Saturday, August 06, 2016

We can't vote our way out of the 2 party system—It will take change!

By SJ Otto
This article is mostly for the benefit of the "Bernie or Bust" Crowd. It seems as if a lot of millennials, and some folks who are a little older than that but hold the same ideas, need to understand the history of the Democratic Party and the 2 party system.
Those of us involved in the system, for the last 40 years or more, realize the system is rigged. It always has been. The Democratic Party has been a bourgeois party for almost all of its history. At times it has absorbed some of the more progressive aspects of our society, such as labor unions and abortion rights activists. But the party has rarely been liberal and it has never really been socialist (democratic or any other kind). The Democratic Party goes all the way back to Thomas Jefferson.[1] It did provide us with President Franklin Delano Roosevelt and his many liberal reforms. It did give us President Lyndon Baines Johnson, who gave us social welfare programs and civil rights legislation. It gave us Presidential Candidate George McGovern, the anti-war  would-be-president. But those are just a few high points for a very bourgeois party that rarely goes more than center left to center right. At worst we had the 1968 Democratic Convention in Chicago, where riots broke out in the street. Anti-war activist tried in vain to influence the Democratic Party and its candidate.
McGovern was never really supposed to be a presidential candidate. As with Sanders, the party didn't want him to run. But he got nominated anyway. That lead to such absurdities as Democrats for Nixon (party hacks for President Richard M Nixon). That is why we now have super delegates.
It should surprise no one that the DNC did not want Bernie Sanders to win. He was not really Democratic Party material. Sanders probably knew this all along. But his supporters didn't. Many are young. Many are new to politics. Many did not know what activists as myself knew all along—
that the Democratic Party establishment (including the DNC) opposed Sanders and would do all in their power to stop him.
I have heard a lot of complaints from friends about the 2 party system. They complain that we don't get decent choices. We end up with "the lesser of two evils." They are right. This system has been in existence since the US was founded. The 2 party system is deeply entrenched. The two main parties are institutionalized. We have primaries set up for them. They keep other parties out of the debates. The mainstream press automatically goes along with the 2 party set up. They just don't cover other races. I agree with all the complaints. The 2 party system is just one party away from a 1 party system. And I don't think most Americans really want just one party. But to change all of that we need to change the system. The problem is that many millennials, young people and the inexperienced, think they can just vote their way out of the 2 party system. They can't.
Sanders did well in the primaries and that is extraordinary considering how much the establishment was against him. The millennials have made a huge difference in this electoral round of elections. They seem not to understand that a movement such as Sanders can't possibly win in just one election cycle. Most people and pundits probably figured that Sanders might get 20 to 25 percent of the vote. They never dreamed he might almost win. The DNC probably felt assured they would give this election to Hillary Clinton and were shocked that Sanders almost took it from her.
Normally Party insiders decide who they want to win and they make it happen. These decision often get challenged by a candidate, but rarely is that challenge substantial. This time it was.
But the less experienced voters, those who now make up the "Bernie or Bust" people seem to believe they can still get what they want. I have heard some young people say "if they finally kick Hillary out of the race, then maybe they will put Bernie in." They won't—under any circumstances. Even if Hillary has to drop out of the race, there is no real chance that the Democratic Party will put Bernie in. They just won't.
For those who don't want to vote for Hillary, there are the third party candidates. Under our electoral collage they have NO chance of winning. Two of the main rivals of the 2 party system are the Libertarian Party and the Green Party. Those of us who live in Kansas know full well what the Libertarians want to do to us. And those who believe the Greens are the closest thing to Bernie Sanders' socialism need to think again. The Greens are a bourgeois party that wants to reform capitalism. They favor some progressive issues, such as a national health care program and liveable wages. But they are not socialist at all. These parties may be good for a protest vote, but they will not effect the election at all.
There are those who insist we should vote even in a year when the candidates are this bad, such as Lisa Heffernan, a columnist who wrote recently;

So, millennials, about those reasons you don’t vote:
You don’t like the candidates? You don’t think there is anyone worth voting for. Got news for you kidlettes: We grown-ups often feel that way, too. Just look at the polls. It doesn’t matter if you don’t love the candidates. Someone is going to get elected. Democracy gives us a choice; no one ever said it was the perfect choice.
You don’t feel you have much at stake? You have no kids, no mortgage and, in some cases, no job. Again, do I need to remind you? Here is what is at stake: the future. Your future. The future of your children. Not to put too fine a point on it, but the people who do vote — your parents, your grandparents — we won’t even be around to see if we got it right. So don’t give me your excuses.

I would go one step further than her; we need to change the 2 party system. At the very least we need a multi-party system that lets other political parties compete in elections. We need to get rid of "winner takes all" and the electoral college. That can't be done in one election cycle. It will take a lot of hard work. A lot of people like this system. There are the corrupted in and out of the system—They like how it works. It works for THEM.
But we can't just vote our way out of the 2 party system. We need to make serious changes and we need a political movement to make that happen. So beside voting, we need to start making change. We can start right away. We will need patience. It will take time. But if you are young or a Millennial you have the time.

In 1968 the Democratic Party was torn apart by the Vietnam War.

[1] The party was originally called the Democratic-Republican Party. It was tied to the Republican movement of Europe, a movement for capitalism against feudalism. After some time the name Republican was dropped. The party originally formed in opposition to the Federalist Party. Over the years the party changed directions and ideology many times. Wikipedia, Democratic-Republican Party.

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