More than two

We have more than two parties. Let’s start talking about our options.

With politics on my mind, it occurred to me that we use the term two-party system loosely in this country, and it bothers me.

We have two parties that switch roles over time, and have no real institutional continuity. They make hard issues easy for people without a lot of time to hand over power to less than 500 people that officially run the US. It isn’t great, and I wouldn’t even say it is good. It is what has led me to become uninvolved in most politics.

I am registered with the Green Party, because on paper I agree with most of their stated goals. I don’t actually know any one in the Green Party, though, so they could be a bunch of wonks. I’ve never been to one of their websites and thought they were doing webcraft correctly, so there is that.

The important part of me is that so-called “independent” or “third-party” groups get to participate in governing. Neither the Tea Party nor the Occupy movement were able to penetrate this system, so I think it is mostly hopeless. Perhaps Pope Benedict will inspire the parties to start employing system 2 thinking and evict themselves from power.

The importance of being a public idiot

Pundits are calling for the Republican party to reinvent itself to be more friendly for the new majority. Their advice: stop talking.

Trigger warning: References to Republican candidates commenting on women’s bodies and sexual violence.

This is by no means a charge of the narrative going on, but in my neck of the punditry, a common thing that Republican apologists are talking about is how the party represents its ideals.

The gist of the argument is that the Republican party lives in a bubble, and those running for office speak to their base, which alienates others, and that cost them a bunch of elections. This applies to the presidential election, but in particularly to those Senate races that had Republicans that made remarks that were ignorant and offensive to women and violent crimes against them. The so-called “rapey remarks”.

Analysts and other people who get paid to talk about this stuff present the idea that the party needs to be more flexible and open to the shifting demographics of the country. Sure, whatever. Regimes don’t willingly resign, human nature and all that. The thing that bugs me is the band-aid they apply to way the party speaks. Those men shouldn’t have said those things, because that is how they think, and act, and will make policy, but it shouldn’t be the criteria by which people vote for them or join the party.

Of course it is absurd. They are part of a conservative movement, the subculture of ruling over others, and as such they defer to the idea that they change superficially to get more members.

Instead, we should encourage them to present their ideas in the open, all the time. That is the best model of transparency we have, because it is the only one. Let people speak their mind. Let’s stop role-playing, or hacking at poll data. Let’s just put power-hungry people on tv and ask them about the things that matter, produce report cards based on their answers, and then follow-up with them once in office. Then we will be able to use pattern recognition to find who the idiots are, and who is pretending to be religious to win votes in a country with a frightening number of adults that believe in angels.

It is important to have the idiots called out in public.

The revolution, and the broadcast thereof

Historical context is something missing from our political narratives, which is almost a defining feature.

After finding a interesting quote from Rudolf Rocker, someone pointed me to the Wikipedia article of Bill Haywood.

Reading about the struggles of laborers are the beginning of the 20th century really made me want to read more about the movements that sprang up in the US around them, and part of that means socialism. I don’t have a problem with that, but as I was thinking about it, I realized that so much of our modern day discussion is is war with words. “Socialism” is politically either a bad word or a rallying cry. Unions, capital, labor, all polarizing terms.

One things that occurs to me is that in the American dialog often excludes historical context. I wish I could comment on other countries, but honestly I don’t pay that much attention to the arguments put forth, just the end results.

In this country, time and time again, we have to start from scratch and justify arguments from the ground up. That isn’t a bad idea, and I wish more laws, and hence conversations around them, had sunset clauses so we could reassess them as we go. The difficulty comes in the culture we create in the meantime, and the narrative that is created around important aspects of our governance.

When the FBI’s top lawyer is quoted as saying, “And the problem with that is that a search warrant requires probable cause to be shown and many of these techniques are things that you use in order to establish probable cause. If you require probable cause for every technique, then you are making it very very hard for law enforcement.”, it sounds like the modern day equivalent of Sherman Bell‘s, “Habeas corpus be damned, we’ll give ’em post mortems.” Well, it does if you understand the context.

The situation in this country seems overwhelming. But I am an optimist, if for no other reason that it really irritates me to leave a problem unsolved. That is why I will start reading more about the history that brought us to this point, as well as voting with my conscience, which is mostly aligned with the Green Party. When something interest me, I focus on it (have you noticed all the gaming posts lately?), and that may mean I spend a lot of time speaking about socialism and labor movements. I am not going to let the toxicity of the current political taxonomy deter me from exploring those ideas. Unless, you know, they use violence, in which case I will just run an underground network of encrypted message systems to explore those ideas. But the idea is that we don’t regress to that, rather, we always strive to become more free.