Friday, February 3, 2017

The Neo-Manichaean Tendency in American Politics

"Help Us Stand Up to Donald Trump" -- Self-serving and self-congratulatory advertisement for Slate Plus.

The American two-party system seems to be a an unnecessarily rigid fact of life in part because both parties enforce orthodoxy on their members. Let's see now: Do the terms RINO or Blue Dog Democrat mean anything to you?  For the record, these are Republicans and Democrats that were disinclined to adopt the parties' platforms in their entirety.

Unfortunately, both political parties are inclined in this direction. And yet, paradoxically, both parties managed to nominate political candidates in which large numbers of potential voters were turned off.  Where went the idea that political parties should be big tents that let people in because of similar, but not necessarily congruent, interests?

That seems to be the current function of third parties nowadays: as miscellaneous bins for the diasaffected of both parties. They can serve as a source of new ideas without the hidebound orthodoxy that the two usual parties seem to be mired in. Imagine this: someone actually ran for President and called himself a Democratic Socialist! Yes! This candidate actually used the S-word! And he got a lot of support, probably because a lot of people saw the two major parties as having interests other than theirs'.

This is nothing other than a type of Manichaean outlook: remember that old religion that posited a continual conflict between good and evil primeval forces? Well, both parties seem to try the notion that they're the good guys while the others are the forces of darkness. And they try to convince others that they are by wearing white hats. Or tinfoil ones. 

And offer to slay demons. Especially demons of their own contrivance!

The various newspapers and other media feed this disposition. And the new President likes to blithely draw lines in the sand.

Since when did compromise become a dirty word? It's now tantamount to blasphemy. Will some of us wind up wearing scarlet B's? As they say on the West Bank (Marrero, Algiers, Westwego, and Gretna), "It's a bitch!"*

*I'm referring to the West Bank of the New Orleans area, where monsters and politicians dwell.


John Hill said...

Ahhh...New Orleans politics!

I would love to see a moderate 3rd party emerge.
Mike has experience in local government.
Bilbo has worked in the pentagon.
Angel would be a far better choice as Sec. of Education than our current choice.
And I'm sure that we could find many more competent people from our collective readers.

I will gladly ride the country on my motorcycle and lend support for each of their campaigns!

Mike said...

We actually need a better voting system. A system of elimination where you could vote for your favorite candidate of any party and then the top two would be in a final. Of course it would be only a matter of time before someone figured out how to beat this system too.

Cloudia said...


allenwoodhaven said...

Agreed. And nicely said too.

Gorilla Bananas said...

Mike is the right about the voting system. Zealous minorities are calling the tune and giving the moderate majority unpalatable choices. Have just two candidates for each primary, vetted by the party leadership.

Duckbutt said...

That same tendency makes any attempt at compromise as being wishy-washy.