Re-envisioning the Two Party System
Published in BlackCommentator, November 19, 2022
The prediction of a mid-term red wave has petered out. In survival mode, most working-class voters don’t remember one election to the next unless it’s really memorable. Like the election of the first Black president. Some of us do have a memory of the Republican wave of 2010 that left the Dems stunned. That was the middle of the President Barack Obama’s first term when the Republicans snatched up 63 seats in the House, making it the largest political shift since the 1948 elections. On top of the House sweep, the GOP flipped control of some twenty-state legislatures, creating trifectas and super-majorities in key battleground states. The country has never quite recovered from that and soon after came the infamous presidency of donald trump.
The ritual of counting seats to see which of the two wings of the same capitalist bird will be in control is getting old. Historically, the sitting president’s party is almost always hammered in the midterms. Even with President Biden’s low approval numbers, the Dems are still crawling through a few finish lines. As I write, the Dems barely held onto the Senate, and the GOP will probably have the House. A divided house spells another unproductive legislative session.
The nail-bitin’ national elections are mirrored on the state levels. In the battleground state of Wisconsin, Mandela Barnes lost by a half percentage point to incumbent Senator Ron Johnson. Barnes is a Black Democrat and is currently Wisconsin’s Lt. Governor. Because the state doesn’t require a runoff in elections with such razor-thin margins, Johnson and his backward, conservative platform won a third term.
And what happened in Georgia? Can someone explain why there will be a runoff between incumbent Raphael Warnock and fake-badge-waving sheriff, Herschel Walker? This is not even about race; it’s about who’s moving a forward-thinking agenda. Hopefully, the Georgia Democratic electorate will be so pissed off that Governor Brian Kemp retained his seat that they’ll pour all of their energy into a Warnock victory on December 6.
I don’t have space to talk about how the Dems messed up in one of the bluest states in the country – New York.
For the more involved political observers, there’s looking at which states have a trifecta, a trifecta plus or a triplex. It sounds like betting on the horse races, but the betting seems to be against the people and about concentrating power in the hands of a few.
Take Pennsylvania, another battleground state. It is a Democratic triplex because the party controls the state officers of governor, secretary of state and the attorney general. It is not a trifecta; that’s when one party controls the governorship, and the majorities in the House and Senate. Republicans control both chambers of the state legislature. This scenario could neutralize the veto power of a Democratic governor.
If this sounds like some kind of game, that’s the point. This cyclical partisan charade doesn’t allow the country to move decisively in a forward motion through the ideological fanaticism rooted in white supremacy and patriarchy.
We have not seen bold, strategic campaigns carried out by the Democratic Party in battleground states or anywhere else for that matter. The work is to educate voters and engage them in the importance of the political moment. The goal is to rally them around a People’s Agenda, not just around personalities. Simultaneously, the Dems have to fight hard to keep voting convenient and accessible. It doesn’t make sense if the work has been done to have an educated voter if they can’t get to the polls to cast their vote.
Elections are not just about winning battleground states; this country is a battleground. It is about whether we are truly fighting for a democracy that lifts up the most disenfranchised and exploited in this country. It is about making sure the nation’s budget reflects the human needs of people, not which party is in power.
It seems like the Republicans have a winning strategy and a winning narrative for rallying its base. Elections are a manifestation of who has effectively organized their constituents. As politically outrageous as they are, the MAGA Republicans are winning the hearts and minds of their folks while the rest of the country is shaking in its boots at the thought of trump presidential run in 2024.
This brings us to the role of the social movements in the electoral arena. I think we have done a respectable job of managing an inside-outside strategy. Further, I believe it’s been the social movements that have played a major role in galvanizing voters even if it was around a particular issue, like voting rights or reproductive rights.
If those of us who believe in true democracy are weary of this cat-and-mouse game, tired of being boxed upside the head by the two parties, let’s have a serious discussion about a third party. The U.S. is the only so-called developed country with just two political parties. The United Kingdom and Germany each have six political parties. Japan has seven, Greece has eleven and Denmark has thirteen political parties, respectively. Surely, progressives in this country can work on building at least one party that represents an alternative to the Dems and the GOP. A party that incorporates not just the hopes and aspirations of the majority but also is about building working class power on the legislative level.
Insanity is repeatedly doing the same thing and expecting different results. As we slide towards totalitarianism, we’ll learn that depending on the two-party system is political suicide