I've been around long enough and paid enough attention to the political life of this country to know that radical progressives -- of which I consider myself one -- see little difference between the two major parties. There's even an acronym for it, LOTE, meaning lesser of two evils. This code word is used with the most bitter contempt: radicals on the left really, really hate the Democratic Party because, they say, at least Republicans are honest about their allegiance to the elite ruling class, or our Galtian Overlords, as Atrios would say.
I get why they'd feel that way. However, I profoundly disagree, mostly because I don't see us as a society at a "to the barricades" point yet. Sure, we've got a little Occupy movement going, which I tacitly support. But a few dozen of the usual suspects occupying UC Berkeley agricultural fields until they're predictably led off in plastic-tie handcuffs spouting "Why are you doing this, man??" doesn't equal a revolution or even a serious beginning of one.
I'm with them in spirit, and I hope they find a serious way to mount a successful non-violent civil disobedience campaign that can harness itself in a way that doesn't destroy the optics they need to display. By that I mean the anarchists are fucking up their cause and always will until they can be driven from the field. I don't know how you do this today.
So in the meantime, I choose the lesser of two evils. Why? No choice.
And the lesser of two evils is the Democratic Party. Let me add that the Republicans are quite rightly called evil. There's enough proof that the conservatives really do hate a majority of Americans. Their policies prove it. The Democrats on the other hand are almost but not quite bought off by the same elites. But the cover they offer to those elite takes the form of throwing a few bones to the underclass.
I'll take those bones for now. And press for more. Not much to speak of, I admit, but better than swallowing the bitter pills of Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney et al. And seriously, if the radical progressives who want to leave the system refuse to settle, for now, for some meager bones -- hoping instead for a future violent revolution brought on by enabling an even more bitter present dominated by conservatives -- then they lose the less rabid radicals like myself that they'd need to even have access to power once the smoke clears.
And I don't particularly pretend that I'm a player. I'm just part of that class of aging hippie intellectuals that can support a radical agenda. If you lose the votes and support of even 10% of us, then the radical progressives will never truly find a voice that speaks loudly enough to mean anything.
Radical progressives long for the day when it's "to the barricades!" But honestly, don't hold your breath. The rednecks of the Bible Belt will go violent nuts long before you can do anything except burn a few SUVs as an environmental protest or chain yourselves to the top of a few trees on the Berkeley campus. Big whoop.
Meaning no disrespect, of course. But real movements don't grow on trees. They're built from the ground up, and violence doesn't work anymore. Take a look at the Arab Spring: the only clear winner so far is Tunisia where the most peaceful revolution took place. Everywhere else is in chaos still and may not emerge as democracies.
So build a new party. Call it Green, call it Blue. I'm not totally against you and somewhat with you in spirit, but the Democratic Party still feels like home because it's got a slim chance of halting the slide into the abyss. If I'm a bit against going Green -- or another third party -- it's because I remember 2000 when some of my impatient LOTE friends went Green for Ralph Nader. So we got George W. Bush. And don't try to tell me, "Don't blame Ralph Nader." I do blame him, and I blame you if you voted for him.
Just go through the litany of things George W. Bush, Dick Cheney, Donald Rumsfeld, Colin Powell, Condoleeza Rice, Paul Wolfowitz, and the rest of the whole cabal, just take a little time to contemplate the damage done and how long it'll take to restore the soul of America after that catastrophe, and tell me I should go Green to protest the two major parties for being too close to the same thing? Give me a break.
The Democratic Party may offer something only slightly beyond the margin of tolerable, but the conservatives offer something clearly unacceptable. Given that no movement toward any other clear path is in sight, I'm sticking with the thin gruel on the table. I don't have to like it, but right now it's all I've got.