Is a Fight in Democratic Party Worth It?

RNN interview with Jeff Cohen, director of the Park Center for Independent Media at Ithaca College, and founder of the media watchdog FAIR. He is the co-founder of

More at The Real News

From the transcript:

RNN: Well, Jeff, what do you make of the argument from the Green Party, from the Justice Party, some of the other third parties that are being organized, that that’s where the effort should be, the electoral strategy really needs to be about building a third progressive party, and whether it’s one of those or some alliance of those, I guess, is still to be seen, but that that’s where the effort should be?

COHEN: I am a graduate of that. I’m a recovering that. You know, I worked in Barry Commoner’s third-party campaign in 1980, the best presidential candidate no one ever heard of. You know, you can decide that your progressive electoral activity is going to be getting protest candidates 1 or 2 or 3 percent of the votes. I prefer trying to work in primaries where we have a chance of actually winning, where you can bring that same full Green Party or independent progressive agenda into a much vaster audience and you can actually win a primary.

What could go wrong?

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. C

    Is a fight in the party worth it?


    Definitely not.

    Here is the problem. Bringing viewpoints within the party means that you are fundamentally constrained to operating within the machinery and with the consent of those who run it.

    Look first at the primaries. In order to present the views to the general electorate you have to win a primary or three. In order to do that you have to rally not the wider world of R’s and (gasp!) independents, but the party faithful, the people who show up to pull the levers year after year and as such are fine with the current message.

    Secondly, even if you plan to reach the faithful you have to also get the consent of their guardians, the people who run the local parties. At least in my experience those people rarely have a vested interest in upsetting the status quo and certainly aren’t going to welcome an outside view of their views.

    Both of these factors combined will make it difficult for you to move very far from the current line of thinking, if at all.

    I have watched closely and been involved in efforts to reform the Democratic Party at a local level. In these cases the efforts wound up being symbolic at best because the people who run the party were fine with the vested interests as were the voters who were still with the party because they were fine with it. While both groups were fine in principle with attracting independents that was only if the independents saw the light, not the other way around.

    While much has been made of the Tea Party’s success at changing the R’s I would point out that they have been backed by some major internal players including present party leaders, big donors, and elected congressmen. As such I would argue that is less about reforming the party than a well-funded high-stakes battle between the leadership much like Bill Clinton’s battle to take over the D’s.

    I may be overly cynical but I think the fact that we have only two parties is the problem and that the parties themselves are not the solution.

      1. Thorstein

        CB/Lambert’s link to the “Iron Law of Institutions”, above, is compelling, but I think it goes astray at Thesis #4:

        4. If you don’t believe the Democratic party is redeemable, don’t get your hopes up that another party would end up being much better. Any other party would also be subject to the Iron Law of Institutions. It thus would be quickly just as dreadful as the Democrats.

        Unlike most institutions, the Green Party is not grounded in venality. For that reason it may never achieve a majority, or even a plurality, but it can influence elections. I hope that will be enough.

        1. Min

          The platform of the Socialist Party in the U. S. in 1900 was eventually enacted into law.

        2. Phoinix

          Look up the founding of the Republican party just prior to the civil war. It started as a 3rd party around basically a single issue, came very very close to winning its first presidential election and won its second. All before the social media, and online organizational tools that we have today. The US *does* have successful 3rd parties, they just replace one of the other 2. And yeah, in a 2 party system eventually they get corrput and need to be replaced, but that’s just reality. People have organzied successful 3rd parties before in the US, so there is no excuse for not doing it today. Making excuses is a lot easier though.

    1. nonclassical

      bushbama knowingly-intentionally disposed of his grassroots, documented here:,1

      …while WikiLeaks official US cables PROVE he had deal with bushcheney to NOT
      do needed accountability:

      AND, I personally will not enable a dem to break or end Social Security:

      no compromise…get rid of bushbama…

      1. Min

        “AND, I personally will not enable a dem to break or end Social Security:”

        But you will enable a Republican to do so?

        1. different clue

          A Republican President might have a harder time achieving the destruction of Social Security and the retro-theft of its pre-payed trust fund money than would a so-called “Democratic” President. Bush certainly had a hard time. The so-called “Democrats” nearly all pretended to be Democratic by opposing Bush’s plans in order to preserve the brand value of their “Democratic Party” label. I think the so-called “Democratic” Party officeholders might do the same under a President Rommey.

          Whereas if Obama is re-elected, he and the so-called “Democratic” officeholders will co-conspire together to slow-death destroy Social Security through clever salami tactics as outlined under the Simpson-Bowles Catfood Commission plan. Obama wants to be the so-called “Democrat” who pulls a Nixon-goes-to-China against Social Security, and the so-called “Democrats” in the House and Senate want to co-conspire with him to get it done. They will call it DLC and Third Way and bi-partisan and post-partisan and creative.

          So actually, Obama would be more dangerous to Social Security than Romney would because he would give the so-called “Democrats” in the House and Senate the so-called “Democratic” party leader Presidential cover they desparately seek in order to destroy Social Security. A President Romney would deny them that plausible cover.

    2. Tearful Yearning Dupas

      nonc, thanks for that Nation link, it’s very encouraging, all these desperate Dem attempts to drive civil society down the party cattle chutes, shut you up and tell you what to think. The last-ditch battle of the Dem careerists is getting OWS people to try and tinker with the system, as if anybody gives a sht what they think. Like all party hacks, career Dems want to turn civil society on and off like a light switch – turn it on for elections and then when they win, turn it off for unhindered influence trading and abuse of function. Their problem is, once the state is discredited, it has nothing of interest to say to civil society. In basket-case failing states like ours, civil society resonates more to the very light touch of UNESCO or ECOSOC or UNCTAD. Their message gets smuggled in by migrants or educated owning-class apostates. Culture of Peace, sounds vague and hippy-dippy, right? Serious threat to the war profiteers. Highly competent institutional backing. Not within the state’s control.

    3. Amateur Socialist

      It seems naive to me to examine the T-Party phenomenon only from the funding/organizing ( or “supply” if you prefer the economic formulation ) side.

      The funding of the T-Parties was undertaken by powerful party insiders to try to address 2 different but related problems. 1> The collapse of the traditional GOP branding thanks to 8 years of Bush and 2> The disastrous chairmanship of one Michael Steele.

      If you don’t think Steele had much to do with the creation of the Ts take a look at how long his chairmanship was a potemkin creation. He was basically a token which was obviously signaled by his lack of authority over any spending outside his own personal staff.

      1. nonclassical

        ..reading our history, (Geisst-“Wall $treet-A HIstory”) we see corporate conceivers created “tea-party” in 30’s also-this is playbook politics, folks…should have been expected, but peaple appear to have forgotten, or never learned, history..

        Some of us knew by 2003 what was going to happen, and took steps to protect our families…but we CARE about others…by 2005, bushit allowed credit card lobbyists (banks-lest we forget) to re-write bankruptcy laws…what did people think was going to happen? Many of us thought millions of ameriKans (k-street) were going bankrupt…

  2. traitorsall

    Spoken like a true Comminist:

    “Bringing viewpoints within the party means that you are fundamentally constrained to operating within the machinery and with the consent of those who run it”

    1. Tearful Yearning Dupes

      Oh, comminism is so Eighties. There’s an actual revolutionary movement and it knocked over a hundred-odd countries already – and you didn’t even notice, because your government is so sht-scared of it that it doesn’t dare admit that it exists. Guess what? They’re hee-ee-re!

    2. nonclassical

      folks=you don’t think this was intended?…how (as I noted) did banks just happen to re=write bankruptcy laws, 2005?

      Naomi Klein has it right-“The Shock Doctrine-rise of disaster capitalism”…

      but most haven’t read Klein, or Perkins (“Confessions of An Economic Hit Man”)
      or Blum (“Killing Hope”), true history, including CIA assassination squad-jackels
      of 70’s=80’s south=central america and more..”austerity” by military dictate..

      original 911-Sept 11, 1973….it is actual events that “radicalize”…”The Motorcycle Diaries”….(having been to many of real places in video)…”Anaconda
      Copper” is just “United Fruit” politics…

  3. Roman Berry

    He’s a recovering that and I’m a recovering Democrat. (I remain a liberal, but the Democrats aren’t and don’t want to be and don’t really want people like me who are.)

    Here’s what Cohen is missing I think…

    Throughout our nation’s political/electoral history, it’s only been when there were credible threats from movements and political parties outside of the established party structure that real fundamental change has taken place. No one has done much of anything worth spit in terms of fundamental change by working within those established structures.

    FDR got his New Deal at least partially because there were credible Socialist (even Communist) movements pushing him from the left. Johnson got Civil Rights passed because leaders like MLK Jr (and others who were more militant) were pushing from the outside. Hell, the Republican Party was founded as a third party by anti-slavery activists who were former members of the Whig Party. That Republican Party managed to give us Abraham Lincoln.

    The Democrats and the Republicans have become two wings of one party. That’s The Money Party, and it exists to serve corporations and oligarchs, not the people.

    Bottom line? For me, a fight within (and for) the Democratic Party of FDR is a fight within (and for) a Democratic Party that no longer exists. Advising such a thing is akin to advising moderate Republicans to stay and fight within (and for) the Republican Party that also perhaps once existed but which exists no more. May as well advise Don Quixote to go tilt at windmills.

    The only way to reform either wing of The Money Party is to attack it from outside, and that means supporting and voting for something other than the status quo which The Money Party represents. Cohen has reached the wrong conclusion.

    1. Roman Berry

      One last bit…

      Cohen and others might want to take a look at what’s happening in Germany with The Pirate Party at the moment. The Guardian UK had an article in thier “Comment is Free” section on Friday. See


      It’s a fairytale success: two years ago, hardly anyone knew that the Pirate Party even existed; now, all of a sudden, it has won seats in state parliaments in four successive elections, and a new poll puts them at 11% of Germany’s national vote. And that’s despite still not having any clear stand on important issues such as Afghanistan or the euro crisis. The German press is bewildered and horrified by turns. The Pirates are a chaotic bunch, they say, a protest party without a real political agenda. A group of internet addicts, nerds who primarily want to download music and films for free.


      Overcoming barriers is about freedom. This is the point that is clearly so difficult to convey. The Pirates are not an internet party but a party interested in freedom.

      People who maintain that third parties are futile are engaging in self-fulfilling prophesy. All that is necessary for parties other than The Money Party to be viable is for people to stop saying they aren’t viable and vote for them. What we’ve been doing — supporting and voting for candidates who are part of the system and hoping that they will change the system that gave rise to them — is something approaching insanity.

      1. nonclassical

        truth told by 90 year old ex-union insider; it’s not important who votes, it’s not important how many vote-it’s important who COUNTS the votes…

        U.S. no longer has viable democracy, with no hand ballot-receipt voting machines…

        here’s story of Michael Connel-Cheney’s IT man, who invented vote shunting
        to throw 2004 Ohio, by “vote shunting”:

    2. tom allen

      Wait, you’re saying that the abolitionist Free Soil Party (“Free Soil, Free Labor, Free Men”) had a measurable effect on US political history, even though it was a third party full of sanctimonious purists like Horace Mann, Walt Whitman, John Greenleaf Whittier and Salmon P. Chase? But what did the Free Soil Party ever achieve? Aside from advancing the abolition of slavery and assisting in electing Lincoln, that is.

      1. Roman Berry

        Yeah, aside from advancing the abolition of slavery and being instrumental in the election of Abraham Lincoln to the presidency, they were absolutely worthless. If small ball like that is what third party and outside agitator politics is all about, I guess we should listen to Cohen and not even waste our time.


  4. Montanamaven

    No, it’s not. The local and state party machines are too entrenched. I experienced it first hand. Party bosses are for the most part fat and ugly. But they have a smattering of nice well meaning types in positions of power to help lure in more well meaning types. That’s what happened to me. I was coaxed to become a leader by a progressive state committee woman. Good woman. But when a bunch of us lefties (kucinich, dean, edwards people) made a very credible effort to take over the party, she sided with the bosses.

      1. MontanaMaven

        Yes, but what could she do? Better for her to stay in power where she could watch the bosses and occasionally get to speak out on her topics of peace and justice than have some uncontrollable newbie run the party from the real left. It just would have been too messy. I also “nicely” told her recently that I just had to stop communicating with her as I felt she was like an abused wife who won’t kick the bum out. Waste of my valuable time. Thank goodness I only have one lone candidate calling me still thinking I’m a county chair. I pretty much have given every candidate an earful about what I think of Democrats and to please stop calling me and asking for money. Of course, they will find new suckers.

        1. C

          Huh, sounds like we had similar experiences. I never became a party chair because I got disollusioned before that. But in general my experiences were the same. I worked with otherwise well meaning people who kept trying to “save the party” but when push came to shove they always always sided with it and thus never made any actual headway, and sadly never noticed that.

          In the end I concluded that fighting both within a party and against forces outside of it was not worthwhile and thus that only external choice would make a real difference.

  5. Tearful Yearning Dupes

    Yeah, because instead of getting one or two percent of the vote, it’s much, much better to struggle for 0.25 per cent of the House and put powerless, derided punching bags in greased-pole seats. The new poignant daydream of the scrappy Dem asskissers is getting Norman Solomon in there so he can join the Democratic Shit Through a Goose Caucus with Kucinich and Grayson and Wellstone’s bone chips.

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Philip, you’re outnumbered, and your argument uncharacteristically weak. Eureka’s is far more compelling. The party is now operating on the inertia of authoritarian followers and courtiers alone, hapless frogs who will soon boil to death rather than jump out.

      There’s already been an intraparty fight within the DP. The people lost; Wall Street, the death merchants, turncoat union bosses, and the DLC won. It is too far gone, the arthritis too advanced, and it can never again regain its credibility or moral authority. Kucinich was the last coal-mine canary. The Democratic Party must now go the way of the Whigs.

      I believe this election will show that. Obama will win re-[s]election of course. That is preordained. But he will then hammer the final nail in the DP coffin when he imposes Eurostyle austeria, dismantles Social Security and delivers Medicare to death-panel profiteers. The party is toast.

      1. nonclassical


        “The best government is one never heard of”..
        “The next best is one that is heard of and loved”…
        “The next best is one that exercises ritual”…
        “The next best is one that is heard of and feared”…

        1. ctct

          in my more lucid moments i recall the words of this master(collaboration of rustic anarchists-that’s my individualistic interpretation!)… thanks for reminding us… not that it does anything for/to govt/corp thievery.. but hell, empty(that’s a’good’ thing, kids) wisdom is the eye of the storm-it’s where we gather our strength…

    2. Ford Prefect

      Sadly, Cohen is not correct. He apparently has no experience within the Democratic Party apparat, so here’s what he’s forgetting:

      1) As Matt Stoller showed in describing two progressive losses this year, the “progressive” brand has been largely destroyed by the Democratic Party.

      2) The Party has effectively institutionalized corruption to the point where “taking over the Party” would require a great deal of money for which there are no funders. The corporate wing can not only outspend outliers five-to-one, they can also depress fund raising of outliers because they control the fund raising infrastructure of the Party. Cohen has no experience with this aspect, so I don’t really fault him for ignoring the infrastructure. But he’s going to learn that lesson soon enough!

      3) The result of all this is a fire wall against the Rabble the ancient Chinese would have been most impressed with.

    3. Synopticist

      I agree Phillip. But then we are coming at this from a UK/Western European perspective, and we can see just how f*cking horrible the Repubs are.

      The Dem primary route is the best way for genuine leftisits to get real power in the States.

      1. Aquifer

        Well from an American perspective – we know just how horrible the “f*cking Reps” are. But we also know that the Dems are just as bad – both are rather rabid wolves, it’s just that one is wearing wool, which it pulls over its adherents’ eyes on a regular basis.

        Actually the Dems have become more dangerous than Reps – our political immune systems are triggered by Reps – the Dems don’t trigger them, but rather infiltrate and destroy them – rather like AIDS ….

        I am sure Cohen and Soloman “mean well” – they are just clueless, IMO ….

        1. Synopticist

          So get inside the Dems and change them then.
          Thats what Cohen’s advocating. Become the insurgents, learn from the teabaggers and evangelicals.

          Occasionly you’ll need to take one for the team, but only the Dems can give progressives real leverage.

          1. propertius

            I’ve been inside the Dems, thank you very much. I’ve been a House District chair, a county vice-chair, a member of my state Central Committee, and a member of my state Executive Committee.

            On the local level, the party can still function in some limited capacity. Once you’re talking about statewide offices, anyone who bucks the system even a little will be crushed by the national party (usually in violation of party by-laws, I might add).

            The national party does not care about policy. It does not care about its own platform. It certainly does not care about its own grassroots (except as a source of free labor and small donations). It exists to fund itself, like any other large bureaucracy. In the unlikely event a candidate of conscience gets elected to the House or Senate, they’d be quickly marginalized by the pay-for-play scheme of committee assignments that’s been in effect for the last few years. Both parties have institutionalized bribery as a means for selecting leadership.

            I know you and Phillip mean well, but you simply have no idea what you’re talking about.

          2. Ned Ludd

            The unions are organized, and most are part of the Democratic establishment. When I went to a Democratic Party county convention in my state, I found out that the union activists and other party insiders had already chosen, among themselves, who would move on to the state convention. They then voted en masse for their pre-selected slate of candidates – everybody else was frozen out.

            Judging by the people who they elected, their primary concern was maintaining the status quo, both in terms of policy and people. For example, the gubernatorial candidates visited the county conventions, and I asked the one favored by the unions and their delegates about campaign finance reform. He brushed me off and told me that the existing system was working well for him.

            An outsider would have to out-organize the unions, which are largely aligned with the existing party establishment. Good luck with that.

    4. bmeisen

      Cohen’s right that US democracy is dominated by “winner-take-all” electoral mechanics, aka first-past-the-post metrics by which federal representation is selected according to single member district pluralities, which, research indicates, tend to produce 2-party systems.

      The point is that the 2-party system is not a mysterious illness for which a successful third-party campaign is the remedy. Anti-third-party bias is built into American democracy: elections are rigged in favor of the 2 parties and the rigging is the dominance of first-past-the-post. There is no hope that the Congress will eventually become a parliament like those in Berlin or Oslo, no hope without constitutional change, for example, the introduction of 1 man/2 votes as in German federal elections. LOL. I suggested this to a good democrat and he responded, “1 man/2 votes!?! That’s un-american!”

  6. chris m

    fuck the democratic party. he prefers a “chance of winning”? a chance of winning what exactly? we won in 2008, remember? the haters have co opted the democratic party. i wouldn’t again vote for that piece of shit obama if you put hot sharps under my fingernails. he totally fucked over progressives every chance he got. obama is worse than useless. the democratic party pretends to distinguish itself from the GOP so it is in a better position to fuck us all up the ass in exactly the same way as those it pretends to oppose.


  7. chris m

    i’d rather have romney in the white house than have four more years of hearing what a liberal obama is. enough already. at least let the GOP take the credit for this opresssion.

    1. spacecabooie

      “willing and able to do things that Republicans dreamed of but could not do ”

      I would request that at the top of your list you place the decision to block (managed personally and forcefully by the White House) the reinstatement of Glass-Steagal and the oppsition to Lincoln’s (D-Arkansas) restrictions on commodities speculation.

      (Thanks for the long post – it’s a great place to pick up readers of my comment.)

      I would add one observation to the main discussion regarding a new party – this seems to be all about benefits from an alternative to the Democratic Party that accrue to the Greens, so called Progressives, etc.

      I would emphasize that the best characteristics coming from the DP were brought forth under FDR, and combine those with Republican characteristics brought forth under Lincoln, and before that from which ever party the American anti-oligarchical system ideals of Alex Hamilton, and George Washington.

      Those characteristics were NOT anti-development. Today’s accompanying post, by an architect, is a nice modern accounting of what needs to be the goal of a citizens party (very nicely weritten, though perhaps a little too heavy on development-supporive facts for many Greens and Progressives).

      So, a down side to opening the U.S. party system to a parliamentary-like plethora of parties, is the dilution of opposition strength and empowered squabbling, officially a fractious opposition that allows other fringe parties to become otherwise unexpected winners – Germany’s Christian Democrats, U.S. TP, etc.

  8. Michael Carano

    Though I like Jeff Cohen, he is wrong here. He is preaching the same message that has been preached for over 40 years. He asks what has those looking for a third party gotten us? I ask what has working within the Democratic Party gotten us. His argument against is the same one that can be used against him. The Democratic Party has been sliding to the Right for well over 40 years, and if anyone does not see that Obama is clear experssion of this slide, he willing and able to do things that Republicans dreamed of but could not do (Socially Security and Medicare cuts, the push for privatization of schools, the passing of the Colubmia, Panama, and S. Korea Free Trade Agreements, the forthcoming Kestone pipeline, the dropping the ball on international environmental solutions, the continuation of US foreign policy and interventionsim (Honduras, Libya, now Syria), etc. This is what you get with Democrats.

    Groups like PDA, of whom both Solomon and Cohen support, are out of the CP and its thinking. Work within the party because of the structure. Well, the problem is the structure.

    The truth is we have two corporate parties, one who is a bit different, but both corporate. Both support the status quo in foreign policy and the continuation of the congressional military-industrial complex.

    Sure, Norman Solomon is a great guy and is great on the issues, but having a few progressives in Congress will get you nothing (remember Kucinich’s capitulation on Health care bill, and Kucinich is great on issues–the Dem’s are glad he is gone). We need a new party, one with a working class orientation not one that centers around supporting corporate profits regardless how it destroys our world.

    The system needs changed, and it is time for real progressives and those liberals who call themselves “Left” to begin to put all of that electoral energy into building a party with candidates that have a completely differenct perspective, the perspective well understood and becoming more apparent to more people, as shown in the Occupy movement. New paradigms are needed, not the old tired horse of changing the Demcoratic Party.

    Time to agree with Eugene Debs: “I would rather vote for what I want and not get it, then to vote for what I don’t want and get it.” Well, those within the Democratic Party have been getting it up the kazoo. Quit the cynicism–help build a real, independent movement for change. Big Labor, which is shrinking yearly, better get on board or you will be a distant memory.

  9. Eureka Springs

    One doesn’t reform criminals at the scene of an ongoing crime. Fighting inside the D or R party is accepting entirely to many continuations of crime with criminals and their loot in charge.

    I would never accept a job at BofA or JPM thinking I could help reform it from the inside and I certainly wouldn’t fool myself into thinking it’s possible in the D party. The D party is in as much denial and full of authoritarian followers as the R party. Both parties, just like the top banks, should never be considered to big to fail. They should be crushed so we may reboot and begin anew.

    I would agree if anything only mass departure from both parties and pressure from the outside would likely accomplish anything. It’s time to shame even polite company for their continued complicity/ membership in either D/R criminal organization. They need the intervention.

    We need a new constitution.
    Restored rule of law, especially at the top.
    Public only party thru campaign finance with multi-party proportional representation.

  10. Jill

    The Democratic party is full of authoritarians. Authoritarians tend not to worry about reform, they just dispense with their enemies. I see no reason to be dispensed with when I can join with others in meaningful actions trying to restore the rule of law.

    Cohen and others like him are afraid. When the Greek people didn’t do what they were supposed to and failed to vote for the oligarchy to strip every last asset from them, listening to the news coverage, that election was presented as Armageddon. Another poster above points to the Pirate party wins in Germany. Again, to the people in charge, this was Armageddon and their news organs faithfully presented it this way. There’s one big clue that we should all go third party. It scares the bejesus out of the ruling junta!

  11. Amateur Socialist

    I guess it was around 30 years ago I read Eric Foner’s history of the reconstruction period, subtitled “America’s Unfinished Revolution”. Since that time I have come to understand US history as a series of these unfinished revolutions.

    The first one failed to address the issue of slavery, so we got the civil war. Then the reconstruction period failed to address the issue of race. Then FDR’s New Deal preserves capitalism by imposing non-capitalist institutions. The civil and women’s rights movements failed to address issues of inequality etc.

    When I consider what a Romney administration might accomplish I can’t help thinking it may finally bring on our next (unfinished?) revolution. When I combine that potential with Debs admonition Mr. Carano quotes I can’t possibly provide this administration or party any support.

    Maybe the laughable disconnect between the transparent sham of Robommney and the people they both claim to represent and defend will finally bring the next revolution into being. I don’t see any reasonable alternative honestly.

    1. nonclassical’s obviously the $$$$….$$$$ is NOT “$peech”…$$$$ is PROPERTY..

      5 Years ago, Canada ended all campaign contributions..Canada’s economy wasn’t corrupted…

    2. Aquifer

      Ah yes, Mark E. Smith, interesting fellow, had quite a long back and forth with him over on Truthdig awhile ago – a couple of his later points sound like “responses” to issues brought up in our “discussion”. The problems with his argument to me are many fold – not the least of which are that IMO most of them are based on the assumption that voters will vote for the legacy parties – and so if one agrees that not voting for them is a good idea, most of his arguments disappear against voting at all evaporate. His others – correlating low turnout in SA and Cuba with regime fall are, at best, correlative, not causative as, while mentioning, he tends to rather ignore, the effect of the strong REAL opposition Parties in both those countries. He also suggests that voting 3rd party is concomitant with accepting the rule of the schmucks that win – baloney, IMO.

      The fact is many if not most folks don’t vote already – TPTB don’t give a damn whether 500 or 5 million vote as long as they vote for the duopoly. We don’t have a provision for “a vote of no confidence” in this country – not voting ain’t it. Even if a gazillion folks “voted” to boycott – it wouldn’t matter, an election would be held, a winner would be installed in office and then what? If there are enough folks to boycott to make a difference, there are enough to vote 3rd party and actually throw the bums out …

      Don’t think his points stand up to critique …

    3. ++++

      Mark Smith’s article is an daily must read.
      I would tatto it on myself if it would fit.

      1. Aquifer

        Maybe adding a few more +++ would help ….

        Actually just tatooing —- might have the same effect …

      1. _

        Peru ’01 is the best evidence of efficacy, given the infinite variability of the world of life, and it’s pretty compelling. In Peru they had a lot of other things going on but with marches and strikes it’s easy to muddy the waters and obscure the point of the action (e.g. Hippies!). Electoral boycotts go for the jugular of a lawless regime’s only claim to legitimacy, which is Democracy!!1!. The state can’t finesse it. When people stop pretending this is a democracy, it’s all over for legitimate rule.

  12. Tom Crowl

    I’ve sadly found that the grassroots “Left” has had little understanding of practical politics.

    Corporations and the political establishment from both the “Left” AND “Right” have understood that elections are all about personalities, slogans and selling fantasies… while the real work (and the real ‘devil-in-the-details) all happens in the lobbying process and the bureaucracy. This takes place not just every couple or four years but ALL the time.

    Your solution lies in opening up the lobbying process… and this requires a viable political microtransaction.

    You need to be able to click a link in an email and contribute even just 25 cents to a lobbying effort.

    Do the math.

    It bypasses the party structures and will eventually completely alter the political landscape.

    And I’ll risk my reputation (as I’ve already done) that sooner-or-later more people will wake up to their obligations and capabilities for meaningful participation in their own governance.

    If you won’t grab the reins… stop complaining about where the damn horse is taking you!!!!

    1. nonclassical

      Not a chance-you didn’t read 90 Year old union man description-doesn’t matter who votes, doesn’t matter how many vote-matters who COUNTS the votes…

      that process is NOT transparent…

  13. chris

    I know ahead of time that this post will be rambling… sorry… but I’m in a hurry to type something… surely I will say something stupid, but I hope my opinion is clear enough…

    That the system is, now more than ever, “rigged against third parties” is not nearly as important as the fact that it is, and has been for a long time, rigged against democracy itself.

    I am a huge fan of Cohen and Solomon. I was an early contributor to FAIR. But to argue that the Democrats were “forced” to move right by a grassroots, inside-the-GOP-party conservatism is naive. It is disingenuous to equate the Democrats’ eager embrace, over several decades, of neoliberal economics, financial capitalism and the war economy of rapacious empire as anything but a choice.

    The “Overton Window” (imho) is an overly clever excuse that compromised “liberals” and “progressives” use to mask their complicity in the rah-rah-siss-boom-bah school of political partisanship and access to power – and I include myself in that group, up until Clinton’s first term, when I finally defected from the party (2 decades too late). Cohen says so himself when speaking about the “left’s” easy satisfaction with gaining access without following through and asserting any demands for change.

    On issue after issue, from basic economic equality (the lack of which which underpins all inequality) to the social issues (war, abortion, gay rights, feminism, drugs) public opinion has asserted itself only to be quashed by Republicans and Democrats alike.

    Who “forced” Obama to establish the Catfood Commission that now seems headed for a victory over FDR’s New Deal egalitarianism? Who “forced” him to expand the Bush war-on-terror” Who forced him to legislate a Heritage Foundation inspired fraud now called “Obamacare? Who “forced” him to assume the mantle of the Bush?Obama tax cuts, which he will extend again? Who “forced” him to look the other way while refusing to prosecute those responsible for the greatest economic crime, the greatest transfer of wealth from the 99% to the 1%, in the history of man?

    Who “forced” all those Democratic votes for the Patriot Act, AUMF and now, the odious NDAA?

    Who “forced” Clinton to end “welfare” as we knew it (which had successfully diminished poverty levels)? And who “forced” Sen Clinton to double down on her husband’s mean-spirited “means testing” for the same or to vote for draconian bankruptcy reform?

    Who “forced” Moynihan into his philosophy of “benign neglect?”

    Who “forced” Carter to be the first neoliberal Democratic POTUS?

    Who “forced” every Democrat in the senate to vote for the confirmation of Antonin Scalia?

    …needless to say, I could go on and on.

    Vote progressive third party.

    Obama is a fraud.

    The Democrats are frauds.

    It is paramount that we end the Democratic Party “as we know it.”

    1. Doug Terpstra

      Very well said, Chris, all of it, especially the indictment of Obama as active co-conspirator and accessory to capital crimes. It’s well past time to put the Democratic Party out of our misery!

  14. Paul Tioxon

    Lesson #1: power is taken, taken by destroying everyone in opposition to you from taking it. You don’t have power because you go to a crowded room or street. OWS has no power. Because they change the editorial stance of the week on the cover of TIME magazine, doesn’t mean you have power.

    Lesson#2: Getting power requires real work. For the most part, you will lose. What is scary about a large crowd, like a protest such as OWS, is that if a large enough number of people can organize themselves into a crowd, and act in unified manner, whether controlled hierarchically or not, it can easily move in a unified manner into the elected offices by moving the same crowd into voting booths.

    Finding a large group of like minded people to talk to is the beginning of power, but power is not an abstract idea, it actually exists as the institutions that are currently set up. And, there is continual organized AND unintended opposition. Not only are you fought back by those entrenched in positions of power, but many who were together with you at the protest start to go off in every other direction, but the one that leads to where the power is. Internalized oppression takes on many formats. Read all of the I don’t vote or I write in candidates to let them know I vote. These people think voting just means showing up on election day to cast a ballot. It takes a lot of work to get candidates on the ballot, if you can even get that far.

    Lesson #3: There is not any scientific law of how to get power . Political conditions vary. The UK is a kingdom, with a Queen and a parliament. The USA is not a kingdom, where most of the land is owned by a few % of the populace, mostly the church of England, the duke of Windsor and the Crown. France killed off most of their powerful aristocracy and has a completely different electoral process. So while you can be a know it all and say people the USA are insane because they don’t vote like they do in another country, that is a meaningless counter factual argument.

    Lesson #4: You are not unique, the first, or nearly as smart as you think. Michael Harrington along with the Socialists tried a strategy of going inside the Democratic party with DSOC. That would be the Democratic Socialist Organizing Committee. It did not push the Ds to the left as much as they would have liked, but did keep environmental, community based economic development and civil rights for women and sexual minorities etc in front of fat, old Ds who would never have heard the voices from people who agitated for those policies.

    The teachers union took over much of the democratic party at the national convention when Jimmy Carter was put over the top, with their help, to run for president. That was the political death warrant for teachers and their unions, who have since been denigrated and demonized consistently from coast to coast by every loud mouth republican operative and their cheap skate dupes who write letters to the editors about how sick and tired they are of teachers making $100,000/yr with gold plated medical and retirement plans. That argument has resonated so well today that school districts are being dismembered and defunded, even in successful, safe suburban school districts due to the combined efforts of radical anti tax cheapskates and ideological anti state republicans.

    Lesson #5: Being organized to vote does not mean you will win many elections, or change the cultural landscape. During the dry spells, what you do build is community. What many OWS and those inspired by them feel, many for the first times in their lives, is the exhilaration of being alive and getting your energy out onto the street in public and beginning to see that a change in behavior in the larger community directly tied to your efforts is possible at all. First you talk and walk together and then you act together and then the action takes on more and more meaningful tasks.

    The right wing, the religious right wing, that Michele Bachman personifies refers to themselves as “movement” politics. They are comfortable and knowing in their use of this term, because they are consciously and deliberately feeling that they are a part of a social movement. It has been growing since the 60’s as a reaction to all of the social change they did not and will not ever go along with.

    There is no longer a movement, the one that I remember, of left wing movement politics. I don’t have any epiphanies to share about that. The point is, its gone. Movement politics today has produced Liberty University. It has produced a right wing law school at that university and it has fielded many thousands of dedicated foot soldiers. And that is just one example for the right.

    The community that you build through political activity can be even more important than the few, small results of electoral wins. However, the time has come, as it always seems to, when the social order is under attack. When enough people are hurting they will look for real leadership and can support a credible party such as the Green party. During the depression era, the Communist Party was the best organizing group out there. The trade unions did not like them or trust them, but did hire them at times to organize to grow their membership. The Greens and whoever else can AND SHOULD keep growing in numbers, political influence and elected wins. In the process, social relationships will be built up that are vital to gain legitimacy in the eyes of public, who are not professional full or even part type participants.

    Lesson #6 Under global and systemic capitalism, political activists and discussion groups would do well to be more compassionate to our fellow citizens. There really is an alternative to envision and work towards. But there is not enough of an alternative in practical everyday life for people to abandon their lives, their jobs, their family responsibilities and the other commitments made that are important to THEM!! Even if we, the theorists, the activists and the newly awakened into some form of participatory democracy see the urgency of the situation with accuracy, everyone else might not or might not be ready to drop out and fight back in the streets to prove they are for real.

    The systemic nature of the “too big to fail” damage to our lives shows the far reaching politics of job providing and then job crushing boom and bust cycles. People need a paycheck and have others dependent on them. And its even worse on those with little or no steady income. Let’s not attack one another over generalized concepts of a 3rd party or going inside the democratic party with same goal as the religious right as they did when they successfully took power in the republican party, if not completely dominated within it. Theirs is a case study in political struggle to take power, not just gather together in large crowds as a show of strength in mega churches on Sundays.

    Finally, this is a very large and diverse country. The democrats, like the dollar, vary in strength from region to region. The 3rd party as an idea seems to be a reasonable way forward. If it was, it would have happened by now, but there is a very real structural restraint on that happening. A very large and powerful 3rd party would probably go into one or the other of the preexisting parties by forcing out the old guard. Watching this happen in the republican party as we speak seems to confirm this route. We have an existent culture, with only 2 main dominant parties. All lot more than politics would have to change to make run offs a reality. Political reform of the electoral process may need to go hand in hand with the over all restructuring of our economy. But, that will still have to through the existing agreed upon rules of elections and voting. There is no legitimate authority than can just pronounce that corrupt old system null and void and then present us with the new one wholly formed. It will come out of political contention over ideas and then actual votes to change to the rules. Rioting and burning may help, but that is not a road I want to see my country pass over again. I saw it in the 60’s and it left my city as well as others completely devastated for years.

    Here is an article about 3rd parties and the problems that America presents to organizing one that can take power. It is not the last word or a the deterministic finality on bold and fearless living. Like I said, we are not unique, the first or smart as we think. We need to keep up the effort and learn as much as possible to be ready for success.

    1. Aquifer


      Just as the article(s) you point to were written in ’05, methinks your thinking is stuck there, too. How legitimate that line of thought was in even ’05 is debatable, but a lot of water has gone over the “damn” since then.

      What i think you fail to understand is that insofar as candidates tie their political fortunes to the Dem party, that is quite clearly a wholly owned subsidiary of TPTB, they have signaled, as Kucinich did on healthcare, that when push comes to shove, it will be party over principle, even basic principles ….

      I was once more sympathetic to the idea of reforming the Dem Party, Kucinich was the straw that broke the camel’s back, for me …

      If “egalitarians” are serious about their principles, they will leave the Dem Party in droves and work in a structure that nurtures, not strangles them ….

    2. nonclassical

      “A beginning is a time for taking the most delicate care that the balances are
      correct. This every sister of the Bene Gesserit knows…”

      Power rises in opposition to forces corrupted…”known and despised”…
      Power displaces corrupted forces…
      Power becomes corrupted…
      Corrupted power causes rise in opposition to forces corrupted..

      Earth, as “DUNE” shows us, may arise, ending human madness…the sandworm
      creates while it destroys..

    3. Jackrabbit

      “OWS has no power.”

      I didn’t think they were even trying to get power. They are raising consciousness. Setting the groundwork for needed/necessary changes.

      It’s a fantasy to think that OWS or a third-party candidate will miraculously gain power quickly or easily.

      Someone has to stand up to a corrupt power first. That is why OWS and supporting a third-party candidacy is NOT worthless.

      If Gandi and MLK had accepted the counsel of defeatists that focus only on the next election, they would have gotten nowhere.

        1. Paul Tioxon

          Oh really? What is the effect of that power? What has changed? It looks like the same economic conditions to me. It looks like the same political conditions and socially, I don’t see anything different other than gay rights in the military and in state by state marriage acts. The NAACP has just come out in support of Gay marriage rights. This is in support of Obama’s and Biden’s policy leadership. I have also seen more people out on the street in greater numbers over Trevon Martin’s murder and against guns and the license to kill laws. So, what is the difference between those 2 different worlds, both which took to the streets to gain attention, both of which ran almost concurrently?

          1. diptherio

            I bet after the first wave of lunch-counter sit-ins had came and went, you would have been all like, “what’s changed? what power does the civil rights movement have?”

            Mitt Romney was attacked by REPUBLICANS for being a vulture capitalist. I think OWS can at least be partially credited for creating the fertile ground for that bizarre turn of events.

      1. nonclassical


        let’s admit that 60’s leftist leaders were eradicated..assassinated, gotten rid of..that’s how “Dune Messiah” every regime establishes itself…do you understand this is intended?

    4. JTFaraday

      I think you William Domhoff is a good example of the lament heard frequently amongst historians of political thought that American political science departments have hired themselves out to D-Party flackdom, thereby rendering them unfit environments for either scholarly work or human inhabitation.

  15. Hugh

    Working within the Democratic party is a riff on the “more and better Democrats” theme. The 2006 election really showed how wrong this concept was. Democrats won control of both the House and Senate, and even though Bush was wildly unpopular in his last two years, the Democratic Congress not only did not push a traditional Democratic agenda, it did not challenge Bush’s. Obama’s hopey-changey schtick was able to re-invigorate this trope one last time in 2008. But by the end of 2009 when his sellout, with the connivance of all of the supposedly “better” Democrats, on healthcare had become abundantly clear, the “more and better Democrats” was well and truly dead.

    Yet here we are in 2012, an election year, and we see this failed idea resurrected again. I suppose every group has its opinion leaders, but what is extraordinary about those of liberals and progressives is that they are years behind the curve of the rank and file. We see this a lot with Krugman, for example, on economic issues. The same is true of Cohen. Depending on how you look at it, he is leading from somewhere between 2 1/2 to 6 years behind events. That, of course, is not leadership at all. Forget the Democratic party. What liberals and progressives really need to do is clean out all the deadwood in their leaderships.

    1. nonclassical

      “This is lipoleum’s museyroom..mine ur hatz goan inn…”

      “This was lipoleum’s museyroom..mine ur boutz goan oud..”

      “fin-again, find-again, fine-again”…awake..J.Joyce

    2. Nathanael

      Reorganization is tricky. We’ve got over 50% of the elected Democrats in the House on the “side of right”, I’d say, and one or two of the Senators. A grassroots which could take most of them with us to a new party would form a new party with some staying power. Otherwise, it’s a long, drawn-out internal fight.

      1. different clue

        Perhaps . . . if you live in a jurisdiction with the kind of Democratic officeholders you support, why not keep supporting those individual Democratic officeholders?

        Whereas . . . if you live in a jurisdiction with the kind of Democratic officeholders you reject, why not Third Party their evil selves? Why not give Pelosi (“impeachment is off the table”) the Nader Treatment, for example? Why not give Obama the Nader Treatment?

  16. banger

    Absolutely yes! But only if you actually do not buy into the current Narrative created by the propaganda organs. Both parties favor the same basic policies that enrich the current oligarch class made up of the following sectors: FIRE (finance, insurance, real estate), MIC, big media (including “entertainment”), big pharma and the energy industry. All these forces act in common to make policies–they use the mainstream media to articulate the different sides of these interests and dominate the “news” with a Narrative that has only a very tentative relation to anything a non-hallucinating person would call reality. I can explain this further but I can’t in this space.

    My point is that all positive change comes from “outside” political movements whether they are electoral based or social movements–the major party politicians are brokers for power–power must be established in communities. American right-wing Jews put their money where their mouths are and thus can almost dictate U.S. Israeli policies because they’re not afraid to use bare-knuckled tactics. Also true of the Miami Cubans who have been able to run U.S. Cuba policy without any need to present a sane case for it–they simply use their muscle effectively. The left has shown itself to be incapable of relapolitik that these groups have mastered. The left thinks it will prevail because they believe once people have the facts they will be persuaded. That’s just not the case and there is no evidence whatsoever that that is even remotely true–that’s not politics, that’s sermonizing.

    Thus, the left should organize itself tightly around issues they truly believe in then bond together as a tribe that excludes others and applies force where it can strategically through paid operatives, through boycotts, through organized actions (this is a big subject). This demands commitment and flexibility–so far I’ve seen very little of that in the left. There is no place at all for the left in the Democratic Party and that should be obvious unless you want to say left is right and up is down. If you support the Democratic Party you cannot be on the left by definition. It is, as a Party, a faction of the ruling party and if it should stray from the mainstream Narrative it would end as a party. Doesn’t mean you don’t cooperate with Democrats when you can–oligarchs aren’t all bad but you must negotiate with them from a position of strength as MLK did.

    1. nonclassical

      there is only one issue=$$$$ is NOT $peech=$$$$ is PROPERTY…

      all else is so far down the list of “the people’s” government…

  17. Bobbo

    He is right that there is too much of a tendency to support “whatever mediocrity the Democratic Party comes up with” and that the opposition culture in D.C. is a “hob-nobbing” culture. That is what really disappoints me about the Democratic Party. I am a lot more socially conservative than the official party line, so I do not share his vision for what the Democratic Party should become. I could overlook my differences with the official party line on social issues if I believed that there was any real conviction to crack down on the crony banking sector, to reinstate a tax system that would eliminate the incentives to hoard extreme amounts of wealth, to create a stransparent and stable banking system where small and mid sized banks were the core of the system, and to let science lead environmental policy. Sadly, establishment Democrats fail on all these issues, so all I can do is hope that a cataclysmic collapse forces change that the President’s party promised, but failed to even try to deliver.

    1. nonclassical

      hob-nob…agreed….and I approve of-help OWS…but ever been to a “mic-check”? Ever seen real issues involved? OWS can’t “follow the $$$”=inform americans what has really been perpetrated, AND americans are ensconced
      (intentionally) in debt…treadmill survival..

  18. timotheus

    Here in NY State, the Working Families Party has an interesting in-between approach: they often endorse Democrats but also will take sides in primary fights against corrupt dinosaurs and on other occasions will field a candidate of its own. The state election law helps by allowing a party to run its own ballot line for candidates of other parties. So the totals per name are combined, but one can see the clout of the WFP in each case. Their real strength, however, is the grassroots base of cadres who will join a campaign, be it electoral or another variety. Full disclosure: I am not a member but read their endorsements carefully.

  19. Glen

    I’ve voted Democratic my whole life, but not again. It will be for a candidate and a party that is a liberal rather than a DINO. That means third party for me, Obama is not a liberal.

    But it’s easy to get my vote. Move the Democratic party LEFT.

    But if they cannot do that, fuck’em.

  20. JTFaraday

    “The Party is toast.”

    I’m not so sure about that. I think if one of these two behemoths goes down, it is going to be the Republican because it was taken over by the local yokel cultural right.

    It is not really possible to function in either an increasingly multi-ethnic domestic context or a cosmopolitan global business context while you’re carting along the ugly racist, immigrant bashing American who doesn’t even believe in family planning, to include birth control.

    It is when you realize that US right wing culture—- and even its selective anti-statism—- is not only repulsive to the US cultural elite itself, but that it is also not business friendly in the 21st century environment, that you realize the interests of the cultural elite and the business elite are aligning and the shared aim of an emerging combined elite to reduce the Repugnants to far right wing rump party status becomes a possibility.

    The price for this alignment is for the D-Party to court every single major domestic US plutocratic interest from the infallibility of the FIRE sector to the infallibility of Israel to the privatization of modern welfare state functions in order to assume the role of the once and former elite friendly Republican Party.

    Obama—who started out as a member of the cultural elite— goes along with the Republican policy agenda not because he hates Republicans any less than a lot of rank and file D-Party members and progressives, but because he-— and cultural elite to which he belongs—- aim to replace them completely.

    Replace culturally right wing Republicans, not replace their official plutocratic policy agenda. They aim to replace such Republicans by fully assuming the plutocratic policy agenda that actually gets them funded.

    What this means is that the D-Party is dead to non-plutocratic interests. And indeed with the election of Obama, even in the midst of crisis the cultural elite that controls the D-Party has been willing to throw everything on the growing fire despite the fact that the advanced state of corruption in some of these plutocratic factions is of increasingly tragic proportions not only for the US but for much of the globe.

    I could be wrong of course, but I also don’t doubt for a second the monomaniacal obsessive hatred of the local yokel American right on the part of US cultural elites. This hatred far outweighs any sort of accommodation to the actual interests of those non-wealthy popular factions to which the D-Party has given lip service—and mostly just lip service—over the past 40 years in which it has been enlisting us in its culture war.

    Personally, I think the time is past when there was anything to be gained by participating in a single minded quest fueled by mutual cultural hatreds that has become so blindly destructive.

    However, if another fight within the D-Party issues in further defections from its destructive charade then let them have at it, because I am confident that the single minded cultural elite that controls it is constitutionally—- that is to say, psychologically—- utterly incapable of change and will not alter the course that it is already on regardless of where it leads.

    In this, it is not much different from its local yokel culturally right wing opponents of whom much of the same may be said.

  21. TK421

    “I prefer trying to work in primaries where we have a chance of actually winning, where you can bring that same full Green Party or independent progressive agenda into a much vaster audience and you can actually win a primary.”

    So “winning” is twice as important to him as advancing a progressive agenda. That pretty much explains it all.

  22. Wat Tyler

    The following link is to a 1979 attack on leftist types protesting in Greensboro NC. Something to think about when planning to confront the right-wing. If memory serves (I am a lifetime Tarheel) the shooters were from the Lincolnton NC area just North of Charlotte. For every Banker in the area there are 100 working class whites who love guns,god, and Dale Earnhardt Jr. (not necessarily in that order) and are under employment stress. Keep that in mind this Summer during the convention in Charlotte.


  23. Jim

    Heretical Hopes:

    The “progressive” movement doe not have an agenda for the 21st century. It still looks nostalgically to the embedded national managerial liberalism of 1933 to 1976 as the solution to our problems, with the addition of MMT, to seal the deal. This type of analysis ignores the continuing centralization and collusion of an increasingly corrupt, predatory and undemocratic private corporate power with an increasingly corrupt, predatory and undemocratic public state power.

    In my opinion the number one platform for a new progressive agenda should be a radical restructuring of national power (perhaps into a type of federation or confederation) operating under the principle of delegating as much decision-making power as possible to the local or regional level with defense and possibly money still to be handled at the national level.

    Such a call for national institutional reconstruction could be combined with a simultaneous call for greater generosity and altruistic behavior at an individual level. A clearly articulated alternative moral vision to the economic egoism of our plutocracy in conjunction with a plan for a radical institutional decentralization of corporate and governmental power would offer the potential for mobilizing a new constituency of disaffected liberals progressives and disillusion Democratic party members with, many independents, some libertarians, and a few disillusioned Republicans, tea party and perhaps even a small portion of the evangelical right.

    If such a realignment was to actually take place it could be the first step towards embedding both newly decentralized market institutions and newly decentralized state institutions into a new democratic and cultural compact.

  24. LucyLulu

    Nonclassical writes: “there is only one issue=$$$$ is NOT $peech=$$$$ is PROPERTY…”

    There is only one issue=$$$$ is NOT $peech=$$$$ is POWER…
    (there…… fixed it for ya)

    This is the root of the problem, and why it doesn’t matter if you try to change from within the party of from an outside party. It’s also why the parties have shifted right. They’ve shifted towards the interests of the moneyed which happens to be philosophically right-leaning. And as inequality has increased over the last four decades, those who benefit from right-wing policies have gained more money and thus more power to influence policy and political parties.

    When November comes, how many voters will have heard of Jill Stein or the Green party? Not even close enough to win the election. Why? No, nightly prime time national tv ads, like Obama and Romney. It takes big $$$$ to win a presidential or major election, funding that currently only comes if affiliated with the GOP or Dems. Why do tax cuts on the rich and oil subsidies keep getting passed despite overwhelming popular opposition? Why have there been no Wall St prosecutions or significant financial reform? Big $$$$ lobbying and campaign donations. Until we can get money out of campaign finance and government, we will have politicians enacting the best laws that money can buy. Most with deep pockets are not in favor of progressive policies.

    The low taxes, small government Tea Party has benefited from having their interests aligned with those of big money.

  25. Aquifer

    Even if you claim that we can only ever have 2 parties, who says they have to be Dems and Reps? The Whigs went down, so can the Dems ….

    1. Nathanael

      The Republicans are going down first. We might well see both traditional parties destroyed.

      Heck, I have my suspicions there will be a full-fledged revolution within 20 years; there’s simply not enough instituational support to prop up the current decrepit system where the Senate stops things from happening, the Supreme Court steals elections and attempts to give rich Republicans what they want, and the President orders imprisonment and execution of random innocent people.

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