It wasn’t the first time, and it won’t be the last time, but yesterday I was ashamed to be a registered member of the Democratic Party. Not only was it the tenth anniversary of the invasion and occupation of Iraq, which more than half of all Senate Democrats along with 81 House Democrats supported, but it was also a day when the Democratic Party handed the National Rifle Association its biggest victory this year without even putting up a fight.
I’m not simply referring to the fact that Harry Reid has decided to pull the Feinstein section of the Senate gun control bill that intend to ban 157 different military-style weapons, I’m also talking about the broad flaccidity of the Democrats on this issue — flaccidity all across the board, from activists to financiers to to the president to the party apparatus itself, the likes of which were on display ten years ago when too many Democrats endorsed the ill-fated crusade into Iraq.
Let’s start with Reid himself. Once again, Reid’s well-earned Droopy Dog caricature reemerged and allowed the majority party in the Senate to be steamrolled, not just by the Republicans and the NRA, but by at least 15 members of his own party — 15 Democrats, including Reid himself, have refused support a new assault weapons ban. It’s no secret that Reid is one of many congressional Democrats who’s sympathetic to the NRA, and the NRA has returned the favor with a friendly “B” grade for Droopy, signifying “a generally pro-gun candidate; may have opposed some pro-gun reform in the past.”
Reid said, “I’m not going to try to put something on the floor that won’t succeed. I want something that will succeed. I think the worst of all worlds would be to bring something to the floor and it dies there.”
So right off the bat, we’re not going to get an assault weapons ban, even with the most horrifying massacre since September 11 as the backdrop. But, worse, we’re not even going to get the completely ineffectual symbolic vote on the ban — a vote which the president demanded during what might’ve been the most emotional section of a State of the Union address in many years. Reid could very easily bring Feinstein’s bill to the floor as its own piece of legislation and offer it up for a futile symbolic vote, thus putting the biggest Wayne LaPierre fanboys on record opposing a ban on weapons that are solely designed to hunt people and nothing else, but he won’t do that.
Ten years ago, most of the Senate Democrats were more than willing to sign their name to the biggest foreign policy blunder in the history of the United States, primarily due to pressure from the Bush/Rove/Cheney White House which accused the Democrats of being weak on terrorism, but also because of the ongoing shellshock and post-traumatic stress of September 11. (Technically, the Iraq Authorization for Use of Military Force was signed in October, 2002.) What can we gather from the disparity between voting for the war and against the assault weapons ban, each vote following on the heels of a national tragedy? Obviously, Democrats are more willing to vote for a misguided war than to prevent the proliferation of weapons of war.
This distinction is arguably the prime mover of the American gun culture. Our elected representatives — even the representatives of the liberal party — are all too willing to assist in authorizing roid-raging deadly force as a means of resolving problems. I would suggest that American warfare, and the willing participation of our elected leaders, is considerably more influential than nearly anything else when it comes to armed citizens resolving their own issues by similar gunfire. Ten years ago, and, in fact, throughout the history of the United States, exuberant warmongering has been a tragic measure of American patriotism. Strangely, and according to many historians, the 2nd Amendment was intended as a means of patriotic defense of the country, yet the people who self-identify as the most patriotic Americans have misappropriated the 2nd Amendment as a means of defense against the government — the government that we were forcefully commanded to unconditionally support during the lead-up to Iraq.
Here we are, ten years later, Democrats — commemorating an unnecessary war in Iraq by continuing to allow gun fetishists to purchase unnecessary weapons of war. And, ten years later, the Democratic Party has been entirely incapable of standing firm against either. Tens of thousands of American casualties in Iraq, and far too many casualties at the point of military assault weapons inside our schools, malls and theaters. Here’s to hoping the Democrats take a good look at various state legislators who are doing the heavy-lifting on gun control — not only for tactical advice against the Republicans but also to get a sense of who might be next in line for their posts.
(With apologies to Droopy Dog.)
Gawker’s mysteriously anonymous ‘Mobutu Sese Seko’ reminds jubilant Democrats and the liberal media not to proclaim the GOP dead just yet:
There’s a time for champagne, though, and that’s election night. After that, reality sticks its head in the tent, and there’s no bigger or more relevant buzzkill than 2008. In that election, Democrats won both houses of congress, including a senate supermajority, and the presidency. Not only did they defeat a “war hero” and a hot lady, they did so with a goofy older guy who looks like he goes to sleep with a UV light in his mouth to lighten his CRELM TOOTHPASTE gleam—and also a black dude. It seemed as if there couldn’t be a bigger repudiation of the Republican Party and its ethos. Democrats were in charge of everything but the judiciary, riding the high of electing the hitherto racially unelectable.
Two years later, the Democrats had lost the house and significant gubernatorial races, introducing the country to men like Scott Walker or the preposterous mantis-creature Rick Scott—the biggest Medicare fraudster in history, who ran on a platform of government somehow hindering wealth creation, despite all the things he billed it for. The inevitability of Obama’s new leftist ascendancy was crushed by the election of someone like Allen West, basically a whackjob authoritarian-sexting Iraqi torturer whose voice programming got stuck for two years on a “HitlerHitlerHitlerHitler” loop.
The argument is a solid one, but it should also be remembered that the economy was falling off a cliff in 2008 giving Republicans quite a lot of wiggle room to pin some of the blame on Obama. This time around the economy is on the up and the Republicans are in the beginning of what looks to be a civil war between the moderates and the hard Right. Extremists only get attention in times of economic hardship, and as long as the economy keeps picking up jobs, the crazies won’t be anywhere near as relevant.
Having said that, the Democrats should not rest on their laurels and assume long term victory. The Republicans have been brilliant at negotiating in the past, forcing concessions from Obama before talks have even begun. We’re about to witness the big ‘fiscal cliff’ negotiations and it’s probably best to see what the Democrats are able to walk away with before dismissing the Republicans as an irrelevant party of the past.
A bit late posting today as I’ve been traveling, but wanted to weigh in on Bill Clinton’s speech last night at the Democratic convention. As cynical as I am about politics, there’s always a part of me that respects the all time greats – the politicians with a God given talent to connect with voters and convey their ideas with clarity and vision. Bill Clinton is one of those politicians, and last night, he put on a great, great performance. Clinton’s folksy charm literally oozed onto the audience and they lapped it up.
Clinton reeled off facts about the economy, facts about jobs, facts about healthcare, facts about the military, facts about infrastructure, facts about Republican math and facts about Democratic math, weaving a compelling narrative about the choice voters face this election. Clinton laid out the differences between the two party’s philosophies and accused the Republicans of going completely off the rails with their militancy. He presented Obama as a unifying President and the only serious candidate this election. Clinton paid homage to Obama’s consistent attempts to reach out to Republicans and slammed the Republicans for doing the opposite.
Clinton summed up the Republican argument for a Romney President as follows: “We left him a total mess, he hadn’t cleaned it up fast enough so fire him and put us back in.”
Clinton retold the history of Obama’s Presidency thus far, arguing that he faced one of the worst economic situations any President has in history and has responsibly tried to get the country back on track. While Clinton admitted that the country was far from OK, the evidence was clear that the country was in better shape now than when he first got into office.
Clinton’s defense of Obamacare was also compelling – he praised the President for passing a comprehensive health care package, detailing the enormous benefits people would gain from it, then ripped into Republicans for their promise to repeal it once in power. The former President talked about the real world effects of destroying the progress on healthcare and argued that it would have disastrous effects on the poor.
It was of course a political speech – one sided and inherently dishonest as all political speeches are, but it contained a very basic truth – that it would be madness to vote out a President who still believes in the power of government to do good and elect a business man whose sole aim would be to destroy what is left of government.
The choice to have Clinton speak so prominently was a wise decision by the Democrats. While Obama is a better speaker than Clinton, he doesn’t quite have Clinton’s ability to connect with regular people – and that is exactly what the President needs right now. The entire Democratic convention has stood in stark contrast to the Republican one. The Republicans presented a cold, soulless vision for America based on individualism and fantasy economics, while the Democrats have presented a inclusive vision for the country based on sound math and good government. “We simply cannot afford to give the reins of power to someone who will double down on trickle down,” said Clinton.
And therein lies the argument.
I watched as much of the first day of the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina as I could stomach, and was left with the following thoughts.
1. As always, it was a slick marketing campaign under the guise of a political convention. We heard sound byte after sound byte, skilfully edited video clips with emotional appeals to various Democratic demographics and a lot of idol worship. The whole thing was a gigantic advertisement for Barack Obama devoid of serious substance, not a serious political platform.
2. Not sure if I’m alone here, but I wasn’t blown away with the supposed rising star of the convention Julian Castro. I thought his speech was pretty dull and formulaic, and gushing over his mother in public was pretty cringe worthy (sorry, I’m British – we don’t do that kind of stuff). I really don’t like the way the media labels any ethnic candidate with semi decent oratorical skills as ‘the one to watch’. Ever since Obama propelled onto the national scene, they’ve done this with politicians like Bobby Jindal, Richard Steele, and Cory Booker. It’s pretty offensive and condescending if you ask me – politicians should be judged on their ability, not their ethnicity. And to be frank, I didn’t think Castro was particularly good. Perhaps he’ll get better with time, but he’s no Bill Clinton or Barack Obama.
3. While Michelle Obama’s speech was excellent, it was again another well designed piece of emotional trickery in order to sell Barack Obama the man and brand rather than the actual politician. Politician’s back stories should not be of serious interest to anyone concerned about the state of the country – they should care about their policies.
1. Regardless of my cynicism, the Democrats did a much better job than the Republicans did. The event was extremely energetic, well presented and well run. And as Chez Pazienza noted, “The Democrats went out there last night and looked like a party on top of the world. They were focused, energized, determined — and at the same time they seemed as if they were offering the truly American vision that their political adversaries seemed to have a monopoly on for so long.”
2. While they were short on substance, the overall theme was pretty clear – Mitt Romney is running for the rich, and President Obama is running for every day Americans. Sure, this isn’t technically true as both candidates won’t tamper with a system rigged to benefit the rich, but there is a difference between the candidates and the Democrats are marking their territory there. The stories told by Michelle Obama and Julian Castro are in stark contrast to Mitt Romney’s upbringing of extreme privilege, and the Democrats are right to hammer the point home that Romney really hasn’t got a clue.
3. Former Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland had the best one liner I’ve heard in many months: “If Mitt was Santa Claus, he’d fire the reindeer and outsource the elves.”
The Daily Banter Headline Grab (via Yahoo News!):
CHARLOTTE, N.C.—In a speech that instantly invoked comparisons to Barack Obama’s star-making turn at the 2004 Democratic National Convention, San Antonio Mayor Julian Castro invoked his personal story as the descendent of Mexican immigrants to press the case that Mitt Romney “just doesn’t get it” when it comes to the struggles of average Americans.
Castro, the first Latino to deliver the DNC keynote, spoke of the “unlikely journey” that led him from a poor upbringing in Texas to a rising star of the Democratic party. He talked about his grandmother, an orphan, who immigrated to the United States and dropped out of school in the fourth grade to work and support her family.
She barely scraped by, Castro said, but did what it took to give his mother a better life. She, in turn, gave him and his twin brother, Joaquin, a Texas congressional candidate, a better life too.
“My family’s story isn’t special. What’s special is the America that makes our story possible. Ours is a nation like no other, a place where great journeys can be made in a single generation,” Castro said. “No matter who you are or where you come from, the path is always forward.”
But echoing other speakers during the first night of the DNC, Castro argued that the path would not be “forward” if Romney is elected. He accused the former Massachusetts governor of being out of touch with average Americans.
Making reference to Romney’s status as the son of a former Michigan governor and auto industry executive, Castro called Romney a “good guy” but said “he just has no idea how good he’s had it.”
By Bob Cesca: I’ve been following politics for most of my life, and while I’ve always felt energized by the potential and history of liberal policy-making, I’ve never felt like my chosen party reflected that energy or lived up to my expectations for it. Frankly, the Democrats have tended to disappoint more than they’ve impressed, and I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Evidently Deval Patrick has, too. More on that presently.
The party has struggled to shake an almost sleepy, flustered attitude, more interested in the noble even strain than the passionate barn burning many of us have wanted it to be. It’s been disorganized, crumpled, fumbly and hopelessly off message — almost out of breath — and all too willing to fearfully bend over backwards to avoid saying anything that might incite a counterattack from the other side.
But the Democratic Party on display last night is decidedly a brand new Democratic Party, if not in substance, almost certainly in style. The line-up of speakers presented on the first day of the convention was an extraordinary breath of fresh air — and a much needed shot of enthusiasm and electricity. Throughout the proceedings, I literally kept thinking to myself, what the hell party is hosting this convention because it certainly doesn’t sound like the Democrats of four, eight or twelve years ago? Who are these people? They’re razor sharp; they’re unafraid to seize the initiative and stick it to the Republican nominee; they’re energized; they’re inspired; and, chiefly, they sound strong. Surely they can’t be Democrats.
The Democrats never used to sound that way. Even when John Kerry opened his 2004 acceptance speech with the line, “I’m John Kerry reporting for duty!” it sounded desperate — it sounded like, “I’m John Kerry and I’m trying really, really hard to sound badass but I’m not.” Sure, it was a nod to his Vietnam service, but it landed with thud mainly because the rest of his speech was entirely forgettable in both tone and content. Come to think of it, whenever the party used to feel a little too spineless and defensive, it would simply mimick the style and policies of the Republicans. But the Republicans have always been effective at telling American voters what they stand for, and so you’d think somewhere along the line (prior to this week) the Democrats would get a clue and do the same: to unapologetically stand up for Democratic and liberal values.
Last night, the Democratic Party was, for the first time in memory, boldly and fearlessly related its core values — what it stands for, without attempting to trick Americans into thinking its merely the Republican Party With A Heart. Finally, one speaker after another — from Ted Strickland to Deval Patrick to the First Lady — described what it means to be a liberal, and they did it in a way that resonated as the obvious reflection of American middle and working class values.
Of course none of this would be possible without world-class speeches, one after another, with hardly a dud in the batch.
The most surprising address was Lilly Ledbetter, the woman behind the fair pay law, who, if you were only listening to the convention, could easily have been mistaken for the legendary former governor of Texas Ann Richards. She also had one of the most memorable lines about how 23 cents, the difference in pay per dollar between men and women, doesn’t mean much to someone with “a Swiss bank account.”
Former governor of Ohio Ted Strickland was clearly the most loud and forceful of the speakers, and even though not every beat was a hit, we need more of this kind of, well, shouting. Democrats fancy themselves to be intellectual and therefore raising our voices is somehow tasteless. Nonsense. Democrats don’t always have to yell, but sometimes it’s the best way to lend fire to the cause. Strickland, who delivered his barn-burner with a devilish smile, was the only speaker to accuse Mitt Romney of “lying,” and of “hiding” his financial history. He also attacked “Mitt” directly and relentlessly with lines underscoring Romney’s elitist wealthy tax dogdes, “Mitt has so little economic patriotism, that even his money needs a passport — it’s summers on the beaches of the Cayman Islands and winters on the slopes of the Swiss Alps.”
San Antonio, Texas Mayor Julian Castro will surely become a household name after his keynote not just because of the efficacy of his address, but also the fact that in both age and ethnicity he, like the president, looks like America’s demographic future. He’ll almost certainly going to be a serious presidential contender in the coming decades. Unlike Chris Christie’s baffling speech about “love versus respect” with barely a mention of Romney, Castro effectively wove his personal story with a pitch for the president’s record in even doses.
What can I say — the First Lady’s speech was arguably one of the great political addresses in Democratic history. In and amongst the personal stories of her life with the president and her struggles to raise her daughters, she also delivered a gut punch to Mitt Romney’s issues with tax returns, tax shelters and the serial mendacity of his campaign: “We learned about honesty and integrity. That the truth matters. That you don’t take shortcuts or play by your own set of rules, and success doesn’t count unless you earn it fair and square.”
Massachusetts governor Deval Patrick’s speech was easily the second best of the night, though I wish he had swapped places with the mostly forgettable Martin O’Malley speech and appeared in the 10 p.m. network coverage hour. More than anyone else, Patrick represented the exact tone I’m talking about here. Bold, fearless, oratorically powerful and inspiring. The only “problem” with Patrick’s address was this line: “It’s time for Democrats to grow a backbone and stand up for what we believe.” While I absolutely agree, I think the line was a few days too late. The Democratic Party that appeared in Charlotte last night boasted a massive backbone reinforced with indestructible adamantium.
Now the challenge will be to build on this momentum through the next two nights.
Adding… Some additional thoughts. Wishful thinking but I hope the Democrats re-air the Ted Kennedy video footage from his 1994 senatorial debate against Mitt Romney sometime during the 10 p.m. network television time slot. In the video, after Romney swears that he’s pro-choice, Kennedy turned to Romney and replied, “Mitt Romney isn’t pro-choice. He’s multiple choice.” Brilliant line. I also like the personal story of the family whose young daughter, Stacy, is directly benefiting from the Affordable Care Act’s elimination of lifetime limits on insurance benefits. Without Obamacare, this family would’ve used up their designated lifetime coverage amount and lost their health insurance. The Democrats need to continue to illustrate the real world advantages of Obamacare and seriously own the law. It will only help them in the long run.
The Daily Banter Headline Grab (via The Huffington Post):
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The Democratic Party unveiled its formal 2012 platform on Monday night. And like its Republican counterpart, it is heavy on broad philosophical strokes about the direction in which the party wants to take the country, short on policy specifics and carefully worded on some of the more contentious issues.
It also is peppered with numerous shots at Mitt Romney, none more so than on the issue of insourcing.
“The Democratic Party believes in insourcing so that America can out-build the rest of the world again,” the platform reads. “We want to cut tax breaks for companies that are shipping jobs overseas and for special interests, and instead offer tax breaks to companies that are investing right here in the United States of America, betting on American workers who are making American products we sell to the world that are stamped with three proud words: Made in America.”
“But the Republican Party has nominated a man whose firm invested in companies that were pioneers of outsourcing — and whose plans would actually encourage outsourcing by eliminating all taxes on the foreign profits of U.S. companies,” it adds, for some partisan measure.
It is, in short, a political document. But one worth reading, if only to get a sense of where the party wants to position itself heading into the final weeks of the 2012 campaign.
James Kwak laments the ever rightwards shifting debate on economics in America:
The fact that Simpson-Bowles—which uses its mandate of deficit reduction to call for . . . lower tax rates?—has become widely perceived as a centrist starting-point for discussion is clear evidence of how far to the right the inside-the-Beltway discourse has shifted, both over time and relative to the preferences of the population as a whole.
What’s more, the “consensus” of the self-styled “centrists” is what now makes the Bush tax cuts of 2001 and 2003 seem positively reasonable. With Simpson-Bowles and Domenici-Rivlin both calling for tax rates below those established in 2001, George W. Bush now looks like a moderate; even many Democrats now endorse the Bush tax cuts for families making up to $250,000 per year, which is still a lot of money (for most people, at least).
Kwak blames the Democrats in part for failing to articulate an argument or plan on “how to deal with our long-term debt problem in a way that preserves government services and social insurance programs and protects the poor and the middle class”. This couldn’t be more true – the Left has been appalling when it comes to presenting their economic agenda and everyone has suffered as a result. The fact that the stimulus is basically working should be enough for the Left to come out swinging, but what you get is apologetic whimpering whenever a Republican starts to lecture them on economics. It’s pretty lame, and the Democrats need to really take control of this issue particularly in an election year when the economy is still in the doldrums.
Welcome to this week’s edition of The Daily Banter Mail Bag!! Today, Bob, Ben and Chez answer reader’s questions on Obama’s chances of re-election during bad economic times, the recall fiasco in Wisconsin, and whether we’d vote for a third party candidate.
I’m really starting to panic now. I know the economy isn’t in free fall, but every little bit of bad news about jobs etc is another nail in the coffin for Obama’s Presidency. How does Obama beat Romney under these conditions? It’s never been done before with unemployment numbers like this.
Bob: Don’t panic! There was one month of lower-than-expected job creation. Still, 69,000 jobs were created and unemployment only went up by one-tenth of one percent. Last August, the economy only created 52,000 jobs and we’re all still here. Meanwhile, there’s this from my column this week: GDP is growing steadily. Jobs are being added every month. Unemployment is slowly declining (with a few blips along the trendline). The deficit is shrinking. Middle and working class taxes are lower. Inflation is nearly an entire percentage point below the average that began in the middle 1920s (long term average is 3.43%, while our current rate is 2.3% and dropping). The price of oil dropped below $90 last week and stockpiles are huge — the highest level in 22 years. New home sales are up by 10 percent over a year ago. Moody’s Analytics is calling this a “genuine rebound” in housing and mortgage rates remain tantalizingly low. Consumer debt is declining and corporate profits — despite the president’s false reputation as a profit-hating commie — are nearly double what they were in the boom times of 1999. 9.75 percent at the end of 2011, compared with 5.7 percent in the final quarter of 1999. The Dow has doubled since the deepest, darkest days of the Great Recession and some analysts suggest that the DJIA should be around 20,000, not 13,000, given all of these positive indicators. Now, if the Obama campaign can make this pitch successfully, they can win. But it’s up to Democrats everywhere to make the pitch, too.
Chez: The end isn’t nigh just yet. There are still a few more jobs reports left before the election and things can certainly improve. The important thing, though, is going to be for the Democrats to get off their asses and get better about controlling the narrative. The fact is that things are improving, albeit slowly, and they’d improve much faster if we hadn’t had decades of Republican and Republican-style economics to crash the whole thing in the first place and the past few years of GOP sabotage in an effort to make Obama look bad and hopefully win back the White House. President Obama is still very popular — and Mitt Romney is anything but in most circles — but the Democrats will have to learn to take the reins, come up with some strong talking points, stay on message and fight if they want to pull this thing out regardless of state of the economy.
Ben: I’m going to say worry – and worry a lot. I know there are some positive trends happening with the economy – it is actually growing (albeit very slowly), and jobs are being created rather than destroyed, but it isn’t anything to get excited about. The Euro Zone crisis is very serious and if Greece or Spain exits, we could see another gigantic world wide recession that would put Obama’s chances of re-election into serious doubt. I hope that the Democrats operate on the basis that the economy is going to get worse and find a way of pinning all the blame on the Republicans. That’s the only way they are going to pull it off in a worse case scenario, but they’ll need to hammer home the message with Rovian efficiency. The Democrats are pretty awful at controlling the narrative and always allow the Republicans to define the debate. It does look like Obama is going out of his way to reverse that trend, but he’ll need to get down and dirty if he wants to make it stick. This year is all about going negative on the Republicans, so prepare for a nasty slug fest.
What did you guys think about Wisconsin? Walker is a douche no doubt, but he was democratically elected and I think he deserved to see out his term.
Ben: Hi Martin, I wrote a piece about this earlier this week. I argued that while having a recall was a politically dangerous and risky move, Scott Walker’s affront to organized labor was so serious that it was definitely warranted. Unions have taken a horrendous beating over the past 30 years in America, with membership at its lowest in seven decades. Workers enjoy less rights in America than in any other OECD nation, and further attacks on them simply cannot be tolerated. Walker is an extremist dedicated to reversing decades of hard fought for rights, and he deserved everything he got in Wisconsin. t
Bob: I disagree about “deserved to see out his term.” We were out-hustled. That, and we ran a candidate opposing him who had already lost. Democrats self-destructing once again. The real lesson here is that we need to find a way to counter-attack all of the Super PACs and wealthy financiers who are bankrolling these campaigns now that the Supreme Court further corporatized the electoral process. This is the challenge of our generation: to reverse or, at least, to mitigate the corrosive effect of unlimited money in politics. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a Republican or Democrat. Citizens United was a disaster of epic proportions, and we’re only seeing the beginning of its cancer on our representative democracy.
Chez: I’ve actually always had an issue with the idea of recalling an elected official. I think it should only be done under the most extreme of circumstances. Yeah, I dislike Scott Walker immensely, but the constant push to overturn the will of the people will only end in disaster. We’re so divided right now as a country that I get the feeling we’re going to see more and more recall attempts and while maybe we thought Walker should go, the GOP is always going to be more likely to try to unseat somebody it doesn’t like because, as we’ve seen, Republicans tend to think that anybody other than them in a seat of power is illegitimate, regardless of what the electorate may have chosen of its own volition. If elected officials always fear for their jobs they can’t govern properly for anyone — and constantly pushing to recall leaders we disagree with will only lead to chaos.
What do you think about a 3rd political party? The Republicans are insane, but it’s not like the Democrats are significantly better. If there was a serious alternative candidate that had a legit shot, would you vote for him/her?
Chez: Eventually there may be a viable third party. There isn’t right now and a vote for one of the ones currently in existence is a fucking waste. Best to keep your eye on the ball.
Bob: No. I made that mistake already in 2000 when I stupidly voted for Ralph Nader — the biggest mistake I’ve every made in my political life. Why? Because it meant nothing other than to take a vote away from Al Gore who probably could have used it. Besides, third parties can’t really win at the presidential level — not with the electoral college. And you know what? Good! It’s not very populist to write this, but I actually like the two party system. It maintains relative consistency in government, and our leadership is generally able to govern with majority support. Do we really want a multi-party system in which someone who was elected with a 20 percent plurality to make decisions impacting over 300 million people (and more, if you count our role on the world stage)? The best thing we can do is to put forth the effort to change the parties to our liking, and this requires going door-to-door (figuratively and literally) to convince voters that what we have to say is best for the nation. That’s how we get conservadems to vote our way. That’s how we elect more progressives. Taking our toys and marching off to a dinky third party is a waste of time and effort amounting to nothing.
Ben: Generally speaking, I think a serious third political party in America would be a good thing. If you look at the big picture, there is little substantive difference between the Republicans and the Democrats – both parties have been corrupted by corporate interests, and actual policy is virtually identical (the argument over tax rates comes down to a couple of percent either way, and both parties have a record of aggressive foreign policy). I’d love to see a different vision for the country not based on serving the needs of the ultra wealthy. Having said that, in today’s climate the small differences between the two major parties literally means the survival of the country. The two or three percent difference in the tax code means having enough money to pay for children’s education, to ensure roads are maintained and the deficit can be paid down responsibly. Democrats at least believe ideologically in the role of government, whereas the Republicans don’t. When you have highly volatile financial markets, having a rational government is crucial to maintain some sort of stability – Democrats provide that and Republicans aren’t interested in the slightest. For that reason, I’d ignore any third party right now and focus on keeping adults in government, however bad they might be.
Got a question for the team? Please write to TheDailyBanter@gmail.com and we’ll do our best to answer!