Wednesday, June 22, 2005

GARY HART On Saving American Parties

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From OrcinusKKK march in DC after WWI

Main stream media wonders what is going wrong. They are hemmoraging viewers and readers or the people using their services are increasingly loud and critical. The mainstream parties are wondering what is going wrong, too. According to pollsters, support for politicians across the board in both parties which have had a 150 year death grip on America, is collapsing. The people responsible for this can't understand it because they are the root cause. And the last thing they want to do is ask anyone outside of themselves, what is wrong.

Yet another politician gives it a stab.

From former Presidential runner, Gary Hart, at Alternet.com:
American political parties, as we have known them for two centuries, are disintegrating. They are being replaced by shifting coalitions that are forming and reforming constantly. This transition is leaving an awful lot of Americans adrift.

Because most of our founders did not trust the idea of political parties, they came into existence only reluctantly. Parties seemed too much like the dreaded "factions" that had arisen in Europe, what today we would call interest groups, concerned more with their own good than the common good. America's founders, steeped in the ancient Greek and Roman republican ideal, wanted their new fellow citizens to be concerned with the commonwealth. The more people fell into or formed narrow or special interest groups, the less they would be committed to the ideal of the new republic, that which was held in common by all and over which all were sovereign.

One of the highest compliments for a citizen of the founding era was to be called "disinterested." That did not mean uninterested. It meant not interested in one's own concerns at the expense of the commonwealth. The founders held the quaint notion that if we were all concerned, or interested, in what we held in common we would all benefit individually. Likewise, the more a citizen was interested in getting only what was best for him and those like him, the more corrupt the American republic would become.
This naive belief that there was once a magical time when we were "pure" and a love for America and democracy trumped other concerns...like keeping human chattel, for example. Of course, there never was such a time. From the very first hours of the revolution, the special interests stepped in and warped and even maybe ultimately destroyed any possibility of true democracy and true freedom. The fact that the Constitution itself enshrined outright slavery and harnessed it into strengthening the political power of slave owners by giving their slaves a profile in deciding the number of "voters" in Congress, these poor nonvoters being counted as 3/5 a voter!---this organization immediately launched upon a life long campaign of imperialist expansion, buying from other imperial nations or outright attacking other empires and wresting away lands for our own use or using trickery to con stone age people into signing away their own homes and then herding them off to reservations which were the model for Nazi Germany's imperialism.

We were never innocent.
But, by the late 18th Century, parties arose, largely dividing between the Federalists led by Hamilton who saw the need for a strong central or national government, with a national bank and national army, and the Republicans led by Jefferson who suspected the power of the state and preferred local authority and local control. As the Federalists were by and large Northern merchants and traders and the Republicans were by and large Southern landowners and farmers, the issue of slavery, unresolved in the founding era and documents, also came forcefully into play.
See what a lifetime of propaganda does? Slavery was "resolved" right there in the Constitution. The "compromise" was to stop raiding Africa and shipping over the miserable victims and enslaving them. But it merely opened a new industry in the south: raping slave women and then selling off their children. Instead of working slaves to death, the rising value of slaves meant they were fed enough to survive somewhat. So the number of slaves, which were expected to decline after the Revolution, rose. Neither the North nor the South wanted to see more African heritage people so the ending of importation caused rising tension as slavery spread and grew very rapidly, setting the stage for another confrontation: the Civil War. Abolitionists wanted to grant civil rights and liberties to slaves and they treated the refugees of slavery like humans and tried hard to reach the hearts and minds of the American people to understand and show mercy towards black skinned people.

After the Civil War, support of former slaves fell until the 1920's when America was wracked by lynchings and blacks lost all their civil rights and Jim Crow was enforced with an iron fist which interested Hitler who wanted to implement the same regime in Germany, as he wrote in "Mein Kampf".
Over the following two centuries the industrial revolution, the Civil War, and America's emergence as a world power all caused tidal waves and tectonic shifts in power structures and coalitions. Well before the 20th Century the two major parties had come to exert hierarchical control over virtually all political processes, including the nomination of candidates for office, at the national and state levels. They were the conduits for campaign financing, access to the media, dissemination of political information, the structuring of ideas and policies, and the exercise of political discipline.

In recent years, however, the parties' entire role and therefore their power has been collapsing. If a candidate is clever enough and has something to say, he or she can get direct access to the media. As political entrepreneurs, most candidates now raise their own financing and depend on money from the parties less and less. Candidates form their own policy groups or court the flourishing idea forums that span the political spectrum. Self-confident and ambitious candidates put themselves forward for any office they desire, up to and including the presidency, without seeking the approval of party officials. Individual office-seekers form their own coalitions by shopping for support among the smorgasbord of interest groups.
Party power isn't collapsing. Popular support is "changing" but this is mostly an artifact of what I call "the Great Change-Over" aka "the Southern Strategy" which Nixon cravenly put into motion, handing over the GOP to southern racists in wake of the passage of the Civil Rights Act.

This monolithic white Christian voting bloc has always been in operation, it has simply oozed over to the opposite party over the last fifty years. This process of oozing is nearly done. Once they finish, they will then revert all GOP programs to be the mirror image of the Democratic program in the first half of the 20th Century: creating Jim Crow and ruthlessly enforcing it.
Except for the ideologically devout, voters likewise are shaking loose the bonds of party loyalty and more and more joining the third party, the independents, either figuratively or literally. To a degree, the process becomes self-fulfilling. As voters less and less need the party to tell them what to think and whom to vote for, the parties more and more retreat to their hardcore ideological bases, thus further alienating mainstream voters who are less doctrinaire partisans and more eclectic individuals.

Finally, the information revolution disintegrates old media and political structures. Virtually anyone in America today can organize his or her own individual information network tailored to his or her increasingly individual concerns. Nothing symbolizes this stunning fact more than the explosion of personal blog sites. Now everyone has opinions and a forum, the Internet, for expressing them. We are all consumers and producers of opinions if not also "news." You can choose to focus your attention on defense and foreign policy, or fiscal and monetary policy, or health care and education, or the environment, or anyone of hundreds of individual areas of interest, or any collection of them. You don't have to adopt an entire party platform, in any case a kind of 19th Century exercise that has become basically meaningless. You can write your own platform. You can be a party of one. And that is increasingly what millions of Americans are becoming.
What third parties? The Perot people tried to start one and it was taken over by pro-GOP right wingers who then strangled it to death and it is now gone, isn't it? As for the left, it remains shattered as always. The fabled "independent voter" seems to be a feeble figure indeed. This disorganized "group" isn't anything at all and is so politically naive and helpless that it is nearly entirely disregarded by the GOP who simply play to their own voters which is why they are so unpopular but so powerful.

You can't be "none of the above" and be taken seriously.

Lordy, I do wish us bloggers were as powerful as they say we are. But we have to be realistic. The left bloggers supported Conyers and Durbin 100% but they were forced to "apologize" to the neo fascists who didn't apologize for the lynchings, refusing to sign the lynching apology. This happened because the powerful mass media focused non stop on attacking his words which accurately described our neo-Soviet tortures as hideous. This bellowing right wing media storm worked as usual. An honest person was forced to retreat. This is exactly how they stole the election in 2000. Every media outlet was screaming for Gore to not count the votes. "Don't divide America!' they shrieked so the winner with the most votes retreated and he smiled as he rang down the hammer on himself in the Senate, giving the gloss of legality on the theft of our Presidency even as the Black Caucus begged him to not cooperate. He thought, he would come back in glory and retake the office he won.

The mass media insured this would never happen for instantly, they began to attack him every time he spoke. He retreated deeper and deeper into the shadows until now---look at him! A nonperson! He gives great speeches that no news media covers except on rare occasions to pick him apart viciously! They are trying this on Dean who has held his ground...barely. But he is being marginalized just like Gary Hart himself.
Out of power, the watchword among Democrats, and many independents, is: "I don't know what the Democrats stands for." That's because the Party's old coalition -- traditional liberals, labor, minorities, women, environmentalists, and internationalists -- is in the process of disappearing and a new one has yet to be formed. Millions of people wait to hear what the 21st Century Democratic Party stands for, and Democratic Party "leaders" are not saying until they see what the new coalition is going to look like. They are afraid of taking principled stands for fear of alienating some group they think they need. So there is a kind of stand-off. Voters afloat want to hear what the Party has to say, and the Party is trying to find out what they want to hear.
No, no. Special interests that are citizen groups wanting civil rights isn't breaking up the party! Gads. What is breaking up all of America is the idea that we have to get rid of our civil rights in order to be powerful and rich! My abortion didn't affect anyone but myself. But the economic policies Bush is pursuing is affecting me, my children and all my community! My private choices changed hardly anything outside of my own home but the public choices of the GOP and DNC have had a hammer's blow affect on everyone and everything around me!

The GOP wants to run everyone's private lives while not letting us run anything public. This is what "privatization" is all about: turning these two things inside out. So pollution is "private" and my pregnancy rate is "public"! The vast majority of Americans don't want this but there has been a neat lure attached that has given the GOP great power and is destroying America: bribes.

Just as corporate America bribes politicians to do their bidding, the politicians in turn, bribe the voters. Tax cuts and running the government deep in the red works...in the short run. Everyone has been feasting on the carcass of America like hyenas on the Veldt. The desire to be rich quick and pay no attention to the mountain of debt we are building is what our democracy has become. This isn't new. The "gold rush" mentality has been part of us from day one!
We Americans, though, are a nation of independent, socially tolerant, fiscally cautious, environmentally concerned, well-informed, globally-conscious citizens. This pretty much leaves most of us adrift, at least from the two old parties and the increasingly dogmatic, rigid, orthodox, intolerant neo-Republican party, a cabal that seems intent only on consolidating political power in fewer and fewer hands, reducing its elected officials and judges to disciplined automatons, protecting corporate excess, secret policy making, and forcing all of us to become fundamentalist Christians of the sort that would make even John Calvin appear liberal.
This is all a delusion. We can't flatter ourselves anymore. Whenever we want, we ditch internationalism. Look at after 9/11! The world embraced us and we kicked them in the teeth! The poor French are still dealing with the anti-French hysteria the media and Bush and both political parties stirred up when we marched off to commit war crimes in Iraq! It hasn't ended! And the French were trying to save us from folly!

We are the number one polluters on the planet. We are the number one consumers of oil and the number one cause of global warming. We are collectively growing grossly fat and are living way beyond our means and we suck up all available world credit to feed our bottomless desire for cheap debts so we can continue to pollute and consume like crazy. I see little sign of anyone being disturbed by our refusal to sign the Kyoto Accords. Indeed, we sneer at it. The consolidation of power in the hands of neo-fascists is due entirely to the fact that Americans want to have the world and eat it too.

People forget what motivates fascism: greed. God Bless America is a fascist statement. For it assumes that God doesn't bless other nations. America, Number One, is a fascist statement. Proof? Both were used by Hitler. Gott Mit Uns and Deutschland Ueber Alles.
Over and beyond this traditional party-based struggle for power is the greater tsunami overtaking the very nature of partisan politics itself. The old party structures are becoming obsolete. The prize of future power will go to the next Machiavelli, the next Montesquieu, the next Bismarck, the next Jefferson who both appreciates, before all others, that we are in a totally new political age, an age beyond traditional political parties, and then creates the next political paradigm.

May I provide some hints: this paradigm will be based upon authentic and original American principles, it will also be enlightened and informational, it will be participatory and decentralized, it will be empowering, and it will incorporate the ideals of the democratic republic. Most of all it will be politically transformational and it will become so by restoring our deepest beliefs, our sense of national honor, integrity, dignity, courage, and duty.
What do we believe in? Elections? Hahaha. Yeah, right. Counting votes? Holy moly. If only! For 90% of our history, America worked hard to prevent huge numbers of people from voting! Decentralized? No empire is that. We are an empire. We have troops in nearly every nation on earth except for China and Russia. Both of whom are reconsolidating in to a much stronger union than under communism. And both hold a huge amount of our debts and have interesting plans for this mountain of debt they plan to avalanche upon our silly heads.

The new leader? Lord help us, I fear who this might be.
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