Evidently it took a pair of transgender sisters to give us a portent of the future, but perhaps not the one they intended. In their Matrix trilogy the then brothers Wachowski named their main character ‘Neo’. I’m not certain if they were aware of their prescience but it appears they have hit on the latest big thing in American politics.
From observations over the last several years, and clearer observations this election cycle, I am seeing the American two party system, which has dominated our politics for many a year, fracturing into four distinctly different parties. This is happening without some of the participants actively being aware of it. The role The Matrix plays in all of this is perhaps more syntactic than anything but were I to name these four new parties, the prefix “neo’ would be used more than once. More about this later.
Probably the oddest thing about these schisms is that traditional, 20th century, liberals and conservatives have been effectively left behind, scrambling to either align themselves with one of the new factions, aggressively hold on to their obsolete values a while longer, or give up on politics altogether. Perhaps this is because the issues and political philosophies of the last century no longer maintain an agreed upon clarity, or, as in some cases, they may not be relevant at all.
For most of the 20th Century Republicans and Democrats had modestly but obviously different outlooks on how best to service the nation. The operative phrase here is “serve the nation”. In those days both parties cared about serving the nation, and were not only able to work together to do just that but both liked and respected each other, for the most part.
But the politics of the early 21st Century has revealed itself to be dominated by rabid partisanship and a dedication not to serving the nation but to serving special and monied interests. The lust for power has replaced the common good as the prime motivator of the modern politician and their parties.
It isn’t surprising to me that both major parties appear to be splitting in two, with none of the resultant parties truly resembling it’s predecessor. This is because the lines dividing the previous two parties are no longer clearly defined. Currently we are seeing the development of a somewhat loose coalition of former progressive Democrats, Greens, pure Socialists and Democratic Socialists. This far left coalition has not been heretofore what one would call united, left wing politics normally being more identified with absolute correctness on pet issues than with forging partnerships.
They have been brought together this cycle by the candidacy of Senator Bernie Sanders. Having previously spent most of their time arguing over whose issues were more important they have come only lately to the idea of taking over the Democratic party. This “Neo-Socialist” party is the actual left wing party, right wing propaganda about our President notwithstanding, with social justice and a well regulated economy being their major issues.
Many of the remaining Democrats joined by some moderate Republicans comprise the Neo-Liberal party. Having been around in Europe for some time the Neo-Liberals have a socially liberal platform but their economic ideas run more toward the corporate capitalist model. They claim to be liberal on the flimsy idea that they support benevolent corporations instead of malevolent ones. Flimsy indeed. They are the center left party, or to those with a different vantage point, the center right party.
On the right we find the Neo-Conservatives, basically the mainstream Republicans of the 90’s and early aughts’s. This party’s platform is based in militarism and right wing Christian morality. It’s new role as a separate party came about because of a split in the traditional Republican Party, a result of Republican pandering to the Libertarian minded Tea Party. The Neo-Cons once held great power in the country, but over the years their credentials as true conservatives have been called into question. As of now they neither fully resemble the party of lower taxes or small government.
The Tea party’s premise lies in a basic mistrust of a government they feel has failed them, is incompetent, spends the public’s hard earned tax dollars foolishly, rewards laziness and disrespects hard working Americans. They have no problem with completely discarding traditional means of operating government in order to get their way. To them compromise is betrayal and treasonous. When the Republicans could not make good on their promises to this faction the Tea Party held them hostage through a small but united caucus of congressmen/women, a critical mass of votes in the House of Representatives that could quash any legislation it did not favor.
This Tea Party extended or as I have called it, in moments of weakness, the Neo-Anderthal Party (Shame on you Will Servant) bases its political philosophy on anti politics. They despise politics as usual and politicians in general for being corrupt and feckless and find common ground in wild and free capitalism, xenophobia, poorly disguised racism, white supremacism and authoritarianism. Or should I just say fascism.
What used to be a substantial independent voting bloc has been reduced to mainly the legitimate personality voters, the I vote for the person not the party folks, and dazed and confused former traditionalists from both former major parties. These include but are not confined to traditional Republicans who can neither relate to what they perceive as the drunken sailor spending of the neocons nor the thinly veiled hatred of the “Tea Party”. Former Democrats include those who cannot cotton to the corporatism of the neo-liberals or what they see as the excessive permissiveness of the Neo-Socialists.
But this group of “independents” which is really a misnomer, is smaller than before. The electoral focus of new this four party world will not so much be on winning over the smaller group of independents but on convincing people that they know the best way out of the desert and can lead us through the thick forestation of the complex issues we face as we head closer to the quarter pole of the 21st century.
The most these new parties can hope for under this Neo-Parliamentary (See how I threw that Neo thing in there again) system is to gain the largest plurality of the electoral college vote for their presidential candidate and have the most congressional victors, so they will have the most leverage in forming a governing coalition. This will represent a whole new era in American governance.
While I am obviously not right about all of this I feel that an eventual multi party system will breathe life into American politics and lead to more work getting done all around for the largest and most important special interest group, the American people.
The danger in all of this is that, as we are currently getting big hints about, the chaos surrounding the collapse of the two party system could lead America into a totalitarian strongman government, which would plunge the world into conflict that could make WWII look like a paintball match. “We the People” can’t allow that to happen. Lot’s of people have ideas, many of them good, of how to best turn the darkness into light. I have one too.
Perhaps my strongest feeling regarding the presidential race of 2016, with all of it’s fascinating and frightening subplots, is that those who wish to establish separate parties on either side of the increasingly more centrist major parties are concentrating way too much on the election viability of their candidates and not enough on the actual party building that is necessary for them to become viable. There are way more people out there, on both sides of the constitutional divide, than the intellectuals they have a tendency to bubble with. The average guys and gals and others who comprise most of the electorate really don’t have a clue, they son’t get it, and it’s going to take a s..t load of work to get them to understand the dynamic of life in the 21st century. So folks, build your base with knowledge and sincerity and hard work before you can expect electoral success.
On the other hand the traditional parties are scrambling to hold together what base they have left. They are precariously scratching together the traditional coalitions that have, at various times, bought them victory. They have been so busy throwing up bandaids that they have forgotten how to develop good candidates. They have been at each others throats so long that victory has become the ultimate goal instead of public service. They nominate professional election winners instead of stateswomen. And what has it wrought? The two least likable candidates in USA history. So all four of our future major parties have their work cut out for them. The neo-revolution will manifest differently for all of them, but it won’t happen tomorrow.
Our modern power structure has been built to withstand a traditional revolution. The revolution must be in the education of the public, in changing the paradigm. It must happen from the inside out. It’s like making wine or beer. It’s a process and it can’t be rushed or the final product suffers. Virtually all revolutionaries who went over the top too early, before they had a solid base, a leg to stand on, have failed. Some were successful early and then failed soon thereafter, some just plain failed. Telling someone burning with a passion to make everything right, who can’t stand it anymore, that they have to chill, is at best difficult and at worst impossible. But it is as valid a position as any that says we must tear down the house. Because it’s real.
After years of study, observation and research the oligarchs have perfected their methods of co-opting revolution by protest. They own law enforcement and the media. Never again will protesters in the streets have the influence they had in the 60’s. Violent revolution will be met with overwhelming force, as the oligarchs also own the military. Those means are lost to us. Frankly, in my estimation, the only way to bring about re-evolution in this climate is through the system, through good, old fashioned, American democracy.
The oligarchs have manipulated organizations to oppress the population but they have yet to oppress the people themselves, and will not be able to. That is the beauty of our democracy. The people actually do have the power. We have simply been coerced into not using it properly. We must display patience and restraint as the incremental change that will bring about continued peace can come about. The messiah Sanders has said so himself. He has told the people to get their butts off the floor, dry their tears and do the hard work of teaching, organizing, living and loving until the world they envision comes to pass. This is the true revolution, a revolution of the soul, first of the individual, and then of the nation.
As an aging hippie I have hoped for a real revolution, without guns but with hearts, for many years. I worry that I won’t see it.
But most of you will.