Recent reluctance of the GOP to acknowledge the President’s lead in the polls is just one of the visible bubbles of ignorance at the right wing. These bubbles are helping the GOP float farther to the right, after being pushed by the Tea Party. Such shift does not only affect the conservatives but also upsets the balance of power, showing, in the process, the immense power of balance. Just as the Republican Party’s shift over the edge of radical right-wing philosophy is pulling the Democratic Party further to the centre, or indeed, sometimes to the right, the lunacy of the Republicans is creating a safe haven for Democrats too. Particularly Mr. Obama, who’s doing nothing  (and, looking at the debate, not even defending doing nothing even though he could point out more aggressively to the conservative obstructionism), and yet is able not to be dismissed by the liberal voters on the basis of not having a good record. Immigration policy (where Obama has more or less done nothing specific) is a good example. He still isn’t criticised for his lack of action (with minikin exceptions ), because the haunting alternative is Mitt Romney’s graceful offer not to deport 12 million people immediately.
It shows precisely what the weakness of the bipartisan system is. The Republican Party is becoming the political force for the fringe, and the Democratic party is becoming the political force for the non-existent middle-class . This division is based on ideas, not people’s support, as the latter doesn’t seem to be in line with their real interests. And the vast majority of people is not represented ideologically in the political discourse at all. It is perhaps most notable in the lack of a labour party in the United States . The wealthy may be loosely associated with the conservatives and the remains of the middle-class may be well-suited to be represented by the liberals, but the working-class is left unrepresented. U.S. Labor Party, largely a vehicle for Lyndon LaRouche to run for President in 1976 and not a real political movement, only survived for 6 years, and no successor has ever surfaced. Libertarian Party is not only insignificant, but also positioned in between the two main parties, precisely in the spot which doesn’t need to be filled.
If Marx was right and the materialism is primal then why are the economic discussion so flawed? Could it be that it is culture, concept much broader than materialism, which is primal? Or perhaps it is mix of the two, where the wealthy allow their materialism to be primal in supporting tax cuts for themselves and the offshoring of money to be freed of taxation, and the masses allow their culture to be primal, in hope that they too will eventually become rich, and ignore the fact that laws are tailored for the rich and not for them. Culture, if we’re to conclude that it’s being primal, would have another interesting result. Marx wrote that ‘Men make their own history, but they do not make it as they please; they do not make it under self-selected circumstances, but under circumstances existing already, given and transmitted from the past.’ The reasons for there being only two major political parties in the United States are largely historic and intertwined with social and cultural development of the country. The early years of the republic marked the USA as a country distinct from its European counterparties, in that everyone in the USA had been an immigrant. That had a huge impact on the culture: the diversity of the people meant that for the country to stick together the culture had to be strongly divisive across great issues, between black and white, good and evil, but also avoid being weakly divisive between the shades of grey and moral grey areas at all costs. The way in which USA have surfaced meant that the culture was largely monochrome, as not to confuse the differing masses, in contrast with largely sophisticated, old cultures of the European countries. Lately the culture grew slightly more sophisticated in the United States [Zizek] but the political scene hasn’t followed. And it doesn’t look as if the culture is ready for a more sophisticated political scene any time soon, and so it will stay the way it is for the time being. Third Party is neither realistic nor would it be helpful if it could be put in a position of considerable power.
Perhaps a third major party would add a little sophistication into the balancing of the political scene, making it less wobbly, but I don’t believe it would make a great difference in the political system which the United States uses. If the politics is about public relations more than about real issues, which proposition seems to be supported by the way in which the current campaign is being driven, then I see no difference between a beauty contest in which there are two or three peacock farms. On the other hand if the politics is about real issues and actual problems then we have to look a the American political system and realise that the President has more to say than the parliament, ergo the system is being lead by individuals rather than political parties, unlike the parliamentary systems in continental Europe. Therefore we are left to conclude that the hope is not in bringing a third party to the table, but rather in bringing sanity and reason into the political scene through judicious politicians.
Michael Foucault wrote ‘Confined in the ship, from which it is impossible to escape, the madman is confined to the thousand branches of the river, the thousand paths of the sea, to this great uncertainty external to everything. He is a prisoner in the midst of the most free, the most open of roads: chained solidly to an infinite crossroads.’ and perhaps it is the case that politicians confined in the stale structures can nonetheless find many ways in which to develop the country, but as it stands no one is fighting for the left-wing principles, and the cross-roads seem woefully skewed.
There seems to be no way out of this political misery. You can either conclude, as Marx perhaps would have done, that the whole system will spin more and more out of balance until it collapses unto itself. Or you can perhaps take a more optimistic view, believing as classical economics does, that the system will spontaneously reach an equilibrium by people getting impatient with the current state of affairs, and employing political pressure to push the whole system back into a proper balance. I’ve no way of telling which option will realise, but whichever the case it seems that the long-term path of the political scene is far more important and far more interesting than the forthcoming elections, but it is the debates that are grabbing people’s attention, into the political vox nihili and out of the impending troubles.
This essay first appeared in The Firebrand Magazine.