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The Control of Parties and the Rise and Fall of Ideologies

2017 January 24

All political parties have ideological beliefs. If it seems a party does not, it generally means they accept the status quo (invisible as an ideology) or they are a cult of personality, which is still an ideological position.

(Originally published May 19, 2015. Back to the top. This is why the attacks on Sanders are so vicious. – Ian.)

For those who hold an ideological position which does not control the current majority party, the job is to keep a party firmly in an alternative ideology.

In first-past-the-post systems, there are often two or three parties which are viable. In most places with real democracy, parties do not have more than two or three terms, then the public grows tired of them and votes for the second party.

If your ideology controls the second party, odds are strong you will eventually wind up in power, simply due to public fatigue with the current party.

Therefore your job, as a left-winger, right-winger, or whatever, is to keep control of that party. This takes precedence over winning the most immediate election. Winning by becoming a lite version of the other ideology does not serve you. Having the second (or every) party be neo-liberal is not in the interests of anyone but neo-liberals.

If you are the first party, of course, it is your job to make it so that the second party (and however many other parties there are, if possible) accept the postulates of your ideology. As many have noted, Margaret Thatcher was not successful so much because of her policies, but because Labour came to adopt her policies as well, just somewhat watered down.

There is no alternative

– Margaret Thatcher

Now, what was said about second parties is true of third parties and so on, all the way down. The New Democratic Party (socialist, labor-based) came from virtually nowhere in Alberta to win because they still existed. They will be able to raise corporate taxes and so on because they remained true to some socialist principles. Though I have grave disagreements with Syriza, they are in power because they still exist and came out strongly against austerity. They could have watered that down–and they would have been in power sooner.

The Communist Party in Greece, castigated by many for not joining Syriza, was correct not to do so: They did not believe that Syriza would do what was necessary, or what they believed in, so they did not join.

The Liberal Democrats in England killed themselves by joining the Tories as a minority partner. They gave in to almost everything the Conservatives wanted, and, as a result, were seen as “Tory-Lite.” No reason to vote for them.

Let me put this precisely: The job of a political party is either to get a few specific people into power, or it is to offer a clear option to the voters. If it is the latter, then your job is to make sure that this option you offer remains available. In many cases, if you do so, you will get into power fairly soon after two to three terms. In other cases, if you are a minor party, it may take decades.

If you genuinely believe in your policies, in your ideology, or whatever it is, then that is fine. The public has a right to choose, you just make sure they have a real choice and not a menu that lists the same options under different names.

Every ideology fails. Every one. There will always be a point where people are hungry for something else, and you will be there.

Once in power, your job is simply to show that your ideology can work. If you fail to do so, the public is entirely justified in throwing you back out. Of course, an ideology can be badly implemented once, or even twice, but this does not mean it is necessarily flawed. It may just mean it was badly executed or that the circumstances were not right for it to succeed. You will need to evaluate which of these is the case before you dedicate your life to such an ideology and fight to keep your party aligned with that ideology.

An ideology can lose for a long time before it wins. The Greens and the Pirates have won little, but that does not mean they might not be the parties of the future. Old parties can become new parties: Labour was not always neo-liberal; in Canada, the Liberal party under Justin Trudeau is directly opposed to many of the policies of his father in the 70s and early 80s. (The elder Trudeau having introduced the Charter of Rights and Freedoms, which Justin had the Liberal party vote to largely abrogate.)

Neo-liberals should fight to keep Labour in England and Liberals in Canada neo-liberal. Those who support other ideologies can fight to change those parties; fight for other parties, or create new parties.

In all cases, again, the job is to provide a clear choice for the population; someone to vote for. (This is why I dislike purely regional parties, though obviously that problem is hard to avoid if your mandate is independence. It is a pity the Scottish Nationalist Party could not have run nationally–perhaps all of Britain should join Scotland.)

Party control, in any case, and in many democracies, and especially one where structures favor having only two or three major parties, is generally more important than winning any individual election. Most anything your opponents do can be undone if you get into power and still believe in undoing it. Again, this is why Thatcher won by changing Labor–because the old Labour party would have just undone virtually everything she did.

What we have had, now, for about 40 years, is a right-ward ratchet: A very right wing party gets in power and does radical things or a moderate neo-liberal party like Labour or the Democrats gets in power and basically accepts the status quo, with very minor rollbacks, and continues the rightward drift in most areas.

Clinton repealed Glass-Steagall, pushed through NAFTA, started the no-fly list, and heavily restricted welfare. Obama ramped up the drone program, went after whistle-blowers far more than Bush ever did, and is, in general terms, far worse on civil liberties than even George W. Bush.

Stopping ratchets means keeping control of the party which will be back in power eventually. This is hard to do, after two consecutive losses, a party will begin to believe it needs to become like its opponents to win. This was true of the Republicans in the 40s as much as it is true of Democrats after Reagan and Bush, Sr. or as much as it was true of Labour after Thatcher and Major.

If you have lost the battle for the second party, then (while maintaining an outpost there for a future takeover attempt), you should find a third party to champion your cause. You will not be able to stop the ratchet effect (left, right, totalitarian, permissive, or whatever). But when the ideology fails, as it will (I guarantee this, it is not in question, only matter of time), then you will have another fair shot at power. You may not succeed, new ideologies may arise to supplant you, or other problems may stymy you, but you will have your shot.

Keep control of parties. If you cannot, create them.


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60 Responses
  1. markfromireland permalink
    May 19, 2015

    Spelling Nazi = 1

    Labour Party.

    Spelling Nazi = O.

    A somewhat more substantive comment to follow when I’ve had the chance to think about this a bit more.

    mfi

  2. The Tragically Flip permalink
    May 19, 2015

    Yes, this comports precisely to my thoughts. Have been thinking a lot about the NDP provincial parties in Canada, particularly out west where they become largely indistinguishable from the Liberals federally because they are the main left-of-centre parties in several provinces where the Liberals are non-factors (Manitoba and Saskatchewan) or actually are the right-of-centre party in practice (BC). Even in Ontario with a still-functioning 3 party system, the NDP have shifted right, as did the Federal NDP under Layton.

    Hell, I like Mulcair, but for a former provincial Liberal cabinet member to win the federal NDP leadership says something about the drift there too.

    A federal NDP win could be very good in itself, but there’s a big risk that if the Liberals go into oblivion, the NDP become the Liberals over a few terms (consider the impact of all the current Liberal voters and activists joining the NDP – that alone would water down its progressiveness a good bit, even if many of those Liberals are pretty liberal).

    Absent electoral reform, I’m not sure how we prevent this.

  3. Ian Welsh permalink
    May 20, 2015

    Yes, it’s always an issue. Still, Mulcair is quite left wing on many important issues, especially environmental issues, city issues and civil liberties issues. He’s less so on economic issues, but he’s smart on them, as with his understanding of the mixed economy and Dutch Disease.

    Liberals in Quebec are a lot more left wing than in the rest of the country, and he was too left wing for them, at least on environmental issues, which he seems to genuinely believe in.

  4. May 20, 2015

    There is no malternative (sic). The key the is keep the real socialists as ugly as possible. Even John Major could then have at least a reasonable chance. And most of this who covered anything past the shoreline new that John Major was nothing to brag about. and most of us knew he had a girlfriend on the side ( I take Edwina for $400.)

  5. May 20, 2015

    On a less dissimilar topic then it might appear, LA not only passed a $15 an hour minimum wage, but did so easily. The reason why I say that it is in the same vein, is that is how revolts get started. if they are squashed, people get more angry not less.

  6. ProNewerDeal permalink
    May 20, 2015

    What would you advise for we USians? Is it possible to reform the D party? Is it possible to make a 3rd party like the Green Party powerful enough to take power, or to shame the Ds/Uniparty into implementing Social Democratic/New Deal-ish economic policy?

    What is the fine line in voting for the Ds on “we suck less”, versus supporting the a Green/3rd Party on the idea that while giving the Ds the vote unconditionally, the Ds just get worse, more right-wing, more corrupt?

    Most D voters seem to take for granted that the Ds do suck less, and point to the Rs disenfrachising voters, or the Rs extreme right-wing Supreme Court Justices. OTOH Blackagendareport.com ‘s Glen Ford’s take on Obama/Ds as “The More Effective Evil” also has merit, given Obama Reagan Jr’s Grand Ripoff to slash Soc Security/Medicare, TPP, the ACA Individual Mandate to purchase crapified insurance from a oligopolistic industry with notoriously horrible customer non-service, and judical-process-free dictator-style murders of US citizens. I do wonder if O’s policies have hurt we USians more than the Last Worst Eva TM Gee Dubbz Bush 43.

    It seems to me that a Parliamentary democracy is inherently more democratic than a Presidential democracy, or at least a US-style parliamentary democracy. It is heartening to see Social Democratic-ish parties like Canada’s NDP or Greece’s Syriza (whatever their faults they are surely infinitely better than right-wing neoliberal Democrats like Obama or Clintons) take power (or become the 2nd most powerful party in NDP’s case).

  7. May 20, 2015

    we did both, but for most people having a half African American and female president were far more important. basically, the American people saw television politics as another TV show, which they could vote in who they wanted to the president. there is a little bit of pushback. what we have to wait for is another generation, and remember that’s longer than it used to be, to get in to our power.

  8. Dan Lynch permalink
    May 20, 2015

    As an American, I’m having a hard time relating to this essay on parties.

    The American system, by design, is a 2 party system. That cannot be changed without changing the system, amending the constitution.

    We the people do not control either party. The politicians work for the 1%, and the parties work for the 1%.

    About once in a 100 years a politician will come along, who by a combination of good luck and strong personality, manages to reshape a party. Lincoln, FDR. But the Republican party of Lincoln did not last long, nor did the Democratic party of FDR. Once the great leader has died, the party reverts to the norm, which is to say it returns to being a party of the 1%.

    In the US, no 3rd party has ever become viable. At best, a 3rd party functions as a spoiler candidate, siphoning off enough votes to influence which major party candidate wins. Sometimes this has resulted in the major parties co-oping the 3rd party’s agenda. I.e., Teddy Roosevelt and Woodrow Wilson adapting some of the progressive reforms championed by the populists and by Eugene Debs. FDR co-oping a watered down version of Huey Long’s “Share Our Wealth” plan to head off the threat of Long running as a 3rd party candidate. So there may be a case for supporting a 3rd party spoiler candidate, but only if you are willing to define “winning” as getting some of your platform co-oped by a major party.

    Mostly, the political parties in the U.S. do not represent the working class. The working class is better off investing its time and money into direct action movements, or into unions. I.e., the #FightFor15 protests and strikes have done more to advance raising the minimum wage than the politicians.

  9. Purple Library Guy permalink
    May 20, 2015

    @ProNewerDeal: My advice to USians is to concentrate on the local. Local initiatives, local parties, local governments. Maybe gradually get a coalition of progressive mayors together or something, form a party that way. On the national level, my advice is to find cover, such as under a desk or something, lie down, curl into a fetal position with your arms covering your head, and kiss your ass goodbye. The US isn’t going to change at the national level until the US has definitively lost its hegemonic position internationally, which will probably be accompanied by a sizable economic depression. When that happens you can dig out your trusty pitchfork, because you won’t be the only one.

    On the article itself, pretty solid and insightful. I particularly like the point at the beginning. I’d go further: Not only does every party have an ideology, every person has one. Those who don’t know what their ideology is and think they don’t have one, just have an implicit one, a mishmash of various opinions and unexamined assumptions about how things work that is likely to be incoherent and self-contradictory. I sigh every time I see someone talking about some political issue and making claims to not be “ideological” or claiming that ideology shouldn’t be brought into it or whatever, as if that were an option.

  10. tatere permalink
    May 20, 2015

    > The American system, by design, is a 2 party system. That cannot be changed without changing the system, amending the constitution.

    the states have control over how their elections work. not much help for President or Senate, maybe (though ballot access can always help), but there’s no constitutional barrier to running elections in “superdistricts” with proportional results. plus, the state governments themselves are wide open to change.

    liberals in the USA seem to have gone so far down the path of distrust in institutions that they’ve circled back around to feudalism. they’re not interested in Congress or parties, they want a personal relationship with a Good Sovereign. (it’s always “Run X Run!” where X is the hero du jour)

  11. May 20, 2015

    The states want a 2 party system, lessons like the run up to the civil war ( with two broken presidential elections) convinced then that one party is bad for states on the wrong side. and multiple parties are not extreme enough ( we don’t have a separate language to divide someone).

    nations want more than two or three parties. and individual state wants there party to dominate, but every state wants that. thus a disequilibrium of result maintains, every wants their party to rule over everything else.

    Ian: a better way to put things, is that there is a dominant ideology system of government, with competing ideologies, and their are regional coalition parties, with compromises. the saying that ” all parties have ideologies” and then making a very large exception isn’t really what you want to say.

  12. ProNewerDeal permalink
    May 20, 2015

    sorry for my earlier typo, meant to write: It seems to me that a Parliamentary democracy is inherently more democratic than a Presidential democracy, or at least a US-style Presidential democracy.

  13. May 20, 2015

    The rich want men to fight, the they learn better, until on day an new group of rich what their share. The problem is that the poor want a little bit of protection, but not to much, because they want someone else to fight for revenge. the rich then are far smarter or far dumber.

  14. philadelphialawyer permalink
    May 20, 2015

    The Republican Party was a third party.

    It rose to power because it, and only it, addressed the slavery issue in a real way. The Dems kowtowed to the South and its Slave Power. And the Whigs only inconsistently opposed them.

    Moreover, the Republican party, which was founded in 1854, did not start out by winning a presidential election. It lost in 1856. Only after another four years, with increasing strength at all levels of government in the Midwest and Northeast, did it overtake the Whigs as the opposition party to the Dems, and win a national election. (A similar story could also be told about the formation of the Democratic Republican party, which did not just spring to life on the national level in the presidential election of 1800, but had been the work of many years’ organizing, led by Jefferson and Madison.)

    The way to start a third party is to start winning at the local, county, Congressional district levels. Then move to the State level. Only after that can success in a Presidential election be possible. Run in cities, districts, towns, etc, that are more liberal than the national Dems, and feasibly can elect a Social Democratic candidate. From there, build coalitions with liberal Dems (and any other liberals, Independent, even Republican) in City Councils, County legislatures, etc. Eventually, start electing Congressmen and State Assemblymen and Senators. Again, form coalitions with willing Dems, and others, in Congress and the State Houses. Once you’ve gotten that far, try to win the most liberal States’ governorships and US Senate seats. And then, after all that, you can perhaps win the presidency.

    It seems to me that efforts at liberal third parties, like the Greens and Nadirites, put too much emphasis on presidential races. They want to start at the top, rather than do the hard spade work of building local, and then State, and then finally a national party.

    Today, the GOP is like the 1850’s Democratic party–it is openly the party of the oppressors, and purports to believe in their right to oppress. Today’s Democratic party is like the Whigs of the 1850’s. It has a wing, and a grassroots, that opposes the oppression, but it also has an accomadationalist wing, and that wing is usually dominant, particularly at the national level. What is needed is for the liberal wing to break loose of the party, and help form a new party which is ideologically more pure. Much like the Republican party of the 1850’s was more pure in its opposition to slavery than the Whigs, who were divided between “Conscience Whigs” and “Cotton Whigs,” would ever be.

  15. CMike permalink
    May 20, 2015

    I agree with philadelphialawyer but I had written up a different comment about this.

    The original vision of the “American system” was that there would be no parties. The Twelfth Amendment, then, was a bit of a patchwork fix after unforeseen developments proved a no-party system wasn’t going to work.

    In the matter of the last third party to successfully establish itself as one of the two major parties there are some details that might be useful to review. Lincoln was not a decisive figure in the creation and meteoric rise of the Republican Party which, once in power, was going to stake out a new national course on the central issue of the day. The Republican Party had been born in the immediate wake of the introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska bill in 1854. Granted, in 1860 Lincoln did have more electoral appeal in the crucial Lower North to close the deal of winning the White House than did Sen. William Seward of New York. However, among other Republicans, Seward also might have been able to win the national election for president that year.

    [LINK]

    [LINK]

  16. Jeff Wegerson permalink
    May 20, 2015

    Lets see what happens with Sanders. He and Warren are a tag team at the moment. Sherrod Brown and maybe even Dick Durbin are wild cards as well. And there is still an entire progressive caucus in the House. Some of them like Shakowsky even voted against Ukraine arms.

    But yeah it is a two party system. That’s why Sanders is being careful to avoid the Nader trap. Yet the Republicans are kinda slowly imploding. And it is around that emerging vacuum that Warren/Sanders/Nader et al could coalesce into a new second party.

    The neo-liberal/neo-conservative world empire is also slowly yielding uni-polarity to the Chinese/Russian/etc multi-polarity modality. As that happens the cracks will extend into U.S. domestic polity.

    Somewhere in the mix we appear. We are the bearers of the necessary new ideology that Ian has been assembling on these pages.

    Or something like that.

  17. CMike permalink
    May 21, 2015

    Where I would disagree with philadelphialawyer is the idea of a third party could build itself into a national force by winning local and county level elections and building a base from that which might then march to national power. In 1994, Gringrich with his “Contract With America” delivered the coup de grâce to what was left to an “all politics is local” approach to national politics. That approach had long been destined for the grave since the advent of television. These days I think unless there’s a unusually pressing local issue or a scandal most voters don’t do much to school themselves beyond putting a check mark next to whatever name corresponds to their preference for either the Democrats or the Republicans.

    It’s kind of interesting to me how little Nate Silver’s needle moved throughout the Obama/Romney race regardless of, say, the Democrat’s poor first debate performance or the Republican’s 47% remark. I just don’t see how any slow but sure approach will ever, er, catapult the propaganda. I think it’ll take some single galvanizing policy proposal or narrow ideology to do that.

    The $15 an hour minimum wage is sort of a hybrid of that can be proposed locally and prevail at that level and it can start to inform the national consciousness. However, the longer it takes to become a national movement the more time the Establishment has to find a way to subvert it by sponsoring its “advocates” or controlling the messaging around it [LINK].

    (In my opinion, it’s would be easier to take over an existing party than to build a new one. Somebody has to make a national call for committed New Deal/Great Society and left leaning Democrats to start calling for and applying litmus tests to their candidates -including on some pushing the envelop positions- and then advocate for turning on those candidates even in general elections whenever they fail to test Democratic normal until rank-in-file Democrats have purged their party.)

  18. philadelphialawyer permalink
    May 21, 2015

    “Where I would disagree with philadelphialawyer is the idea of a third party could build itself into a national force by winning local and county level elections and building a base from that which might then march to national power. In 1994, Gringrich with his ‘Contract With America’ delivered the coup de grâce to what was left to an “all politics is local” approach to national politics.”

    Because the GOP won one off year Congressional election based on a national program, all other levels of politics are irrelevant? I don’t think so. Most important political and policy decisions are actually still made at the State level, and even local governments have more power than many folks believe.

    The point is that the presidential prize is an illusion for a new, third party. To win it, you must have strength, majority or at least plurality, in many States and many regions. You just can’t go from zero to sixty that fast. Perot got 18 per cent of the popular vote, but no electoral votes. Wallace won a bunch of States, but not enough to even come close to the losing major party candidate.

    But a third party could win at the lower levels. And start building from there.

    “That approach had long been destined for the grave since the advent of television.”

    TV is not exactly new. And now we have the internet to use to fight that kind of central control. And even TV itself is more decentralized than it once was.

    “These days I think unless there’s a unusually pressing local issue or a scandal most voters don’t do much to school themselves beyond putting a check mark next to whatever name corresponds to their preference for either the Democrats or the Republicans.”

    True, but that is what a third party must seek to change, at whatever level.

    “The $15 an hour minimum wage is sort of a hybrid of that can be proposed locally and prevail at that level and it can start to inform the national consciousness. However, the longer it takes to become a national movement the more time the Establishment has to find a way to subvert it by sponsoring its ‘advocates’ or controlling the messaging around it.”

    The 15 dollar minimum wage is only the beginning, not the end. The Establishment cannot co opt all the issues of economic justice, or else it will cease to be the Establishment. A third party could push issue after issue at the local and State levels…rent control, free mass transit, more progressive taxes, better public schools, public ownership of utilities, single payer health care, and so on. And then those issues can percolate up to the national level, and give even more prominence to their third party advocates.

    “In my opinion, it’s would be easier to take over an existing party than to build a new one. Somebody has to make a national call for committed New Deal/Great Society and left leaning Democrats to start calling for and applying litmus tests to their candidates -including on some pushing the envelop positions- and then advocate for turning on those candidates even in general elections whenever they fail to test Democratic normal until rank-in-file Democrats have purged their party.”

    I have no problem with that approach either. I think the two approaches could work together. One set of people work to build a liberal third party, while another work to make the Dem party more liberal from within. Perhaps they could then meet in the middle.

    “In the matter of the last third party to successfully establish itself as one of the two major parties there are some details that might be useful to review. Lincoln was not a decisive figure in the creation and meteoric rise of the Republican Party which, once in power, was going to stake out a new national course on the central issue of the day. The Republican Party had been born in the immediate wake of the introduction of the Kansas-Nebraska bill in 1854. ”

    Yes, the slavery issue, in particular the issue of slavery spreading, as a result of first Kansas Nebraska law, and the Dred Scott decision and the fight over “popular sovereignty” in Kansas, is
    was made the GOP.

    We don’t have anything quite so dramatic now, but we do have the entire complex of economic and FP issues. We have the dreadful consequences of neo liberal economics and neo conservative (and neo liberal) war mongering. We have a sense that folks constantly vote against war and in favor of more economic equality in the big, presidential elections, but that both parties, including the national Dems (Bill Clinton, Obama, Hillary, Kerry, etc), keep serving up the opposite. Like the old Whigs, the Dems need to either clean house or to be replaced.

  19. CMike permalink
    May 21, 2015

    philadelphialawyer says:

    TV is not exactly new.

    Depends on your timeframe, I guess. Television, with the running start given it by it’s telecommunication’s cousin radio, was edging out print as the primary medium for infotainment by the mid-sixties. The Gingrich revolution of ’94 came thirty years later. From, say, the 1760s until the 1960s the far more democratic and conversational medium of print had been the main source of political and cultural information for voters so even after a few decades television was still, in a sense, new.

    As philadelphialawyer indicates, though, it sure does seem or, at least, it sure did seem like the internet would provide a counter to the political power of Main$treamMedia conglomerated. So far, not so much.

    I’d also like to tip my cap to the Tea Party approach of demanding total ideological purity. A few years back Glenn Greenwald pointed to a certain maneuver the Democratic rank-in-file has wake up to [LINK]:

    The primary tactic in this game is Villain Rotation. They always have a handful of Democratic Senators announce that they will be the ones to deviate this time from the ostensible party position and impede success, but the designated Villain constantly shifts, so the Party itself can claim it supports these measures while an always-changing handful of their members invariably prevent it.

    One minute, it’s Jay Rockefeller as the Prime Villain leading the way in protecting Bush surveillance programs and demanding telecom immunity; the next minute, it’s Dianne Feinstein and Chuck Schumer joining hands and “breaking with their party” to ensure Michael Mukasey’s confirmation as Attorney General; then it’s Big Bad Joe Lieberman single-handedly blocking Medicare expansion; then it’s Blanche Lincoln and Jim Webb joining with Lindsey Graham to support the de-funding of civilian trials for Terrorists; and now that they can’t blame Lieberman or Ben Nelson any longer on health care (since they don’t need 60 votes), Jay Rockefeller voluntarily returns to the Villain Role, stepping up to put an end to the pretend-movement among Senate Democrats to enact the public option via reconciliation.

  20. V. Arnold permalink
    May 21, 2015

    I guess what surprises, no, astounds, is, after all the years; 15 at last count; ya’ll still think elections matter!
    If in fact, that is the mind set; then this is just ludicrous theater and you accept roles as actors in the farce.

  21. May 23, 2015

    If your ideology controls the second party, odds are strong you will eventually wind up in power, just because of public fatigue with the current party.

    Therefore your job, as a left-winger, right-winger, or whatever, is to keep control of that party. This takes precedence over winning the most immediate election.

    Yeah, this has been your core thesis. On the surface, it may seem to some of your readers that there is little to argue with, and on the whole, no one has a principled opposition to starting parties that align with your ideological preferences. The problem is the actual little details of implementation, the point at which you decide that you’ve lost ideological control of your current party, etc — because any group of people, even claiming the same ideological label, are going to have a diversity of opinions and are not always going to be “on the same page”, so to speak.

    Then there’s the ethical concern over the amount of damage you allow when you decide you’ve turned from ideological influence to alibi in your own current party. All these things were at play in, e.g., the third party arguments in the USA, and I’m not sure that your prescription here is specific enough to act as a guide for how to behave in those circumstances. Ultimately, first-past-the-post systems and particular those in very hierarchically organized federations, are about getting career politicians into power, and your room for sustaining ideological consistency is also partly constrained by this.

    So: no. I disagree that ideological control over the nth party should be the principle guiding light in engagement with electoral politics, simply because it’s one of those things that doesn’t account for sufficient variation in circumstances. It’s one of those overarching ideas that remains, well, overarching.

    I think that this whole discussion stems from an unwillingness of an ideological progressive left to engage with understanding how neoliberal is and remains electorally overwhelmingly successful, beyond very broad stroke (and doubtless true) complaints about media control, etc. In real life, I have been arguing with European acquaintances about the Greek crisis — among them are people who broadly and explicitly support the ECB noose-tightening as a perfectly legitimate tactic to combat those who are conspiring to weaken Europe’s competitiveness against a burgeoning Asia. Needless to say, I think they’re deluded, but they didn’t just come to this conclusion because they were reading a lot of Murdoch papers, or whatever. There’s a deep and underlying emotional basis to it that can take the same facts and come up with a rather different ethical judgement. That, and not the question of the threshold at which one jumps ship from a political party, is the real issue here in the ideological direction of electoral politics and representative government.

  22. Jessica permalink
    May 23, 2015

    Social factors are driving the political ones. The well-paid unionized part of the working class has been largely eliminated in the US and quite reduced across most all of the first world. The knowledge work class has thus far sided thoroughly with the oligarchs and other elites, not only in voting but more importantly in the deeper attitudes that drive voting, for example indifference/contempt for blue collar workers combined with admiration for the elites even when they visibly reached the top by hurting others.
    What is perhaps unique is that this knowledge work class needs to not understand what it is doing. Therefore, leftist parties that seem to try but fail are actually the optimum for the knowledge work class.
    Cracks are appearing in this system precisely because the oligarchs and other elites are now doing to parts of the knowledge work class what they already did to the manual working class.
    One other point: our oligarchs and other elites have no remaining historical purpose whatsoever. They hold power and wealth only to hold power and wealth. This was not true before the 60s or so and is not true is much of the “third world”.
    Elites before the 60s and in the “third world” now were nasty and brutal, but they did/do have a purpose. Ours don’t. Not seeing that fact is the life blood of all those who control information flow. It is also why the current knowledge work class may have a more inaccurate sense of itself than any other class in history.

  23. Dread permalink
    August 14, 2015

    Commenters who say the Greens should concentrate on local races are most likely not involved in any way with a local green Party. Local Dems and Repubs have, in many states, enacted laws that make it extremely difficult to get on the ballot for local races. It’s often the case that a certain percentage of a Presidential vote gives automatic ballot access for the next few years, as opposed to having to expend resources to gather (and defend!) signatures to get on the ballot. Since voters often only pay attention during Presidential elections, it can be helpful to local Green (and other parties) to have a Presidential candidate running.

  24. S Brennan permalink
    August 14, 2015

    Good Post and much good commentary above.

    The Democratic party was taken over in the late 70-80’s, this movement preceded Reagan’s election and in part was precipitated by the die-off of those who were of working age during the Great Depression, which led to a new respectability of economic policies that had created the Great Depression itself. This economic policy had many faces, but Lucifer chose Milton Friedman to give voice to his satanic verses, the 70’s economic pressures made the nonsensical policy seem plausible and “new”, the success of Jarvis’s anti-tax movement helped to create the momentum for a return to the world of the Great Gatsby.

    Quislings in the Democratic party, who had traditionally left the Democratic party, after undermining it for a period and join the Republican party as their actions became too obvious…started to think bigger. As the older edge of the baby-boom had always had an easy path…and the arrogance that comes with such luck, they asked; “why should we leave, why not force the old FDR types out”.

    At the same time, the corporate suites saw there would be problems with the Christian right that they needed to destroy much of the New Deal with Reagan and found the quislings [DLC] siren call compelling, but they wanted to see results first. Since international corporations need a divided, nihilistic culture in order to rule, Christian Churches could poise a threat in time, as they had before FDR.

    The quislings got to work, taking a page from the now forgotten book, “Thriving in Chaos” they created chaos in the Democratic Party by making sure that weak, feeble candidates were nominated over strong independent figures. The result was, the party was electorally defeated and thrown into chaos, as the old leaders did not fully understand that they were being defeated by quislings who sought to mutate the party into an entirely new species.

    The first step, a highly toxic carcinogen of electoral defeat, which broke the DNA open, then NeoDemocrats spliced in a new and foreign genes of economic elitism which turned the Party into a far more effective vehicle for Corporate expansion into the public sphere, it was a rich medium, in which the quislings could thrive and multiply.

    And so here we are today the NeoDemocratic party opposes plans for single-payer universal health care, supports charter schools, NAFTA, CAFTA, TPPA, tax cuts that made Bush’s tax cut feasible, Social Security privatization, 2003 invasion of Iraq, indeed they urged it, attacking opposition as “anti-American fringe”.

    The 1994 election after NAFTA resulting in the Republican Party gaining a majority in the House of Representatives and Senate that would last for twelve years, did nothing to deter these quislings, quite the opposite, it was seen as a total victory for them, as many FDR Dems were washed away in the electoral flood, their hand was only strengthened…and as quislings, they understand, you must guard against any internal threat. If any Democratic candidate starts to mouth FDR populism a take down team is sent to take out the threat.

    Obama is the NeoDemocratic party’s crowning achievement, he stopped the momentum for a return to FDR’s sanity, prevented Wall Street from being prosecuted for financial fraud, enacted economic policy far to the right of Reagan, has prosecuted secret wars without opposition, developed and refined a Stasi police state, capable of crushing any unrest…Obama led a national sweep of OWS, to be replaced with the Orwellianly titled “Occupy Democrats”…complete dossiers on every individual…opposition leaders can be discredited on short notice and the final achievement of a presidential power, the “lawfulness” of the President’s right liquidate individuals, either publicly, or secretly, as the needs of the security state dictate.

  25. realitychecker permalink
    June 30, 2016

    After reading of AG Lynch’s private 30 minute runway meeting with Bill Clinton this week, to discuss their grandchildren and his golf game and nothing substantive (fuck anybody dumb enough to believe that!!!!!), I think that any rational hopes for real change must be linked more to bullets than to ballots. Even ballets might get us more than ballots, at this point. (This offered as pure analysis, not as advocacy.)

    Instead of milk, maybe we should be feeding our babies the blood of tyrants. Nah, let’s just wait until the Soylent Green becomes available at Wal-Mart.

    Are we truly descended from the same folks who penned the Declaration of Independence?

    I know, good progressives never hurt anybody. Only oligarchs and their minions can do that.

    Next life, I hope to come back as a cockroach; there would be more dignity in that than the current incarnation as a progressive.

  26. V. Arnold permalink
    June 30, 2016

    Next life, I hope to come back as a cockroach; there would be more dignity in that than the current incarnation as a progressive.

    Then you miss the point entirely.
    Do not plant your life on the present government’s machinations. Things come and things go; cut your life loose from these happenings and strive for personal independence from the presented realities foisted on you by the other.

  27. Peter* permalink
    June 30, 2016

    It’s entertaining to watch the quisling attacks that the Third Party fantasy brings out and it will be interesting how they react to the #Bernie or Bust contingent who seem to be heading in that direction now that he has capitulated to the Red Queen in action if not in word.

    A powerful third party is and will continue to be a fantasy but I understand the attraction it offers to those who still believe in the System or that they might be able through some magic to take control of anything in that system.

    Third parties or any other attempt to take control of out system are much like the dieting industry that sells you food to lose weight when not eating food is the only way to lose weight. It’s the same with our corrupt system, if you feed it it will grow. The only way to shrink the beast is to deprive it of its sustenance which is voters who no matter who they vote for are feeding the beast.

  28. realitychecker permalink
    June 30, 2016

    @ V Arnold

    Ah, drop out and restrict yourselves to your own immediate environment, just like animals on a farm, while the bad guys gobble up the whole world and the future, i.e., the eternal solution for the once-passionate who have now given up, and in the process have forgotten all the times they warmed to the idea of fighting for a cause greater than themselves. All the deposed dictators of history wish from Hell that their populaces had followed your advice.

    FYI, I have already done what you suggest, but for some reason have a nagging residual devotion to principles of freedom, democracy, and the rule of law. Fortunately, I don’t expect to be around for more than another few years, so, there’s that comfort also available.

    I assume the bad guys have a better menu of comforts available. They deserve it all because they have all the merit, dontcha know?

  29. V. Arnold permalink
    June 30, 2016

    realitychecker
    All the deposed dictators of history wish from Hell that their populaces had followed your advice.

    Rubbish. I have no allegiance to any government, social, or institution.
    I am my own sovereign (as much as that is possible as a U.S. citizen), living quite anonymously far from the western sphere.
    You may be one of the animals on a farm; I am not.
    Freedom is far more than a physical state…

  30. V. Arnold permalink
    July 1, 2016

    @ realitychecker
    Further Musings:
    It seems most of us humans are/have become of a herd mentality; which is fine for sheep, cattle, bison, and horses, to name a few. If one sees this and longs for something alternative; then personal choices must prevail and separation is inevitable; the road less traveled, to quote a cliche’.
    So, life boils down to personal choices and values; mine do not align with the majority and I do not wear this as a badge of anything other than difficult decisions made and acted upon with no regrets.
    At 71, I’ve lived with this for more than 13 years and wouldn’t change a thing…

  31. Hugh permalink
    July 2, 2016

    You can not lead a “revolution” against the system from within the system. This is the reformist’s fallacy. A totally corrupt system can not be reformed. It can only be replaced. Sanders and Corbyn = Trojan horses. Even if Sanders had or Corbyn does gain control of their parties, they would still need to win a general election. In the US, Sanders would still have faced a Washington and Congress completely hostile to him. Corbyn would only be in a slightly better situation, probably in a coalition which would reduce his scope of action, and also facing an entrenched bureaucracy, class system, as well as corporate structure solidly against him and perfectly willing to sabotage him.

    While in the US we are taught to rever FDR, let us remember that FDR did not start out as a New Dealer. He adopted New Deal programs to save capitalism. The moment the immediate danger was past he did not hesitate to dump most of them even though the result was to plunge the country in 1937 back into depression it had just left. New Dealism wasn’t liberal, although from the 60s and 70s on the two were often confounded. It was a pragmatic, and temporary, liberal response to conditions (and movements) which would have destroyed capitalism and liberalism altogether. American liberalism hearkens back to Wilson, and as I have written before, it was deeply elitist, corporatist, paternalistic, virulently anti-populist, and interventionist in foreign affairs. FDR’s “genius”, if you will, was to borrow just enough just long enough from the country’s radical movements to keep the underlying political and economic system intact. Neoliberalism far from being something new is really a return of liberalism to its Wilsonian roots. It is liberalism without the alien New Deal overlay.

    First, a reality check. Sanders hasn’t started a revolution or a movement. Their application to him is really nothing more than the usual Establishment bastardization and hollowing out of political terms. Anyone who questions the status quo in any way and garnered enough of a following for the powers that be to notice would have had similar labels attached to them. Just because this labeling occurs doesn’t make it real.

    If you want to start a revolution, start a movement. A movement needs a clear vision of what it wants to build and an easily understood and coherent program of what it is for and what it is against to get there. It has to embody the concerns of ordinary people, and it can never speak down to them. A movement needs to keep building itself, and it needs to keep the forces of the status quo permanently on the run. It needs to be both disciplined and open. Any political party that comes out of it must be subservient to it. Its candidates must be recruited from within the movement, not opportunistic Establishment pols who seek to draft off the movement’s appeal, and they must be willing to fight tooth and nail for the movenment’s goals. Compromise and “pragmatic” alliances are a surefire way to kill a movement. Finally, a movement needs to start delivering as soon as it can, and in tangible ways on its vision and program. This is the counterpart of asking for real sacrifice from and risk taking by its members.

    In the beginning, OWS (Occupy Wall Street) threw the powers that be for a loop. It was outside. It was something they did not control. But once they saw that it had no program, no vision, and no organization they knew it would eventually stall, and all they had to do was wait it out a bit and then crush it. By contrast, all the Sturm und Drang and pearl clutching over the Trump and Sanders’ campaigns have been contrived. Neither is a real outsider, and both are playing, despite the rhetorical outbursts and flourishes, the Establishment’s game on largely the Establishment’s terms. The Establishment might well have wished neither had achieved the prominence they did, but in the end, they were only nuisances, nothing more. And in deflecting any real rebellion or movement creation, the Establishment can even rationalize them as net plusses.

  32. Hugh permalink
    July 2, 2016

    Since realitychecker brought up the Lynch-Clinton meeting, I could not resist. This is another case of in your face corruption wherein we are told not to believe our lying eyes and that there is nothing to see here, so move along. So they only discussed golf and grandkids? I wonder how that went?

    Bill: “I was thinking about a golf vacation in October after the party convention. Of course, I would cancel it if Hillary had certain difficulties of a legal nature. So what do you think? Should I schedule or not.”

    or how about:

    Bill: If Hillary gets into the White House without any “problems”, we sure would like you and your grandkids to come and visit, that is if staying on as Attorney General until the next slot at the Supreme Court opens up doesn’t occupy too much of your time.”

    What is funny about lies, and the Clintons know a lot about lying, is that the more you and your supporters try to embellish and rationalize them, the more unwieldy the stories become and the worse the lies get.

    We are told that Clinton just happened to cross paths with Lynch in Phoenix, a couple of thousand miles outside the view of Washington, and just 5 days before Hillary’s FBI interview. Then we are told he just walked across the tarmac uninvited to see her, much like you might say hi to someone a few tables over at the local Culver’s. Except it’s not really like that at all. We are talking about two of the most secured individuals in the country. They have rings of security around them, and those rings need to interact with each other and with their principals before anyone goes walking across any tarmacs or goes from one security cordon into and through another. And all this is taking place at a large airport, so lots of other security and just think how easy (not) it would be for you to walk off on to the tarmac to say to somebody. Of course, this may have been happening at a more secluded area of the airport. From a security point of view, seclusion has plusses against random attackers but also negatives against a more focussed attack. However, the more the seclusion the worse the politics optics. Again we’re talking 2300 miles from DC in, I would assume, a secluded part of the airport onboard a government plane behind rings and rings of security. I guess the thinking is if there is nothing you CAN see there, then there is nothing to see there. That kind of a distinction sounds very Clintonesque to me.

    Anyway, the two funniest and most disingenuous defenses of the meeting were that if Bill Clinton had just thought about this for five minutes, he would have realized the inappropriateness of it or at least the appearance of inappropriateness and never have done it. It’s not really much of a defense when you consider A) the Lewinsky affair, B) that Bill Clinton is regularly portrayed as one of the shrewdest politicians going or C) that it would only have taken him 4 minutes and 57 seconds longer to come to this realization than you, me, or virtually anyone else we in the country. And this is the guy that Hillary wants to turn the economy over to.

    The second line of defense was that Clinton and Lynch are old friends and so there was nothing untoward going on in their meeting. What this ignores is that if this is so, then Lynch should have recused herself from the whole Clinton email investigation from the beginning, not just maybe sort of kind of after her meeting with Bill Clinton became known.

    They lie and lie and lie, and after a while they tell us to stop being so negative and that we need to move on. Hillary is already trying to put a past sell by date on the whole email affair, just as she did with her Goldman Sachs suckup speeches, and in a week she will be treating Bill’s meeting with Lynch as ancient irrelevant history.

  33. Hugh permalink
    July 2, 2016

    Sorry for the typos, dropped and added words, in the above.

  34. CMike permalink
    July 2, 2016

    [QUOTE] …Lynch told reporters that the meeting at a Phoenix airport on Monday was unplanned and happened while the former president was waiting to depart and walked over to the attorney general’s plane after she landed there.

    Lynch was traveling with her husband and said her conversation with the former president “was a great deal about his grandchildren” and their travels. The former president, who recently became a grandfather for the second time, told her he had been playing golf in Arizona and they discussed former Attorney General Janet Reno, whom they both know…. [END QUOTE]

    Makes sense. A lot of well-heeled golfers fly out Phoenix way to play a round in Scottsdale or in one of the other upscale communities in the area. The smart thing about doing it on a June 27 is that every year you can count on being able to get a last minute tee time on that day.

    LINK

  35. Ghostwheel permalink
    July 2, 2016

    @Hugh:

    Appreciate your point about neoliberalism simply being a return to original, Wilsonian liberalism. I have long considered Wilson the worst president of the twentieth century.

  36. different clue permalink
    July 3, 2016

    What was the temperature at the gold course on the day that Clinton allegedly played golf there? Has anyone asked Mr. Clinton just exactly which golf course he played at?

    Colonel Lang at SST has recently posted a post about the thoroughly and utterly corrupt and undue-command-influence-attempting meeting between Clinton and Lynch. The commenters have discussed it further. Here is the link.
    http://turcopolier.typepad.com/sic_semper_tyrannis/2016/07/httpwwwchicagotribunecomnewscolumnistskassct-bill-clinton-loretta-lynch-kass-0701-20160630-columnhtml.html

    I personally doubt that any Clinton will be indicted for this or for anything else, ever; for two reasons.
    Reason one: they are both much smarter lawyers than Nixon ever was and they have studied very carefully how to design and build a coverup so that the cover stays up.

    Reason two: The Clintons are so wired into the social and bussiness and power networks of all the most powerful people in the world that if the Clintons were credibly threatened with indictment for anything to do with anything, they could return the credible threat with a credible threat of their own: namely to expose everyone and everything which is/was connected to the Clintons in their bussiness and power affairs.

    For example, if anyone seeks to threaten Clinton over his plane trips on the pedophile Epstein’s “Lolita Express” private plane to Epstein’s private island, Clinton can just threaten to reveal every name of every other person he ever saw on the Lolita Express or met on Lolita Island. That is how Clinton can assure that “Lolitagate” never gets beyond the pages of the National Enquirer.

  37. different clue permalink
    July 3, 2016

    Hmmm . . . I just found a webpost with a very different interpretation of the Clinton undue-command-influence-attempt meeting with Lynch. It is based on the presumption that the Clintons already esPECT an indictment over Emailgate . . . . and are executing a two-cushion carom shot to pre-neutralize any indictment which comes down. Rather than take space re-phrasing a webpost which has already phrased its theory to begin with, I will just provide a link to the webpost.
    http://www.twisttheknife.com/bill-clintons-runway-meeting-with-ag-lynch-was-classic-clinton-political-theater-heres-why-he-did-it/

  38. Hugh permalink
    July 4, 2016

    With the Clintons, if their lips are moving they’re lying.
    They are never sincere unless they have an ulterior motive.
    Nothing they do is ever “unplanned”: It is always part of the con.

    So Clinton’s meeting with Lynch was about as unplanned as the D-Day Invasion. It was only unplanned in the sense that it did not show up on, and was not meant to show up on, either of their official schedules. Bill knew exactly what he was doing and did it. He wanted to guage how severe the upcoming FBI interview was going to be and he wanted to influence Lynch with regard to it and the overall investigation as much as possible. And their plusses even to the meeting becoming public knowledge. Lynch still hasn’t completely recused herself from the case. Her pledge to turn the matter over to career DOJ prosecutors was itself a dodge. You don’t become a career DOJ prosecutor by rocking the boat and making waves. And you don’t rise further at Main DOJ, or become a USA somewhere you want, or eventually get that cushy and hyper well paid sinecure as senior partner in one of the big DC or NY law firms by sticking it to both a former (Bill) and future (Hill) POTUS. The only fly in this ointment is Comey, the head of the FBI who is a conservative and who would make waves if he saw any flagrant suppression of the investigation but once it goes to the DOJ prosecutors it really is out of his hands. At least, I’m pretty sure that is the Clintons’ calculation.

    As for Hillary’s FBI interview, after it, she professed to always having been eager to do it. First, no one in their right mind looks forward to an interview with the FBI. It’s a lot like saying you look forward to a positive diagnosis for cancer, or an STD. Second, she dodged the interview for two months until the primaries were safely over and until she could schedule it for one of the deadest news days of the year, the start of a long 4th of July weekend. She then showed up for it with more lawyers than a mafia don (five, six if you include her).

  39. Hugh permalink
    July 5, 2016

    A final note. They got to Comey. Although the Hillary Clinton FBI interview took place on Saturday of a holiday weekend, Comey has come out on the first business day after it to announce that there is nothing to see here, move along.

    I think in part the con was always in. The parameters of the investigation did not include looking into the issue of corruption, Clinton selling the office of Secretary of State in exchange for multi-million dollar “gifts” to the family’s foundation. So they very studiously did not “see” any indication of such corruption even if it was staring them in the face, and they very much did not use any of the information they acquired to go looking for any. It is very much a case of not finding what you are not looking for whether you come across it or not. Again you see this a lot in government. The example I often cite is that of the 9/11 Commission. Much was made of the fact that it did not blame officials in the Bush Administration for their failures in the lead-up to the attack. This was because it was specifically mandated NOT to assess any such responsibility, and it didn’t. Creating circumscribed mandates, whether commissions or investigations, is a standard tactic to placate the rubes while letting the powerful off the hook. It is the polar opposite of using a broken tail light as the pretense for a traffic stop leading to a drug bust. That kind of aggressive, and constitutionally dubious, tactic, which agencies like the FBI exalt in, is reserved for that most suspect of classes, the unconnected.

    Comey was also completely disingenuous when he announced no charges would be filed because there was no intent to harm national security on the part of Clinton. As even a rag like the National Review pointed out, intent is not part of the law. It is the action which is determinative.

    At Naked Capitalism, they refer to this affair as the Clinton email hairball, but it would be more accurate to call it the Clinton email tar ball because it tars everyone who comes near it: Obama, Attorney General Lynch, FBI director Comey, investigators at the FBI, prosecutors at the DOJ, the Bill and Hillary show, her aides and staff at State, including or perhaps especially Huma, the IT staff at State, the Clinton Global Initiative, and donors to it. Corruption, misdeeds, and crimes everywhere and somehow (snark) the premier law enforcement agency in the country, and some would say the world, misses them all.

    This actually brings me around to the point I originally made in this thread: you can not reform a system that is as corrupt and rotten as this one.

  40. V. Arnold permalink
    July 5, 2016

    Hugh
    This actually brings me around to the point I originally made in this thread: you can not reform a system that is as corrupt and rotten as this one.

    Some of have known this for a very, very long time.
    The only solution is to withdraw all support which I’ve managed to do; it’s not easy, but, with the will, imagination, and perseverance it can be done.

  41. V. Arnold permalink
    July 5, 2016

    Some of US…

  42. realitychecker permalink
    July 6, 2016

    @ V. Arnold

    If you have gotten out, good for you, and I wonder where you found your better environment.

    However, most of us stuck here in the U.S, are stuck here for many personal reasons.

    I hope you can understand my fierce resistance to the very idea that people like me should be forced to leave the homeland where they were raised to love cherish, and believe the mythologies about democracy and rule of law (and others) that we were raised on. And also to leave those we love here, if we are fortunate enough to have some that we love.

    From the perspective of a native American, maybe it’s better to fight than to flee.

  43. realitychecker permalink
    July 6, 2016

    @ V. Arnold

    So, you take issue with my contention that all deposed dictators would prefer for their populations to have dropped out rather than fighting and deposing them? That does not compute.

    I know you are proud of having left, and that is a valid personal choice for some, but mainly for those who have no meaningful personal relationships here. Perhaps all your friends and family had already died off when you left? (As mine are now in the process of doing, sadly.) But that is a very important anchor to most of us.

    Also, some do not have the resources to up and relocate, and I’d also wonder where you found a better environment.

    Most important, why leave a country that you consider to be your own? Let the oppressors leave, or die, seems a better attitude to me.

    You are just offering an inverted update of the right wing’s 1960’s slogan “Love it or leave it,” which I also rejected when it was offered to me way back then. And for the same reason, i.e., nobody has a greater right to be in my country than I do.

    Your emphasis on your own self to the exclusion of everything else makes me feel that you do not have much of a sense of community. If you see yourself as being part of a community, you fight to defend it; you do not run away and forget about it.

  44. Hugh permalink
    July 6, 2016

    There was a wonderful montage on Morning Joe on MSNBC of Hillary Clinton making one statement/lie after another about her email server, each followed by a statement of Comey from his news conference directly contradicting her. I haven’t looked. It probably is up on youtube or at MSNBC. It is certainly worth a look. If I were Trump (terrible thought), I would use it in a spot with a voice over saying very neutrally (no need to go over the top) Honest Hillary, Truthful Hillary, Trustworthy Hillary. It would be devastating.

  45. V. Arnold permalink
    July 6, 2016

    realitychecker
    July 6, 2016

    I know you are proud of having left…

    Your’s is a perfect example of captured thinking. Basically I take issue with your whole line of cliches and a lack of critical thinking.
    I’m proud? A total failure of understanding; as I stated, it was a very difficult decision.
    You say “forced to leave the homeland”; gods be good, the words of the oppressor now in the everyday lexicon.
    I’d go on, but you clearly will never understand my reasons. I doubt you blame the Germans for leaving pre-war Germany (the analog is valid, IMO) but you blame me for not staying.
    I have only one life and will choose how it’s lived; not recognizing any government as sovereign over my life. End of story.

  46. realitychecker permalink
    July 6, 2016

    @ V. Arnold

    I said “proud” because I have lost count of how many times I’ve seen you say, right here, that what you did is the only smart thing to do. Are you telling me now that that means you are ashamed of your decision?

    As to critical thinking, well. that’s kind of my area. I won’t bother laying my credentials out for you, but maybe you’ve noticed my screen name? Not chosen randomly, I assure you. But I will point out your apparent weakness at simple reading skills, by bringing your attention to the fact that what I said was that leaving was a “valid personal choice.” I also find it puzzling that you would call the idea that deposed dictators would prefer to have their opponents leave rather than stay and depose and/or kill them “rubbish.”

    Finally, I would suggest that there is something very faulty about implying that anyone who describes their home land as their homeland is automatically to be compared to a Nazi.

    Maybe you’re just a little more limited in the brains department than you think you are? Or maybe you just had nothing here that was worth staying for?

    In any event, your incessant suggestions that we should all follow your example and flee the country so we could all be “sovereigns” somewhere else (a desert island, perhaps?) leaves me and most other people cold.

  47. realitychecker permalink
    July 6, 2016

    # V. Arnold

    On edit.

    You said “oppressor,” but the term “homeland” is generally considered by lefties here to be an echo from the way the Nazis used the term. FYI, my use of the term is accurately descriptive of my birth place, that’s how I used it, and that does not make me either an oppressor or a Nazi. Nice try at deflection, though; that seems to be where your true skills lie.

  48. realitychecker permalink
    July 6, 2016

    @ V. Arnold

    Heh, remember this?

    V. Arnold permalink
    June 10, 2016

    cripes
    June 10, 2016

    I can relate to and sympathize with a lot of what you say, however; I have a question; why do you stay?
    It’s a big world out there with many, many options; but not for the faint of heart…

    Not “proud,” you say, of your lack of heart faintness lol? Tell me another.

  49. V. Arnold permalink
    July 7, 2016

    realitychecker
    July 6, 2016

    Fortunately your own words speak for themselves, and show what are a mish-mash of contradictions; which any person with an operational brain will see for what it is; utter nonsense…
    This exchange is finished…

  50. Ivory Bill Woodpecker permalink
    July 7, 2016

    Oh, get a room, you two! 😆

  51. realitychecker permalink
    July 7, 2016

    You are right, Ian, a lot of the commenters here are really stupid, and think conclusory language wins an argument without having to say anything specific.

    Fortunately, I am only here because I respect your personal thought process; taunting the simpletons is just sport for me. I long ago gave up on informing any of these types, they are immune to basic reasoning.

  52. Willy permalink
    January 24, 2017

    Baloney. Nobody here is immune to basic reasoning, if done by somebody wise enough to know how. You’re here to ruin this place.

  53. Ché Pasa permalink
    January 25, 2017

    If you’re ok with the structure and practice of contemporary politics and government, in other words you’re ok with the operational status quo, then this makes perfect sense. If you’re not, it’s not very useful.

    Even when the Know-Nothings amalgamated with the Republicans to fill the vacuum of the departed Whigs, it took a bloody civil war to… adjust… the system enough to significantly change its operations. The parties didn’t do it. The War did. And the changes weren’t stable (at least not for the civil rights elements).

    Part of the problem we’re facing now is the faltering effort to be radical within an operational status quo.

    Not working.

  54. realitychecker permalink
    January 25, 2017

    People, please don’t be idiots.

    I’ve been urging people to read the Declaration of Independence for at least ten years, starring back when NOBODY had the guts to print or permit the word “revolution” on a blog site.

    What the fuck do you think that means?

    I’ve argued that the Democratic Party was a waste of time for 10 years.

    I’ve argued for at least 7 years that the electoral process has become a bad joke that, by design, can never be expected to allow changes desired by regular folks.

    Add it up, see what you get.

  55. Hugh permalink
    January 25, 2017

    What is needed is clarity: Realize the nature of the game and stop playing it; realize where you want to go and go there. The parties and the political process are too corrupt and rigged to reform. So if you think the Democrats will learn the error of their ways or that Trump and the Republicans are going to improve your lives, you’ve lost before you’ve started. What you are seeing is not progress. It’s just, as Ian says, your life slowly being ratcheted away. All these arguments about giving Trump a chance, all these identity squabbles I see in the threads are just so much wasted time and effort. They are diversions and distractions. They are how class war is fought by the powers that be, and if you fall for them, those powers win and you lose. You fight them with clarity, knowing what you want and having the discipline to stay focused on that. And that’s where the second part of what I was saying above comes in. You have to have a clear idea of what you want, not a list but a vision, and that vision can not be about what just you want. It has to be about us. If we are ever to get clear of this wretched, evil mess we are in, we have to understand that it is our commitment to each other that will see us through.

  56. January 25, 2017

    >If you’re ok with the structure and practice of contemporary politics and government, in other words you’re ok with the operational status quo, then this makes perfect sense. If you’re not, it’s not very useful.

    Depends, are you talking about leader, or ordinary people?

  57. Publius permalink
    January 25, 2017

    How has Justin Trudeau undermined the Charter? I’m a newcomer to Canada from the US and trying to get a handle on the politics and history.

  58. Ché Pasa permalink
    January 26, 2017

    @Sterling

    The split between the People and their rulers has hardly ever been greater, not just in the US but all across the EuroAmerican landscape. The People have been trying to use the political system as it is to correct the obvious errors ruling class and the neoLiberal/neoConservative ruling paradigm with little or no success. The kind of rightist populism (so-called) we’re seeing rise in the western world is a manipulated and predicted reaction to the inability and failures of neoLiberalism and neoConservatism to serve the interests of the People.

    The irony is that this rightist populism, particularly in the US but elsewhere as well, reinforces the ruling paradigm, it doesn’t overthrow it or change it for the better.

    But that’s designed into the systems of politics and rule, most of which operate to prevent positive change insofar as possible.

    Party politics is not going to change the underlying dynamic. It reinforces it. The status quo is unthreatened by party politics. What changes is who holds and wields the levers of power — the leaders, if you will — and what their targets and emphases are. The ruling paradigm does not change.

    The only way that changes — for better or worse — is through a serious, sustained uprising, a revolution, or a civil war.

    We haven’t had a civil war for 150 years, and so far, every uprising or potential revolution has been crushed or co-opted by the ruling class/status quo. They are quite adept at it.

    But as the Trump regime devolves into utter chaos, it may not be possible to hold the center together. This time, the status quo may have met its match.

    As V. Arnold likes to say, “We’ll see.”

  59. V. Arnold permalink
    January 26, 2017

    @ Ché Pasa

    Yep, we’ll see.
    However, I’m not buying anything the U.S. government or its political system is selling.
    A veritable Potemkin Village; the revolution will not be televised because there will not be a revolution.
    Usians are pussies/pussified to impotence.
    Trump is shadow play; and not a very good one at that.
    Usians cannot see that which is in front of their faces; they’d better learn to see; because it’s the only reality they’ve got…

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