The Two-Party State

It is fairly easy for any left-of-center entities to agree on some of the problems that afflict the United States; the military-industrial complex, corporate influence on elections, the War on Drugs and the prison-industrial complex, and so on.

However, a more serious problem has become increasingly clear, especially with the latest Presidential election cycle.  Given that American democracy is structurally designed to crush any attempt at forming a Third Party, what are Americans to do about those issues that both parties–the Democrats and the Republicans–agree on?  Incidentally, many of the aforementioned issues plaguing modern society are precisely the issues that have bipartisan support.

This is a problem that created an amusing scuffle between Democrats and the more radical progressives.  The latter group, frustrated with Obama’s expansive militarism and erosion of civil liberties, in addition to his lack of necessary process on energy and environmental issues, wished to vote for a third party.  The former was enraged at this prospect, attacking this strategy as essentially voting for Romney, and a far worse President–and future.

Clearly, both sides have a point.  The purpose of a representative democracy is for all citizens to have a free voice in choosing their desired representative–ideally, somebody who reflects their own views on politics, economics, and society.  Ideally, those dissatisfied with Obama ought to have the ability to vote for a third party.  But at the same time, those aligned with the Democrats have a point in that given the structure of American elections, third parties are essentially a joke, a form of protest, that really have no meaningful ability to compete with the enormous amounts of capital that back the two main political parties.  Voting for a third party is essentially the same as not voting at all.  The only way that third parties can influence the elections, is if a candidate actually loses due to a “split” in the vote–but nobody wants that, because then the right-wing candidate would win.

Therefore, elections are essentially a hostage situation, where the so-called leftist candidate only needs to be a teeny bit more left-leaning than the opponent.  Even if there is a substantial ideological gap between the actual voting base and the candidate, fear of the dreaded alternative will keep the base in check.  What we have today (and have had, for the entirely of modern times) is a two-party state, one that is closely aligned with business interests, and loth to concede political or economic power to the working class.  Such is clear from examining where Obama and Romney fall on the political compass.

Such an analysis poses a problem for traditional liberals, who seek to resolve all conflicts through the apparatus of the representative-democratic state.  What might be their solution when that very apparatus is revealed to be the source of the problem?

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