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Dr. Krugman just linked to this article on Bloomberg from his blog.

It starts: "Towns and villages are putting up statues and naming streets after Miklos Horthy, a former head of state who led the country into World War II on Adolf Hitler’s side."

That doesn't sound good.

We're all familiar by now with the rise of Syriza, the leftist party in Greece who has come to the forefront of popularity in the face of terrible decision-making by the two mainstream parties in that country.

And we've seen in Spain how both the left and right-of-center parties have blindly followed the diktats of Brussels and Berlin into every deepening fiscal mismanagement, something that is now putting the country (and, indeed, the entire Eurozone) into a state of serious danger.

And we saw the same thing in Ireland, where both mainstream parties simply promised voters more of the same.

As this blogger, also linked by Krugman, points out:

The first is that the extremes are gaining in Europe because centrist parties are offering voters no meaningful choices. Pasok and ND are an egregious example, but the same is true in all the other programme countries, and to a lesser extent in other countries as well. So if you want to vote against the status quo policies, you have no alternative but to vote for Syriza, or whomever.
The danger of European voters choosing extremist parties over their mainstreams is quite real. (Though, granted, Syriza has not advanced a program anywhere near as threatening as, say, a neo-Nazi Greek party like Golden Dawn.) In Hungary, where Fidesz continues to move to the right and press forward on its drive toward single-party authoritarianism, it might have already happened.

It's also worthwhile, I think, to reflect on the situation here in the U.S. under the same light.

We've got two mainstream parties, both strong advocates of Globalization and deregulated capitalism, both very strong advocates of militarism, both having a hard time resisting their impulses when it comes to use of government power to watch, detain and even torture and kill American citizens.

Yes -- we have options in our upcoming election. 1) Mitt Romney, who I suspect might do something like attack another country with nuclear weapons shortly after election as a sort of juvenile prank, and 2) Barack Obama, who -- well -- isn't Mitt Romney.

But I wonder if the long-term political health of our country isn't being damaged somewhat ...

But the sense in the minds of voters that both parties present the same vision of the future to them. In the U.S., we can't have a viable third party, because of the way the Constitution has set up our government and elections. So, we don't vote for extremist parties as an alternative.

We simply stay at home.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (11+ / 0-)

    "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

    by bink on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 08:56:57 AM PDT

  •  Short answer? Yes (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bink, greengemini, Louisiana 1976, FG, ciganka

    And for such a stupid reason, too: Since pretty much every mainstream party is backing the Merkel consensus, when it is shown to fail they begin to lose legitimacy.

    And that is not a good thing.

    First of all, most parties that exist as alternatives tend to be a bit... how to put it... kooky, and many are downright xenophobic. And those creeps are what people will turn to when no other electoral options are avialable.

    Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

    by Dauphin on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:02:25 AM PDT

    •  If You Have Time (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Louisiana 1976

      I would not mind hearing what you have to say about politics in Slovenia with the regard to the above. My normally quite politically-disconnected Slovenian friends posted a lot about the referendum for reforming family law earlier this year. But since that, things have fallen sort of silent.

      "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

      by bink on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:05:18 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Well, the government (right-wing) (4+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        bink, old wobbly, Louisiana 1976, ciganka

        managed to squeeze through an austerity package, which the unions managed to make significantly less austere. They're still trying, bless their hearts, but their popularity is currently at Bush levels.

        The left-wing opposition (the PS party) opposes the austerity measures, which is sort of good. But they don't seem to realise that our problems are essentially balance-of-payments, which is bad (you can't stimulate a small open economy the same way you can a large closed one, which leaves us, having no monetary policy, in a pickle).

        However, their leader is probably going to land himself in criminal proceedings, and will, in my view, be convicted, since he's probably guilty as sin. Still, many of us voted for
        his party knowing that was probably the case. Speaks volumes about what we think of the other side, doesn't it?

        The other left-wing party, the Social Democrats, oh boy, what a fucking mess. Their former party president really had the hots for Merkel's policies, and was only recently voted out. Oh, and did I mention he's likely a pathological narcissist, has delusions of grandeur (no, remarking that one has a pact with angels is not normal...). Oh, and his incompetencepretty much ensured the previous coalition collapsed.

        While his party voted him out, it was a close-run thing (10 votes of difference), and they're still not sure which road to take.

        Anyway, I'll leave it at that. Anything more, and I'll probably end up with a defamation suit.

        Iuris praecepta sunt haec: Honeste vivere, alterum non laedere, suum cuique tribuere. - Ulpian, Digestae 1, 3

        by Dauphin on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:19:32 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  Hitler got traction during the (3+ / 0-)

    Great Depression as did Franco in Spain and Mussolini in Italy. It seems unsettled times produce unsettled thoughts.

    "The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. Now do you begin to understand me?" ~Orwell, "1984"

    by Lily O Lady on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:10:15 AM PDT

  •  I would be more concerned (0+ / 0-)

    with the Golden Dawn party than the Syriza, quite frankly.

    Golden Dawn Party

    Golden Dawn

    (Greek: Χρυσή Αυγή, Chrysi Avgi, Greek pronunciation: [xriˈsi avˈʝi]) is a greek nationalist political party and according to them "uncompromising nationalists".[5] It is led by Nikolaos Michaloliakos and has grown from a small, fringe group to a widely reported Greek political party with nationwide support.

     Concerning national identity, it has been reported that they partly support Hellenism.[6] Michaloliakos described Golden Dawn as opposing both Communism and Capitalism.[5][3] The party's charter[7] puts the leader and the Central Committee in total control of the party.

    Opponents call it right-wing extremist[8][9]. The party has expressed sympathy with the authoritarian regime of Ioannis Metaxas.[4] Some commentators and media have described it as neo-Nazi[10][11] and fascist[12] although the group rejects these labels.[13]

    Where is this supposed to lead?
    We've got two mainstream parties, both strong advocates of Globalization and deregulated capitalism, both very strong advocates of militarism, both having a hard time resisting their impulses when it comes to use of government power to watch, detain and even torture and kill American citizens.
    US boils down to Communist vs Neo-Nazis?  You suggest people would not "stay at home" if they were options, seemingly restricted by the Constituion?  

    I'm confused.

    Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

    by EdMass on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:14:54 AM PDT

    •  Sorry to Hear (2+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Louisiana 1976, ciganka

      That you did not understand.

      Maybe you passed over this line:

      Though, granted, Syriza has not advanced a program anywhere near as threatening as, say, a neo-Nazi Greek party like Golden Dawn.
      ... without reading it.

      As far as the Constitution goes, yes -- the way that our system is set up from its foundation makes it impossible for a third party to become viable.

      So we have no risk of voters choosing a neo-Nazi and radically left party in the U.S. as a protest against the status quo.

      Our "protest voters" simply decide to stay at home on election day.

      As far as options between the parties, I ask you:

      Setting aside social issues, what is the difference between the Republican Party and Democratic Party today? Both are strongly pro-war. Both are strong advocates of trickle-down economics. Both want to fight "deficits" as opposed to engage in stimulus. Both want to cut our taxes, rather than tax the population sensibly to pay for the expenditures of the state.

      "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

      by bink on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:21:08 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  I also object to the way this has been framed (0+ / 0-)

        all over the media.

        Apparently, leftist parties are to be feared, though perhaps not as much as neo-Nazi parties.

        A Haaretz columnist yesterday says Greek Jews are between a rock and a hard place in choosing between Syriza and Neo-Nazis.

        Gee, must be hard to choose between holocaust deniers and those whose party forebears saved thousands of Jews in Athens. Tough decision.

        Here's an interesting article:

        http://www.ekathimerini.com/...

        There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

        by upstate NY on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:46:14 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  I live in the Balkans and when that whole (0+ / 0-)

          Golden Dawn thing went down I had an alarming thought after a few days.  One of the guy's videos condemns the "dictated bail-out" or basically the austerity plan.  I struggled with this and then began to wonder if he was some kind of  provocateur.  

          Now he is definitely crazy, but the way politics work in this part of the world, he could possibly be on the take to discredit the resistance to austerity.  It is all so very byzantine in nature that it is sometimes hard to tell exactly what is going on.  I just could not imagine why he would do something so totally nuts on live television.  It certainly did not gain him any support and most likely lost him some support.  

          Anyway you look at it, this stuff is scary.

          It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

          by ciganka on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 12:21:06 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  He did it for the hard core (0+ / 0-)

            and perhaps because he's deeply resentful and has anger issues. A lot of these people are worthless good-for-nothings, but they've been getting PAID by certain elements in the country to wreak mayhem.

            There are two kinds of people in this world. The kind who divide the world into two kinds of people, and the kind who don't.

            by upstate NY on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 01:51:21 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

            •  Yes, it comes out quite frequently that (1+ / 0-)
              Recommended by:
              upstate NY

              these types do get paid, and also launch bizarre conspiracies across parties.  Many of these people are also mobbed up, and involved in some pretty creepy things.  

              The odd thing for me is that here in Serbia there was this same right wing/nationalist water throwing event in the parliament several years back.  

              When we saw the first few minutes of the conflict, it was like watching a rerun of the ridiculous and offensive.  The first reaction when the water was thrown was that this was coming from the same playbook, but what followed was even more shocking.  

              It gets on my nerves, and you know how I am about my nerves...

              by ciganka on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 02:44:24 PM PDT

              [ Parent ]

      •  Actually (0+ / 0-)

        I did read it, multiple times, and saw where you mentioned Golden Dawn. The rise of right wing extremism across Europe is more alarming and very disconcerting than left-wing parties vying for voice which has not been denied since WW II.  How soon they forget?

        As far as the Constitution goes, yes -- the way that our system is set up from its foundation makes it impossible for a third party to become viable.
        If one goes back in US history a great number of political parties rose and fell, the current 2 party system and its power is, in fact a recent phenomenon over the history of the Republic.  The rise of third parties is not prevented by the Constitution.

        If one needs to ask what the fundamental differences are (setting aside social issues) between the current 2 parties then what have we been doing for decades?  

        If your premise is that there is only one system and it is rigged and hopeless,  then just say so.  

        Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

        by EdMass on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 09:47:10 AM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  It's Not My Premise (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          EdMass, Louisiana 1976

          My point in this diary entry was to suggest that having mainstream parties orbit around each other in such tight ideologically proximity is hazardous to the political system. For us, that hazard manifests itself in depressed voter turnout, I suspect.

          Anyway, I don't think that things are hopeless.

          I think that the Democratic party could do something great if it would break free from the current conventional wisdom about what it needs to be in order to win elections. If it presented itself as a real alternative to the Republican Party, it might be able to grab some discouraged non-voters and really make a strong electoral showing.

          "I'll believe that corporations are people when I see Rick Perry execute one."

          by bink on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 10:06:59 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  No, NOT impossible, just very difficult (0+ / 0-)

        If it were "impossible", our two parties would still be the Federalists and the Democratic-Republicans.

        Instead we've seen political parties come and go, and change their names, and drastically change their goals - sometimes multiple times.

        The present Democratic Party is the survivor of a major schism in the Democratic-Republican Party (it got the largest piece and ran with it). The present Republican party IS an example of a formerly third party moving into the vacuum left by the collapse of a "major" party (the Whigs).

        Anybody who thinks it can never happen again is probably wrong.

        If it's
        Not your body,
        Then it's
        Not your choice
        And it's
        None of your damn business!

        by TheOtherMaven on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 02:31:19 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  On this, we can agree. Tks for the conversation! (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    bink

    Somebody said Party! I got excited. I love Parties! Especially Parties with exclamation marks! Now I'm sad because there's not a Party! h/t AnnetteK ;-)

    by EdMass on Thu Jun 14, 2012 at 10:09:17 AM PDT

  •  Syriza is hardly extremist (0+ / 0-)

    It only looks that way compared to the wingers and neo-liberals.

  •  Well, it's not like Dems changed their (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    ciganka

    official positions all that much in the last 10-15 years. A bit of evolution on social policy, same economic policy. The problem is of course the crisis that makes people frustrated with the system they were ok with when things were better. And it's not just the periphery. There is some of it going on in France, Germany and elsewhere.

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