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The Two Party System

charleslb
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12/9/2010 2:30:05 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
If you still have any long-suffering belief in the system left then here's one to make you scratch your head, how the heck is it that our vaunted democracy has come to be a mere two party system? How is it that all of the political, philosophical, and cultural diversity of America has been collapsed into a choice between "Republicans" and "Democrats"? Is such a limiting of our options to these two mainstream political machines really consistent with the self-image of American democracy?

Hmm, is it? Is a two party system really a multi-party system in any sense other than the strict dictionary sense (and perhaps not even that, Webster's defines multi as "many" and "multiple", well, two is hardly many and Webster's defines multiple as: "something in units of more than one or two", by such a definition it's not at all cut and dried that we have a multi-party system even in the literalistic dictionary sense!)

Okay, let's set the dictionary aside and ask ourselves again, is a mere two party system really capable of being adequately representative of the diversity of interests, needs, perspectives, and opinions out there in our society? Is everyone really and truly receiving their fair share of political representation in a system run by politicos put in power by the GOP and the DNC?

Or is it the case, rather, that the reason we've evolved a two party system is that it provides the pacifying illusion that we have real choice, while making it easy for the private-sector, plutocratic powers that be to manage politics and manipulate government to their purposes?

This last question was of course rhetorical, the hard reality of our current system of so-called "representative democracy" is that it's largely a front and façade for the money-power of Corporate America. Paring down the number of parties to two mainline organizations whose candidates are usually the only ones with the resources to have a realistic chance of winning an election simplifies the business of maneuvering the nation's political life and destiny in the direction that big business and finance wants it to go in. That is, with only two parties to subvert and co-opt it's certainly a good deal easier to dominate politics than if there were a multitude of party organizations, some of which might even sincerely vie to represent their constituency!

Well then, keeping the number of serious parties down to two is pretty obviously the economic elite's way of keeping a lid on political change and enhancing its ability to direct it. But why do we the people accept a two party arrangement that doesn't really serve our interests that well, why don't we demand a more effectively representative multi-party system? There are a couple of reasons. For one, we're propagandized to believe that our form of democracy is a workable, effective, and superior system and that its failings are due to corrupt individual politicians, not to the way the system itself is structured. This tenet of our faith in our system insulates it from any deep criticism, people seldom go any deeper in their criticism of the system than criticizing the elected officials who do such a poor job of running it. It doesn't occur to most of us that perhaps there's something fundamentally wrong with the way the system is set up.

What I mean is that the two party structure of our system is just another aspect of it that escapes criticism because of the public's uncritical belief in the integrity and sanctity of the American way. We're taught to believe that our system of government is the very embodiment of the inspired political common sense and wisdom of those patriarchs of our "civil religion", the Founding Fathers, and therefore it must be "all good". It's become almost tantamount to blasphemy to speak ill of the OGs of our history, of George Washington and company, and our veneration for them of course gets transferred to the system they crafted at the Constitutional Convention. Oh sure, people nowadays may slam what the system has degenerated into but they don't impugn the basic system devised by the big daddies of American democracy, that would be too sacrilegiously unpatriotic.

So the system and its two party format gets a pass from a disgruntled electorate that should be asking some very fundamental and acutely critical questions about it. Instead we confine ourselves to what are really rather superficial observations about the system's shortcomings and wax nostalgically for those good ole days when our parties and government really served and protected our best interests.

But when were these "good old days" when politicians sincerely had the common man's welfare at heart, back in the 1800s, in the era of Boss Tweed and the notorious Tammany Hall machine? Or do we have to go all the way back to the golden era of Hamilton, Madison, Adams, et al? If we do, and if we resolve to be quite honest with ourselves, what we'll discover is not great advocates and archetypes of democracy but rather aristocrats and members of an upper middle-class elite who didn't really believe in the "common man" at all, and who carefully designed a political system that would be just democratic enough to prevent a political strong man from coming along and subjecting them, the moneyed ruling class, to his tyranny, but a system that would not really empower the populace too much and that would allow the rich to remain the real, if unofficial, political potentates of society.

Alas then, the Founding Fathers, who were not at all models of democratic mindedness (just read their own writings), set the tone for the United States' faux democracy, a tone that bears a good deal of responsibility for what our system has tragically but predictably become, for its devolution into a system that consists of two establishment parties, both of which cater to the subversive influence and special interests of a minority of massively rich individuals and corporations. This two party system has been hallowed by tradition but doesn't deserve to endure, it inherently undercuts the effectiveness and workability of what small semblance of genuine democracy we've managed to bring into being.

One of the main goals on the agenda of any grassroots movement that aims to create a more representative, populist, and socially just governmental system should definitely be to redesign our pseudo-democracy into something more multi-faceted, i.e. a system in which we're not limited to casting our ballots for the hacks of the two big-money parties that currently rule the roost of politics, a system in which the pluralism of our society is genuinely reflected by a greater plurality of parties.

From the standpoint of establishment politicians and the power elite such a proposal is of course dangerously radical, and since they own and control the mass media and institutions that shape public opinion they have the ability to make John and Jane Q. Public share their perspective, to make us think that a people's movement for more authentic democracy, for a system that makes room for a profusion of parties is ill-advised. The propaganda machine of the Establishment should never be underestimated, it has the power to overcome our common sense and to make us vote and act in ways that are contraindicated by our own interests. This is why we all need to be more profoundly and systematically critical in our thinking about politics and not just vent disgruntlement at the current crop of officeholders. A critically-minded populace, with more political parties to represent their thinking, is what it will take to fix the system.
Yo, all of my subliterate conservative criticasters who find perusing and processing the sesquipedalian verbiage of my posts to be such a bothersome brain-taxing chore, I have a new nickname for you. Henceforth you shall be known as Pooh Bears. No, not for the obvious apt reasons, i.e., not because you're full of pooh, and not because of your ursine irritability. Rather, you put me in mind of an A.A. Milne quote, "I am a Bear of Very Little Brain, and long words bother me". Love ya, Pooh Bears.
Koopin
Posts: 12,090
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12/9/2010 2:31:55 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
__________________________________________________________________

Hover troll line. Anyone posting above this line is a troll.
kfc
Sieben
Posts: 2,736
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12/9/2010 2:38:06 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
I should make an account at revleft.org and copy/paste all of charles' threads there as my own.

All the commies will love me and spend all day reading these long winded posts, replying with some of their own essays (10 pages minimum, single spaced, font size 4).

If he complains, I'll accuse him of being a capitalist pig enforcing (intellectual) property rights.
Things that are so interesting:

http://www.debate.org...
http://www.debate.org...
InsertNameHere
Posts: 15,699
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12/9/2010 2:38:43 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/9/2010 2:38:06 PM, Sieben wrote:
I should make an account at revleft.org and copy/paste all of charles' threads there as my own.

All the commies will love me and spend all day reading these long winded posts, replying with some of their own essays (10 pages minimum, single spaced, font size 4).

If he complains, I'll accuse him of being a capitalist pig enforcing (intellectual) property rights.

lol. xD

10/10.
Danielle
Posts: 21,330
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12/9/2010 2:41:36 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/9/2010 2:38:06 PM, Sieben wrote:
If he complains, I'll accuse him of being a capitalist pig enforcing (intellectual) property rights.

I thought intellectual property wasn't capitalistic...?
President of DDO
Sieben
Posts: 2,736
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12/9/2010 2:42:10 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/9/2010 2:41:36 PM, theLwerd wrote:
At 12/9/2010 2:38:06 PM, Sieben wrote:
If he complains, I'll accuse him of being a capitalist pig enforcing (intellectual) property rights.

I thought intellectual property wasn't capitalistic...?

That will be the irony.
Things that are so interesting:

http://www.debate.org...
http://www.debate.org...
J.Kenyon
Posts: 4,194
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12/9/2010 2:55:17 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/9/2010 2:32:28 PM, InsertNameHere wrote:
tl;dr, but there needs to be more influencial parties. Moderate fascist and extreme fascist don't really give the voters much choice.

Fix'd
J.Kenyon
Posts: 4,194
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12/9/2010 3:00:37 PM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/9/2010 2:38:06 PM, Sieben wrote:
I should make an account at revleft.org and copy/paste all of charles' threads there as my own.

All the commies will love me and spend all day reading these long winded posts, replying with some of their own essays (10 pages minimum, single spaced, font size 4).

If he complains, I'll accuse him of being a capitalist pig enforcing (intellectual) property rights.

I might actually do that. We could use some more commies here. It's like stocking a fishing pond, except they wouldn't be in a pond, they'd be in a barrel. And we'd use a shotgun instead of a net.
I-am-a-panda
Posts: 15,380
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12/10/2010 9:19:04 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/9/2010 2:38:06 PM, Sieben wrote:
I should make an account at revleft.org and copy/paste all of charles' threads there as my own.

All the commies will love me and spend all day reading these long winded posts, replying with some of their own essays (10 pages minimum, single spaced, font size 4).

If he complains, I'll accuse him of being a capitalist pig enforcing (intellectual) property rights.

Link us when you do it.
Pizza. I have enormous respect for Pizza.
JBlake
Posts: 4,634
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12/10/2010 9:47:08 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Even if he is a troll (Don't recognize him, so I don't know?), it is still an interesting topic for discussion.

An argument for the two-party system is the idea of the "big tent." Left ideologies are welcome, and a part of, the Democratic Party (i.e. Social Democrats, &ct.). Right ideologies (neo-con, paleo-con, libertarians, &ct.) are welcomed within the Republican Party. It is not quite as simple as you make it out to be. It is not simply a choice between only one strict ideology or the other. This is the best we can do with the system we have.

As to WHY this is, and has traditionally been, the case in the U.S...
It is the inevitable result of having a plurality electoral system (winner-takes-all) rather than a proportional representative system. We would have to reform the entire electoral system in order to correct this problem. I would support such a change immediately. Unfortunately, there is not much (read:any) support for such a change in the U.S. at this time. Probably there is not much knowledge that other electoral systems even exist.
Reasoning
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12/10/2010 9:52:25 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Libertarianism is not right-wing, it is left-wing.
"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran
Reasoning
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12/10/2010 9:55:32 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Charlesb and the libertarians are just talking past each other.
"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran
Reasoning
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12/10/2010 10:01:47 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
Also, I think the commie on Mises has read more Marx than our Charlesb, not that this makes Charels's positions false.
"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran
Reasoning
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12/10/2010 10:11:53 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
SecurityCulture wrote:
For individuals to produce exchange-values, the products they produce must be use-values not to themselves but to other individuals, that is, social use-values.

Not so. See money.
"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran
Reasoning
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12/10/2010 10:12:08 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/10/2010 10:11:43 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/10/2010 9:52:25 AM, Reasoning wrote:
Libertarianism is not right-wing, it is left-wing.

It can be either.

Nope.
"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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12/10/2010 10:14:14 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/10/2010 9:47:08 AM, JBlake wrote:
Even if he is a troll (Don't recognize him, so I don't know?), it is still an interesting topic for discussion.

An argument for the two-party system is the idea of the "big tent." Left ideologies are welcome, and a part of, the Democratic Party (i.e. Social Democrats, &ct.). Right ideologies (neo-con, paleo-con, libertarians, &ct.) are welcomed within the Republican Party. It is not quite as simple as you make it out to be. It is not simply a choice between only one strict ideology or the other. This is the best we can do with the system we have.

As to WHY this is, and has traditionally been, the case in the U.S...
It is the inevitable result of having a plurality electoral system (winner-takes-all) rather than a proportional representative system. We would have to reform the entire electoral system in order to correct this problem. I would support such a change immediately. Unfortunately, there is not much (read:any) support for such a change in the U.S. at this time. Probably there is not much knowledge that other electoral systems even exist.

Glad to see you back JBlake.

I had a major turn around on this issue because of the "big tent" that you mentioned. I think that the inevitable outcome is more of voting for a man than a party. Whereas, multi-party systems are more dedicated to the party platform than the representative that has been chosen as their leader. A leader will emerge from such an environment rather than a party rep.

Also, our leaders are elected by a majority, or a near majority because of the two party system, which i believe is better for a country like ours. Whereas a president who wins with a total vote percentage of 32 or perhaps less will command with diminished support and substance in the public arena.

Although i abhor party politics and always urge people to register as an independent, a two party system as we have is probably the lesser of evils.
Reasoning
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12/10/2010 10:18:29 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/10/2010 10:12:40 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/10/2010 10:12:08 AM, Reasoning wrote:
At 12/10/2010 10:11:43 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/10/2010 9:52:25 AM, Reasoning wrote:
Libertarianism is not right-wing, it is left-wing.

It can be either.

Nope.

Elaborate.

http://www.fff.org...
"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran
Cody_Franklin
Posts: 9,483
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12/10/2010 10:32:35 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/10/2010 10:18:29 AM, Reasoning wrote:
At 12/10/2010 10:12:40 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/10/2010 10:12:08 AM, Reasoning wrote:
At 12/10/2010 10:11:43 AM, Cody_Franklin wrote:
At 12/10/2010 9:52:25 AM, Reasoning wrote:
Libertarianism is not right-wing, it is left-wing.

It can be either.

Nope.

Elaborate.

http://www.fff.org...

Oh, please. That's etymologically fallacious bullsh*t.
JBlake
Posts: 4,634
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12/10/2010 10:45:46 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/10/2010 10:14:14 AM, innomen wrote:

Glad to see you back JBlake.

I had a major turn around on this issue because of the "big tent" that you mentioned. I think that the inevitable outcome is more of voting for a man than a party. Whereas, multi-party systems are more dedicated to the party platform than the representative that has been chosen as their leader. A leader will emerge from such an environment rather than a party rep.

Also, our leaders are elected by a majority, or a near majority because of the two party system, which i believe is better for a country like ours. Whereas a president who wins with a total vote percentage of 32 or perhaps less will command with diminished support and substance in the public arena.

Although i abhor party politics and always urge people to register as an independent, a two party system as we have is probably the lesser of evils.

Thanks, it's good to be back. :)

I agree with your first point 100%. The U.S. system is designed to vote or an individual, not a party platform. That is not necessarily a good thing. At least with the party platform you know for certain what you are getting (because of party discipline in such systems, there is pressure to generally conform).

You make some good points that are generally true. However, I disagree with your conclusion. The problem is that it only appears as though the president (or any elected figure, really) is governing with majority support. But when there are only two parties, obviously this is what will result. Many of the voters are voting against the other guy as much as for the candidate. If you take that into account, it would probably be a similar percentage of the population in support as with a multi-party system. At least with a multi-party system more people get their views directly represented.
JBlake
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12/10/2010 10:47:44 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/10/2010 9:52:25 AM, Reasoning wrote:
Libertarianism is not right-wing, it is left-wing.

No. It is right-wing. Economics is left-right. Social issues are north-south. Libertarianism is south-right. Except, of course, for left-libertarians. But it was not left-libertarians I was mentioning.
JBlake
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12/10/2010 10:53:20 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/10/2010 10:14:14 AM, innomen wrote:

Another plus to the multi-party system is that change can occur at a faster pace. The pace of change in the U.S. is almost zero.

As for percentage of public support...
Parties in a multi-party system are forced to build a coalition with another party. The terms of the coalition re constantly being re-negotiated. This assures that more views are expressed in public discourse. This is in stark contrast to the U.S. two-party system. The parties are secure in their smaller "party" support, because those smaller parties are built into the larger party. They don't need to keep them happy because the two-party system ensures that these smaller "parties" will not break away from the larger ones. And they can't break away, because it is almost impossible to get a real third party under the electoral system that we have.
innomen
Posts: 10,052
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12/10/2010 10:57:19 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/10/2010 10:45:46 AM, JBlake wrote:
At 12/10/2010 10:14:14 AM, innomen wrote:

Glad to see you back JBlake.

I had a major turn around on this issue because of the "big tent" that you mentioned. I think that the inevitable outcome is more of voting for a man than a party. Whereas, multi-party systems are more dedicated to the party platform than the representative that has been chosen as their leader. A leader will emerge from such an environment rather than a party rep.

Also, our leaders are elected by a majority, or a near majority because of the two party system, which i believe is better for a country like ours. Whereas a president who wins with a total vote percentage of 32 or perhaps less will command with diminished support and substance in the public arena.

Although i abhor party politics and always urge people to register as an independent, a two party system as we have is probably the lesser of evils.

Thanks, it's good to be back. :)

I agree with your first point 100%. The U.S. system is designed to vote or an individual, not a party platform. That is not necessarily a good thing. At least with the party platform you know for certain what you are getting (because of party discipline in such systems, there is pressure to generally conform).

You make some good points that are generally true. However, I disagree with your conclusion. The problem is that it only appears as though the president (or any elected figure, really) is governing with majority support. But when there are only two parties, obviously this is what will result. Many of the voters are voting against the other guy as much as for the candidate. If you take that into account, it would probably be a similar percentage of the population in support as with a multi-party system. At least with a multi-party system more people get their views directly represented.

I think it the lesser of two evils. The other alternative is no party, and they never win, it's like going to war with no army. So you are left with a party system that might result in a voting against the guy you really don't like (two party system), but in a multi party system, i don't see how having a (possibly or likely, small) minority of people completely satisfied with a sizable number (likely majority) completely dissatisfied is better than having a large number somewhat satisfied. Not sure if that was coherent.
Reasoning
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12/10/2010 11:00:01 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/10/2010 10:47:44 AM, JBlake wrote:
At 12/10/2010 9:52:25 AM, Reasoning wrote:
Libertarianism is not right-wing, it is left-wing.

No. It is right-wing. Economics is left-right. Social issues are north-south. Libertarianism is south-right.

Libertarianism is south-left.
"What we really ought to ask the liberal, before we even begin addressing his agenda, is this: In what kind of society would he be a conservative?" - Joseph Sobran
JBlake
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12/10/2010 11:03:43 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/10/2010 11:00:01 AM, Reasoning wrote:
At 12/10/2010 10:47:44 AM, JBlake wrote:
At 12/10/2010 9:52:25 AM, Reasoning wrote:
Libertarianism is not right-wing, it is left-wing.

No. It is right-wing. Economics is left-right. Social issues are north-south. Libertarianism is south-right.

Libertarianism is south-left.

No... one of the major tenets of libertarianism is the free-market. The freer the market, the further right the philosophy. Thus, libertarian is far-right. Government intervention in the economy is on the left. Left libertarians allow for some intervention, thusly the term "left-libertarian."

Stop being stubborn. You are wrong.
werbenjagermanjensen
Posts: 156
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12/10/2010 11:08:42 AM
Posted: 5 years ago
At 12/9/2010 2:30:05 PM, charleslb wrote:
If you still have any long-suffering belief in the system left then here's one to make you scratch your head, how the heck is it that our vaunted democracy has come to be a mere two party system? How is it that all of the political, philosophical, and cultural diversity of America has been collapsed into a choice between "Republicans" and "Democrats"? Is such a limiting of our options to these two mainstream political machines really consistent with the self-image of American democracy?

Now, this is the story all about how
My life got flipped-turned upside down
And I'd like to take a minute
Just sit right there
I'll tell you how I became the prince of a town called Bel Air

In west Philadelphia born and raised
On the playground was where I spent most of my days
Chillin' out maxin' relaxin' all cool
And all shootin some b-ball outside of school
When a couple of guys
Who were up to no good
Startin making trouble in my neighborhood
I got in one little fight and my mom got scared
She said 'You're movin' with your auntie and uncle in Bel Air'

I begged and pleaded with her day after day
But she packed my suite case and sent me on my way
She gave me a kiss and then she gave me my ticket.
I put my walkman on and said, 'I might as well kick it'.

First class, yo this is bad
Drinking orange juice out of a champagne glass.
Is this what the people of Bel-Air living like?
Hmmmmm this might be alright.

But wait, I hear the prissy, booze, whine, all that
Is this the type of place that they should send this cool cat?
I don't think so
I'll see when I get there
I hope they're prepared for the prince of Bel-Air

Well uh, the plane landed and when I came out
There was a dude who looked like a cop standing there with my name out
I ain't trying to get arrested yet.
I just got here!
I sprang with the quickness, like lightening disappeared

I whistled for a cab and when it came near
The license plate said fresh and it had dice in the mirror
If anything I can say is that this cab was rare
But I thought 'Man forget it' - 'Yo home to Bel Air'

I pulled up to the house about seven or eight
And I yelled to the cabbie 'Yo homes smell ya later'
I looked to my kingdom
I was finally there
To sit on my throne as the Prince of Bel Air
: At 12/10/2010 9:58:26 PM, mattrodstrom wrote:
: lovelife's cool.

Insert statement that I wrote myself here. Cuz sigging your own words is cool!

Jannah Ta'alumah (Mitchell)