Wednesday, August 7, 2013


Trey Smith

Memo to Republicans: you don’t have a monopoly on hating President Obama.

I dislike America’s two-party system for a lot of reasons. Mostly because the duopoly is undemocratic: no two political parties can represent the diversity of opinions held by a nation’s voters. We’d need dozens of parties to approximate adequate representative government. Another reason, one that deserves attention, is that it reduces political dialogue to binary imbecility.

Democrat or Republican. Liberal or conservative. If you’re not one, you must be the other. If you don’t vote, people — apparently rational, functional people who manage to drive their cars without ramming them into walls — tell you with a straight face that your non-vote is a de facto vote for the candidate you would have voted against (had you voted). Because you’re not allowed to hate both. Because, in under our idiotic one-or-the-other political system, even if you hate both parties, you’re supposed to hate one party more than the other.

Which is why, for the last four years, Obama-hating has belonged to the racist right.

In the real world, of course, lots of lefties can’t stand the president. In the mainstream corporate media narrative epitomized by MSNBC on the “left” and Fox News on the “right,” however, left=liberal=Democrat and right=conservative=Republican. They say it so often and we hear it so much that many of us think it’s true.

In the real world, away from the barking dogs of cable television news, lots of Americans would vote for a party other than the Ds or the Rs. A 2012 poll found that 46% of Americans would support a third party if it were viable.
~ from Lefties Against Obama: Think the President Is Socialist? We Wish! by Ted Rall ~
Even a casual reader of this blog knows that I am one of those lefties who loathes the Obama administration, so I'm not going to bark up that tree in this post (though I should mention that Rall provides a good laundry list of why -- use the link to read his handy list). My beef is with the 46% of Americans that Rall references above.

This is the great caveat we so often find when people are asked about supporting an alternative to the two-headed corporate party: viability. Most of this 46% are disinterested in doing ANY of the work to help a non-corporate political party BECOME viable. They just want it to fall into their laps and then, m-a-y-b-e, they will throw their support in that direction.

It is because so many Americans are unwilling to put in the necessary time and effort that viability currently is an impossibility. The only way a true grassroots party on the left is going to rise is through the commitment of tens of thousands of dedicated individuals. It would take a yeoman's effort with very little institutional backing and, in relative terms, very little money. It would mean going door-to-door for months on end, tabling at events and putting constant pressure on local and national media.

Therein lies the problem. By and large, when it comes to politics and civic involvement, Americans are a lazy lot. Sure, Americans come together during crises and emergencies, but that's because they tend to be short-lived. Ask them to commit to regular weekly involvement and most of them will look at you like your hair is on fire!

Think I'm being harsh? If so, I have an assignment for you. If you are involved in a group or organization -- if you aren't, then you are proving my point -- compare the number of members with the number of people who actually do almost all of the work. With most groups, the memberships rolls are littered with names, but the people who do the vast majority of the work can be counted on one or two hands! The rest of the folks might attend a meeting here or there, contribute small amounts of money or, the largest group, simply are paper members -- they put their names on the dotted line, but never lift a finger to further any of the organization's objectives.

When I was one of the state leaders of Oregon's Green Party, we had over 10,000 registered members and less than 1% were ever involved in our numerous activities or political campaigns in ANY meaningful way. Each county party survived because of a mere handful of dedicated activists (me being one) who shouldered 80, 90 or 100% of the work...80, 90 to 100% of the time!

It was very disillusioning to hear people say, "If you get something set up, I'll be there" and not realize the tremendous amount of time and effort it took to set things up! Even worse, when the few of us managed to set things up with no help, three-fourths of the people who swore they would be there...didn't even bother to show up. When I would run into them later, the common refrain was "Sorry, I was busy. Besides, I'm sure others made up for my absence."

This is WHY I say that viability is a current impossibility [for the left] in today's America. Too many people want others to do all the heavy lifting.

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