Saturday, October 05, 2013

The parties are over--time for another one

"A true peace would eliminate the overt and structural violence."
--Kent Shifferd (2011, p. 103)

When I was growing up, far back into the previous millennium, children were told constantly that one of the really superior factors in the US form of government was all the freedom of the two-party system. It was compared favorably to every other system; the commies had just one party and the parliamentary forms of government were little more than squabbling splinter groups of niche ideologies who could suffer no-confidence regime changes suddenly and at random points, not like our regular, stable elections.

There is truth in that analysis and there are assumptions that don't hold.

We see now what our two-party system can do under the influence of permanent war. We are bellicose and broke, residuals that conspire to shut it down. The Republicans just didn't get enough war and social Darwinism during Bush's two terms; they hunger for the monochromatic Manichean world they created, one in which the Bush Doctrine (You're either in line following us or you're with the terrorists) permits them instant emnification of all opponents. Everything boils down to Just War, justifiable homicide, and lethal force for them. The Democrats want all this too, but they want to be liked. They want to bribe blocs of voters with social spending but without any meaningful cuts in military spending. Even in the shutdown, Obama exempts the military.

"There's no partisan agenda here. The Democrats and Republicans are partners in war, and I have no loyalty to either of them."
--David Swanson (2013, p. 18)

So, OK, there are some differences, including some responses to climate chaos. The Democrats seem to want to run a more green imperial war machine, invading and occupying with biofuels and perhaps some solar-powered or hybrid diesel electric Humvees. The Republicans seem almost eschatologically devoted to keeping their collective heads stuck in the tar sands. While Obamacare is reviled as having death panels, the Tea Party flat Earth thinkers seem to be considering the death of the biosphere as part of their God's plan and their policies are patently "bring it on" reckless.
In the end, the choice between these two related evils is still evil. We are past due for some radical change toward real equality, real security, real ecological protection--perhaps we are due, finally, for the advent of a Green Party surge. The Greens, at least, have nonviolence as a core value, so the rest might fall into line if we honestly seek some structural nonviolence, some turnaround in the destruction of our web of life, and some authentic justice. We will have a two-party hangover for a long time, but we can shift the trends now. Greens have been a force in Europe since the 1980s; they are just getting to the national level here and if we are lucky they can escalate their impact.


Shifferd, Kent D. (2011). From war to peace: A guide to the next hundred years. Jefferson, NC: McFarland.

Swanson, David (2013). War no more: The case for abolition. Charlottesville, VA: self-published.

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