the better candidate of the two, and any sort of value decision of mine made that very clear that a protest vote would be both futile and reckless in 2004.

    In hindsight, knowing what I know now, and seeing what Bush has done to this country, it's clear how I should have voted in 2000. However, in 2000, based on the coverage I saw and no doubt also based on my lessened political awareness, it wasn't clear at all. I saw no compelling candidate in either Bush or Gore, and I believe that many others felt the same way. But afterwards, I started to pay more attention, and once you do that, the choices become much clearer.

  •  I like the two-party system (4.00)
    because it forces voters to make compromises, to build coalitions, to be pragmatic.

    In a parliamentary system, you can "vote your conscience" and then berate your MP for cutting deals in order to get anything done. You don't have to get your own hands dirty.

    In a two-party system, you, the voter, has to cut the deal.

    That's more democratic, in a way.

    I'm a leftist, and I think having to work with moderates and centrists is actually the best thing that can happen to the left.

  •  What about Wellstone (none)
    Didn't he prove that a leftist could get elected, because of his convictions and willingness to fight for them. It is the centerness, in my opinion, that keeps the Dems in the minotity. As a party there are no "core values". When people are asked about issues like, healthcare, the environment, jobs, education, the majority answers are far to the left of the Democratic party positions. Since the Dems don't talk about th issues that really matter to people that leaves them voting for God, Guns, and Gays. We have to create a truly vibrant left poll, and realize that the Democratic party is not an opposition party. We have to work to reshape it from both within the party and from outside the party.

    To sin by silence when they should protest makes cowards of men~~ Abraham Lincoln

    by Tanya on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:36:36 PM PST

  •  Imagining the first US antiwar party convention... (none)
    Mr. Thoreau: WE believe in MEDITATING.
    Mr. Emerson: We believe in SIMPLICITY.
    Mr. Taylor: We believe in NEGOTIATION.
    Mr. Owen: We belive in FREE MEAD.
    Mr. Thoreau: Impeach the slaveholding king.
    Mr. Emerson: Go home and write him a letter.
    Mr. Taylor: Not him, won't care, write your bro.
    Mr. Owen: Write your Slave price.
    Mr. Thoreau: Ban the arrow trade!
    Mr. Emerson: Close down the racist signpost!
    Mr. Taylor: Can we get everyone to agree on just one thing?
    Mr. Owen: The people at the Alamo deserved doom.
    Mr. Thoreau: Hail transcendence!
    Mr. Taylor: We won't get eight percent but we can win.  This is our rough and ready job.  Get away off Mexico.  I think that the real way to do this is something called no longer behaving like a kicking mule without saddlebags.
    Mr. Owen: Down with body armor.  Kick some American ASSSSSSSSSSSS!
    (riot; adjournment)
  •  Ahhh, Maryscott (none)
    I agree with about 99% of what you write here, and I am happy to see you cooling down and getting more strategerical than the other night, but...

    The fact is that in our lifetime the Democratic Party never was with us. Maybe I'm ignorant, but I'm sure not disingenuous. Over the course of the late '60s and the '70s, the Democrats may have sloughed off the vast majority of the Dixiecrats, but over that same time frame became more centrist on economics. When the Democratic Party was at it's farthest left in our lives, when we were children in the '70s, it still had a significant centrist element because the post-WWII USA is an inherently rightist culture, being the ruling class of the world.

    It has been a constant struggle just to get a fair hearing in the Democratic Party, a struggle that really reached it's nadir in the first few years of this new century in the shadow of 911 and the desire by party leaders to show national unity.

    Oh how I wish I could just abandon the Dems, not so much because of one particular failure in the senate, but more because of years and years of centrist third way economic ideas nad acquiesence to a hawkish worldview where the debate is between neocon outright lunatics and "realistic" limited war hawks.  

    The Democrats have never been with us but until the current GOP government is toppled, they are the only opposition that matters, sadly.

  •  A possible first step toward a multi-party system (none)
    would be to set up such a system within the Democratic Party.

    Change the Democratic primaries from the winner-take-all system to some form of ranked voting. (There's no law that says the party primaries have to be winner-take-all, is there?) Form intra-party organizations -- Progressive Dems, Moderate Dems, Blue Dog Dems, etc. -- that would nominate and promote candidates for the primaries. Use these primaries as a demo to popularize the alternative voting system itself (and the "big tent" meme at the same time): "In the Democratic Party, you don't have to settle for the lesser of two evils. You can vote as liberally or conservatively as you like, and your vote will never be wasted."

    If some form of ranked voting/multiparty voting takes hold within the party, we will have a strong mandate for implementing the same system on a nationwide system when we have enough power to do so. And at that point, the various intra-party orgs can become full-fledged parties in their own right.

    <div style="color: gray; font-size: 80%">(-7.88, -8.97)</div>

    by Abou Ben Adhem on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 02:56:27 PM PST

  •  Vote the record, not the party (none)
    I'll vote against a candidate on announced positions alone, but mostly based on what of their record I can discern. Without a record, or at least a reputation, sorry, I won't vote for anyone I don't know. A few empty spots on my ballot where I see no reason to vote for any candidate for some ofice merely because of some party nomination alone. I've found fewer Republicans who hadn't  gone on record favoring something I find despicable, none since I came to Eugene.
    Now that mostly means voting for Democrats, but I can't see why anyone would hesitate to vote for an independent or third party candidate to avoid voting for a Democrat whose record offended.
    It's the only effective protest available. Sometimes you get a Bernie Sanders out of the deal. Somtimes you scare a Democrat and positions get modified more to your liking.
    I always cast a ballot in every election. Any candidate for any office can lose my vote.

    "Think this through with me, let me know your mind." - Hunter/Garcia

    by epcraig on Thu Feb 02, 2006 at 03:18:41 PM PST

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