FacebookTwitterRedditEmail

Slouching Toward Washington

The corrupt, interminable 2016 presidential primary process has revealed terrible flaws in United States democracy. The biggest takeaway is that our two-party monopoly system is outmoded and inadequate to represent our diverse U.S. population. We need a fresh start, with more, and more open, parties, more closely resembling other western democracies. Too many Americans are now excluded for various reasons, with no say in their own governance.

It is clear that our two major parties are actually four. The Trump faction of Republicans, the latest incarnation of the Know Nothings, is the feral flowering of inchoate frustration. In Paddy Chayefsky’s prophetic 1976 movie, Network, newscaster Howard Beale voiced Trump’s sentiments: “I’m as mad as hell and I’m not going to take it anymore.”

That’s how Trump’s followers feel. They favor anger and emotion over any actual policies. That anger is all Trump has. It doesn’t matter that he waffles or fails to address most major issues facing the nation and the world. He’s pissed off and dares anyone to fuck with him. That’s his entire campaign and it suffices for those – mainly bitter, lower-income white males – who feel as he does.

Establishment Republicans, dumped in the dust by Trump’s angry followers, have nothing to offer but their time-worn obstruction of whatever might disturb their corporate patrons. These Radical Reactionaries oppose most social or political changes, especially those proposed by the Black President. What the Reactionaries have in common with the Trump Know Nothings is a rabid racism and blind distrust of all ethnic and religious Others.

The Republican Reactionaries – fronted by fossilized hacks like McConnell, Grassley, Hatch, McCain, Graham et. al. – are a persuasive argument for Congressional term limits. Two terms for senators, four for representatives. And while we’re at it, one ten-year term for Supreme Court justices, with the possibility of a second and final ten-year term upon proof of rationality. This would have shaken out Scalia before Bush v. Gore and would long since have sent Thomas packing. Not just dead wood. Downright harmful to the country.

We don’t need a professional political class, dedicated to their own political survival. The Founders envisioned citizen-legislators taking turns in government for the common good, then returning to their useful lives outside the federal establishment. Modern U.S. politicians do not – cannot – know the problems of “average” citizens, since they do not suffer them. They have no useful lives outside (and in many cases, inside) politics.

The Democrats are also divided. Party Regulars have rigged the outcome for their long-time stalwart, Hillary Clinton. The voice of the people matters less than the confidence of Goldman Sachs and Citibank. Clinton has networked, paid off and otherwise made enough people beholden to her to ensure her ascendance. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, Clinton’s 2008 campaign head, now runs the Democratic nominating show. No one really trusts Hillary Clinton, but that does not matter. Only the presidency does.

Bernie Sanders entered the Democratic race because he knew with the current two-party monopoly of the primary process he had no chance as an independent outsider. The enthusiastic response to his Progressive ideas has surprised the Democrats and perhaps even Sanders himself. People still want hope and change, now more than ever.

Despite the opposition of the mainstream press – with especially shameful treatment by The Washington Post and The New York Times – Sanders has drawn the hopes of young people with his promises to address income inequality, abolish student debt, tackle climate change, etc. He’s the only candidate running a campaign based on actual issues. But that will not be enough to win him the nomination or perhaps even a voice in the party platform, despite his demonstrably large constituency. “Socialist” is a dirty work for many people, who cannot look beyond it to hear anything Sanders says.

Progressives need to work harder to incorporate the values of “green” environmentalists and racial and religious minorities into their platform proposals. Hispanics, African Americans and religious minorities, including Muslims, need stronger recognition of their signature issues, such as voting rights, law enforcement equity, immigration reform and justice in the court system. The Progressives are the only group with the will and ability to accommodate them.

Parties of Know-Nothings, Radical Reactionaries, Dem Regs and Progressives would make for a more accurate political landscape than the phony, megalithic duopoly we have now. We need to end the exclusive two-party control of the primaries. All forms of voter suppression, including restrictive registration procedures and bullshit I.D. obstructions, must be outlawed and strictly enforced. Such restrictions only serve the entrenched powers. We need a more dynamic system, responsive to our evolving values.

Can we expect such changes from our current political parties or the federal government? No way. They’re too heavily invested in the status quo. Such changes will have to percolate up from the state level. Electoral reform is a populist idea, like marijuana legalization, death with dignity and other issues too hot for Congress, pushed up to the national level state by state.

Such long overdue adjustments to our ossified system can help to make our democracy more equitable for everyone. Damn the oligarchs. Full speed ahead.

More articles by:

James McEnteer’s most recent book is Acting Like It Matters: John Malpede and the Los Angeles Poverty DepartmentHe lives in Quito, Ecuador.

July 15, 2020
Jennifer Loewenstein
Forging Greater Israel: Annexation by Any Other Name
John Davis
This is No Way to Live
Melvin Goodman
Bolton’s Book is Not the “Bomb” as Advertised
Kenneth Surin
Boris Johnson’s “Blundering Brilliance”…Now Only the Blundering Remains
Daniel Warner
Audacity and Hope in the Summer of Discontent
Thomas Klikauer – Nadine Campbell
Propaganda Beyond Trump
Omar Ramahi
Hagia Sophia and the Catastrophe of Symbolism
Binoy Kampmark
The Yeezy Effect: Kanye West Joins the Presidential Race
Robin Wonsley – Ty Moore
Minneapolis Ballot Measure to Dismantle the Police Will Test the Strength of Our Movement
Robert Jensen
‘Cancel Culture’ Cannot Erase a Strong Argument
Tom Clifford
Jack Charlton, Soccer and Ireland’s Working Class
July 14, 2020
Anthony DiMaggio
Canceling the Cancel Culture: Enriching Discourse or Dumbing it Down?
Patrick Cockburn
Boris Johnson Should not be Making New Global Enemies When His Country is in a Shambles
Frank Joyce
Lift From the Bottom? Yes.
Richard C. Gross
The Crackdown on Foreign Students
Steven Salaita
Should We Cancel “Cancel Culture”?
Paul Street
Sorry, the Chicago Blackhawks Need to Change Their Name and Logo
Jonathan Cook
‘Cancel Culture’ Letter is About Stifling Free Speech, Not Protecting It
John Feffer
The Global Rushmore of Autocrats
C. Douglas Lummis
Pillar of Sand in Okinawa
B. Nimri Aziz
Soft Power: Americans in Its Grip at Home Must Face the Mischief It Wields by BNimri Aziz July 11/2020
Cesar Chelala
What was lost when Ringling Bros. Left the Circus
Dan Bacher
California Regulators Approve 12 New Permits for Chevron to Frack in Kern County
George Wuerthner
Shrinking Wilderness in the Gallatin Range
Lawrence Davidson
Woodrow Wilson’s Racism: the Basis For His Support of Zionism
Binoy Kampmark
Mosques, Museums and Politics: the Fate of Hagia Sophia
Dean Baker
Propaganda on Government Action and Inequality from David Leonhardt
July 13, 2020
Gerald Sussman
The Russiagate Spectacle: Season 2?
Ishmael Reed
Lin-Manuel Miranda’s Perry Mason Moment
Jack Rasmus
Why the 3rd Quarter US Economic ‘Rebound’ Will Falter
W. T. Whitney
Oil Comes First in Peru, Not Coronavirus Danger, Not Indigenous Rights
Ralph Nader
The Enduring Case for Demanding Trump’s Resignation
Raghav Kaushik – Arun Gupta
On Coronavirus and the Anti-Police-Brutality Uprising
Deborah James
Digital Trade Rules: a Disastrous New Constitution for the Global Economy Written by and for Big Tech
Howard Lisnoff
Remembering the Nuclear Freeze Movement and Its Futility
Sam Pizzigati
Will the Biden-Sanders Economic Task Force Rattle the Rich?
Allen Baker
Trump’s Stance on Foreign College Students Digs US Economic Hole Even Deeper
Binoy Kampmark
The Coronavirus Seal: Victoria’s Borders Close
Evaggelos Vallianatos
Power, Knowledge and Virtue
Weekend Edition
July 10, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Lynnette Grey Bull
Trump’s Postcard to America From the Shrine of Hypocrisy
Anthony DiMaggio
Free Speech Fantasies: the Harper’s Letter and the Myth of American Liberalism
David Yearsley
Morricone: Maestro of Music and Image
Jeffrey St. Clair
“I Could Live With That”: How the CIA Made Afghanistan Safe for the Opium Trade
Rob Urie
Democracy and the Illusion of Choice
Paul Street
Imperial Blind Spots and a Question for Obama
FacebookTwitterRedditEmail