This is the first part of a series on the restoration of Progressivism in American politics.
“It’s a very simple system. You have the Republicans who are the conservatives and you have the Democrats who are also the conservatives.”
When I heard those words in a Political Science class at the Sorbonne, my impressionable 20-year old self was stunned. I had just delivered a dissertation analyzing and comparing the two-party system in America with the multi-party system in France. With just a few words, the prof demolished the premise of my argument that the two-party system was inherently more stable.
It was 1979. I had never heard anyone ever say what this prof said. The strengths (and weaknesses) of the political system in America derived from the limited choice available in a one-party state. In his rebuttal, every principle he taught during the semester was in play. He was correct and I was most grateful to have the equivalent of a “B” as my grade at the end of the course. Once back home in America, I wasn’t allowed to repeat the nonsense of an old Political Science professor from the Sorbonne, of all places. Rubbish!
After all these years, the idea of Democrats and Republicans as one political party comes to the surface here in America. It’s always served with bitterness and cynicism. I don’t welcome the recognition of party uniformity when I hear about it now. I give no support to this idea. Why not?
The foundation of political science, as taught outside the States, is engagement. Without engagement, we revert to the archaic political systems of centuries ago, or we divert into dead ends that must fail because progress ends.
The idea of party uniformity is delivered as the inevitable rational and logical conclusion reached after careful observation and analysis. From the conclusion, there’s nothing more to say and nothing more to do. It’s a nihilist surrender and the opposite of Progressivism.
When I hear or see the words, " Democrats or Republicans. It makes no difference," I want to add, "The End!" It's as final as death. More often than not, the individuals mourning the loss are Progressives. Here, there's a contradiction in terms. Progressives, by definition, are concerned with the future. They have a plan. They never die. They live to fight another day.
(Coming soon: The Left Has No Clear Governing Philosophy (Part 2: The Missing Agenda)