Class Warfare Blog

July 27, 2018

The Problem with Bases

No this is not about baseball. It is about our two main political parties and their “bases.”

The Republicans have sold their souls to the Religious Right, neoliberals, and reactionaries of the fringe of the right wing of American politics to get and stay elected, no matter the damage done. They haven’t dumped the rich as a core base element for who else would they serve? The Democrats have dumped their historic base of labor (working class people), minorities, and the less wealthy for the professional class, only to find out there aren’t enough of those to win them elections.

When I was young (I first showed an interest in politics when Eisenhower was president.) Republicans were stabilizers. They supported the institutions that kept out society stable (in their HO, of course). They supported the schools, the police, the military, the government (Right or Wrong!), the church, law and the courts, and so on. The complained when political or judicial opinions went the other way, but they didn’t threaten to take their ball and go home.

When I was young, the Democrats stood for fairness, helping the poor, balanced taxation, labor unions, and they were far from anti-war (both Kennedy and Johnson expanded the Vietnam War tremendously on specious grounds at best).

Neither party was worth a damn when it came to international relations. There was a small fringe who complained loudly about foreign aid, which has always been a spit in the bucket financially. (Somewhere along the line instead of giving technical aid and money to other countries, we now give them discounts on buy the weapons of war. Apparently as far as the U.S. goes peace and freedom don’t go together.)

Politically there was as much corruption then as is the standard now, but the stakes were smaller as were the amounts grafted by our politicians. But each party had some principled actors who kept the others in line. Often the “line” was racist or sexist, but there were lines and you could, as ordinary citizens, see them and attack them or try to move them.

Now, what I see is cowardice and incompetence (to he left of me, to the right of me, …) in our political bodies. Leadership? Not to be found? Intelligence? So little that the political class cannot evaluate whether their intelligence experts are to be trusted. Political astuteness? I can’t even find a politician who can define it. Deft policy drafters? Give me a break.

If we were to have a parliamentary system as has been suggested, these two parties would dwindle away to nothing and newer, more robust, more coherent parties would take their places. But as I have posted before, our political system is rigged. As much as the Founders feared political parties, they created a system that allowed two of those parties to hijack the system. (Our winner take all elections doom us to having just two dominant parties.) And, it is clear that the Founders feared true democracy, so they structured the Constitution against that.

I am absolutely gob smacked that the “press” still posts articles addressing the public will. They tell us, for example, that the Roe v. Wade SCOTUS decision has never been so popular. So? Since when has public opinion been a determining factor in anything governmental? Large majorities of citizens want background checks for all firearms sales; does that matter? A large majority of people want corporations to pay more in taxes; does that matter? If you are poor or middle class you have zero chance of affecting legislation. If you are rich and a campaign donor, then you have some chance. If you are a rich corporate lobbyist and have donated large sums, then you have not only a chance to affect the outcome, you may be invited in to help write (or write completely) the text of the bill.

If the Republican Party of my youth or the Democratic Party of my youth were still in existence, I could vote for the kinds of candidates either party proffered. As they are now, I cannot vote for either party as they both are embarrassments and anti-democratic and need to go.

26 Comments »

  1. But if we had a parliamentary system, we’d still have the same stupid voters. People who can be swayed by hype, and prefer to vote with their “tribe” than to think about things for themselves. I’m not persuaded that it would make things any better. The next step I’d like to see if real campaign finance reform, so that the rich can’t continue to throw gobs of money at manipulating the votes of the poor or uninformed.

    Liked by 2 people

    Comment by Ubi Dubium — July 27, 2018 @ 11:56 am | Reply

    • My point is that our current parties have died on the vine, but are still held up by the trellis they created (no matter how incompetent they are, they will still be “in power”). They would be quite unpopular now were there reasonable alternatives (and there are not because the system is rigged so that there will not be). The “corporations are people, too” and Citizen’s United decisions are part of the problem but if you want campaign finance reform, the US is going in the completely opposite direction. If Judge Kavanaugh gets confirmed to the SCOTUS, you will not have any meaningful reform of that kind for at least the next 50 years.

      Liked by 1 person

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 27, 2018 @ 12:02 pm | Reply

  2. I agree completely Steve. I quit picking sides and until a viable third option is available I’m staying out of it. It’s just is every level of crazy.

    Like

    Comment by jim- — July 27, 2018 @ 12:16 pm | Reply

    • I am seriously considering the Democratic Socialist party. Their approach seems to be having more than a little success in Europe.

      On Fri, Jul 27, 2018 at 12:16 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Liked by 3 people

      Comment by Steve Ruis — July 27, 2018 @ 12:25 pm | Reply

      • Curious if you saw Branyans attempt to smear you about today? His comments are closed on the post. He’s a prick

        Like

        Comment by jim- — July 27, 2018 @ 2:40 pm | Reply

  3. You guys seriously need to get money out of politics. If you build and maintain a trough, you will attrack the pigs.

    Liked by 5 people

    Comment by john zande — July 27, 2018 @ 1:52 pm | Reply

  4. Steve,

    I agree. Your historical synopsis is correct. I have been a political Independent now for some 26-years. I’ve voted for both Democrat and Republican in those years, however, the ratio probably leans to the liberal side — I was raised by an engineer and scientist. And I must agree wtih JZ about the truck-loads of money in our politics. That BULLSHIT must go before any lasting reforms can stick.

    Like

    Comment by Professor Taboo — July 27, 2018 @ 2:56 pm | Reply

  5. I remember Ike. OK, not that well, was born in 1947 so…. I do remember Dad liked Stevenson even though he had followed Ike and Patton from North Africa to Sicily and then France. Like you, it was the mid 1950’s and there was a difference that anybody with eyes could see.
    On an odd tangent of sorts. Once upon a time, early 20th century, the elephant gang was anti war.
    I have a question also. Just what,or who are this middle class so many folks talk about? My opinion, middle class are the managers of small banks, like your branch of whatever bank you use and others, maybe dentists, doctors (medical). I was born into the working class. Yes, I know teachers are working class, as are the vast majority of Americans. Well, they were when we was kids. Now days the working class is nearly gone. The working class made the things everybody bought, used, drove on, etc..
    As to our leaders and brains, when I was in the USMC, we had this saying about rank and smarts. Rank is inversely proportional to intelligence. Higher the rank, fewer smarts. Since 9/11 just stop and take a look at the military leadership the US has had. Most of the generals and admirals are political players who could not beat up 3 determined 2 year olds in a pre school sandbox.

    Like

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — July 27, 2018 @ 4:47 pm | Reply

  6. One more comment just to clarify my politics. The first election I could vote in was 1972, after my enlistment was over. Had to be 21 in California back then.
    By the time I got home, it was too late for me to get a sample ballot. (Nice memories of those neat things from my days in SoCal, we do not have them in Loosey Annie) I knew I’d not vote for (not so very) tricky Dick, but who would I vote for? I got in the voting booth and looked at the ballot. Wow! There was a party running for POTUS and even congress called the “Peace and Freedom Party”. Well, hells bells, I like peace, having been through war, and freedom sure sounds like something we all might enjoy. That party got my vote for every office they had a candidate running for. I usually voted for that party just my own small way of trying to throw a monkey wrench into the gummint machinery. I found out some years later, mid 1980’s, they were/are(?) socialists. Big deal, my vote, my choice of what party got my vote. I don’t know if they are still a viable party, just know they never got on the ballot here. The Socialist Equality Party sounds interesting, but I need to look at them more. I did vote for Carter in 1980. Mostly due to Dad not allowing the name of ‘saint’ Ronnie to be spoken in his house. Dad was still pissed at Ronnie for the mess he made of California while he was the governor.
    Supposedly, we get more conservative as we age. Funny, but I didn’t follow that plot line, I think old Marx was a damn wimp, no guts no glory Karl.

    Like

    Comment by Walter Kronkat — July 27, 2018 @ 5:26 pm | Reply

  7. I think one party is an embarrassment, and another is a disaster, so the embarrassment party is going to get my vote about 90% of the time. The 10% would generally occur when I have to weigh a major embarrassment against a largely mitigated disaster – like, say, voting for a Republican governor or attorney general in my deep blue state with a permanently Democrat-controlled legislature.
    Not sure I ever going to vote third party when an election looks in any way close.

    Like

    Comment by List of X — August 7, 2018 @ 12:39 pm | Reply

    • This is the problem with out winner-take-all electoral system. There will forever be only two significant candidates for high offices. Those candidates are vetted by political parties that are in the pockets of wealthy donors. Donald Trump was a genius for getting through the GOP vetting process largely unvetted. The other candidates were so lame that we had to choose between a charlatan and a candidate that represented a despised status quo so well that she should have been running on the Status Quo ticket.

      This makes third parties tremendously difficult to get going, which is why Bernie is probably trying to reform the Dems from within … lotsa luck with that. (The quote most appropriate for that task is “It is hard to remember you are there to drain the swamp, when you are up to your ass in alligators.”)

      On Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 12:39 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

      >

      Like

      Comment by Steve Ruis — August 7, 2018 @ 12:49 pm | Reply

      • Yes, unfortunately, our election system probably was destined to lead to coalescing of the voters into two parties. In a way, it’s the oversight on the part of the founding fathers, but I’m hesitant to blame them, since they’ve been trying to create a model of government that hasn’t really been well-tested back in the 18th century.

        Like

        Comment by List of X — August 7, 2018 @ 1:13 pm | Reply

        • The Founders were mostly dead set against political parties in the first place, which makes this rather ironic. Of course, they envisioned a system that would change itself over time to adjust to new realities. Instead we have morphed into a mob of near religious “original intent” idiots that ignore that fact over and over.

          On Tue, Aug 7, 2018 at 1:13 PM, Class Warfare Blog wrote:

          >

          Like

          Comment by Steve Ruis — August 7, 2018 @ 1:16 pm | Reply


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