Third Party & Independents Archives

Sanitation workers for House and Senate!

Is anybody else sick and tired of mainstreamist hand wringing over the excessive political partisanship and the “lack of civility” inherent to contemporary Republican-Democratic politics? The national media have been predicting for some time that this is going to be the most bitter, partisan, gutter-politicking presidential campaign in modern American history, but now that things finally seem to have begun heating up, it looks like the press-corpse is afraid it may have actually gotten something right.

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer, for instance, is having second thoughts on the matter, and has this piece of advice for the Congress: enough with the name-calling.

To those of us who would look forward to watching the ruling parties tear themselves to tatters, such an attitude is virtually incomprehensible. What would the press rather have our Republican and Democratic politicians do? Purport to educate children and administer medical care only to have to conduct a witch hunt or a white wash to find out who wasn't responsible for the dumbening of the public and the deterioration of its health? And the product is only ever "twice as worse" when the parties work together.

According to the currently fashionable wisdom, the parties are driven to pursue ever greater stupidities because their respective "bases" are moving toward opposite political and ideological extremes. However, in an expanding political universe, each base would itself be subject to expansion. In other words, the constituent factions of each party's base would also moving away from one another. So much seems apparent in the right wing's outrage at the nomination of Arlen Specter as the "GOP senatorial candidate" in Pennsylvania, as well as the left wing's lack of enthusiasm for the candidacy of John Kerry.

Those on the left who feel that John Kerry and the Democratic Party possess a foreign policy far preferable to that espoused by George Bush and the Republican Party would do well to hear Joe Lieberman outline the broad bi-partisan consensus which backs the current president's endeavors in Iraq in particular, and in the war on terror in general. More interestingly, however, such bi-partisan, "can't-we-all-just-get-along" rhetoric exposes how the Republican and Democratic Parties together alienate their respective fringes, both in the center and at the extremes: pleas for a "bi-partisan political truce" from the likes of Lieberman and/or McCain would be unnecessary were centrists not alienated by "politics as usual" in Washington; and the centrists, in turn, foreclose the demands of both the far left and the far right from the realm of practical political discourse. What is remarkable in this case, however, is the fact that the demands of the far left and far right to a great extent overlap. The left and right both want the US out of Iraq, but the mainstream in both parties want to send more troops.

When Lieberman states, "There is almost no one here at home calling for an American retreat or withdrawal," he clearly intends to marginalize any opposition to current US policy. And partisan conservative supporters of the president would have us believe that such opposition is confined to the "loony left," comprised of organizations like ANSWER and United for Peace and Justice. But there is certainly no lack of voices calling for the withdrawal of US forces from Iraq, on either the left or the right. Rightists who either never bought into the neoconservative master narrative that guided the nation into the war, or have since grown disillusioned of it, continue to come out against the indefinite continuation of the current occupation, and in favor of a speedy withdrawal of US forces from Iraq. Pat Buchanan and Daniel Pipes are two obvious examples.

But, where the demands of the far left and far right converge, their differences are put into perhaps greater relief. For instance, the anti-occupation left, in the words of Dennis Kucinich, want "the UN in and the US out," while the anti-ocupation right want "the US out and an Iraqi strongman in," as Pipes recently put it, which I noted here. But nonetheless, the possibility of bipartisanship at the extremes is real. How unlikely is it that, when the US gets out, the UN will go in only to legitimize the rule of an Iraqi strongman?

In any case, it's better that the Republicans and Democrats turn on one another rather than team up against the rest of us, folk for whom the suggestion that the Senate could be shut down is not a threat, but rather an opportunity for a welcome respite from the tyranny of Republican-Democratic legislators. Perhaps we should demand that the Congress be shut down, that the crooks, frauds, and careerists (did I miss anyone?) be relieved of their duties and sent packing, that the people of the United States be given a chance to flush the political toilet and elect a fresh slate of citizens to clean up the sewage that's been spilling over from the government for the last fifty years. Our banner? Sanitation workers for House and Senate!

Posted by charles sanson at May 3, 2004 9:42 PM