Wednesday, August 22, 2012

The 2-Party System Thanks You For Playing Their Rigged Game Under Their Rigged Rules

The 2-Party System Thanks You For Playing Their Game Under Their Rules.

How The Democratic And Republican Parties Conspire To Keep Each Other In Power... 
And What We Can Do About It.

By Frankly Speaking

(10/09/2016: Updated From The 2012 Election Cycle.... The more things change, the worse they get.)

I read comments like this all the time: "I don’t like Hillary (or Trump) and I really like Jill Stein or Gary Johnson and I would vote for them except….”

And then the other shoe drops and one of the following excuses pops up:.. He doesn’t have a chance:.. I’d be throwing my vote away:.. If I don’t vote for Hillary or Trump then it’s just a vote for the other candidate who is so bad and who would ruin the country:.. This is the most important election of my lifetime and the result could decide the course of this country for a generation:.. This election will decide the makeup of the Supreme Court for decades... And on and on and on….

So they either stay at home on election day or hold their breath and vote for the candidate whom they believe will do the least harm.

For a century or more these two Cartels, sorry... these two Parties, have colluded with each other and have struck a Faustian deal with corporate and monied interests that ensures that they will share power for decades to come. Despite their differences and mutual animosity, they have become used to  conducting business with each other and are comfortable with the false paradigm of  "Left vs Right" that they have established. They would rather deal with the "Devil they know” than someone they don't know with fresh ideas. They are terrified that The People will realize that there are other ways to address the issues and that there are other people who can get the job done as well as, or better than, they have. They understand that as long as they are seen as the only serious players in town they will each have their opportunities to exercise power and run the nation. So they fix the game in such a way as to ensure that it is virtually impossible for an alternative people based Grass Roots campaign to mount a serious challenge to the status quo.

There are at least six ways that they collude with each other in order to maintain power and keep alternative candidates from making a difference:

1) They spend a lot of time, energy and money to convince voters that they are the only 2 viable options and that the choice is between their definition of “Liberal” and “Conservative” philosophies:

This is a false choice. It’s not just Liberal vs. Conservative or Left vs. Right. It’s simply not that simple. Even within those paradigms there are innumerable different ideas on how to attack and solve each issue. Most people I know have developed a philosophy that is more sophisticated and complex, some subtle shade of grey. For instance the statement I hear often is “I’m a social liberal and an economic conservative” or vice versa. The Democratic and Republican Parties do not have a monopoly on viable Liberal or Conservative ideas or solutions but they work very hard to convince you that they do. They want you to think that they are the only game in town and that their recycled ideas and rhetoric are somehow bold and courageous and constitute a “new approach“.

2) They demonize each other and attach Earth-shattering importance to every election:

It goes something like this. "We know our guy (A) isn't perfect, but look how scary the other guy (B) is. If you vote for anyone but A, you're actually voting for B, and he will ruin the country."

Every election in my lifetime has been framed by at least one of the two parties as the "most important election of this generation" (until the next one comes around) and as either: a) a "turning point" that will determine the future of the country and bring positive change and return our nation to it's former glory... or b) as "staying the course/passing the torch” and  keeping this country great.

Then when someone actually has the nerve to exercise their constitutional right to stage an alternative campaign for president and ends up getting any significant support (i.e. Ralph Nader 2000), they blame that candidate and their supporters for handing the election to the opposition. It’s been 16 years and people, Democrats and Republicans alike, still bring up Nader as a reason not to vote for anyone but the candidates approved by the establishment. The fact is that I have a Constitutional Duty to vote my conscience and if a candidate can't convince me to vote for them based on their positions on the issues, that's THEIR fault, not mine.

The parties even conspire with each other, through their surrogates and the media, to go so far as to tell the public that if they’re not going to vote for A or B, they might just as well stay at home on election day because their vote will be meaningless. How’s that for Democracy? Isn’t that just a not-so-subtle form of voter suppression? When the public is bombarded with the message that unless a candidate is running on a major party ticket they can't win, is it any wonder that 90 million eligible voters are fed up and won’t even bother to vote in 2016?

3) They set impossibly high standards on a State to State basis and make it incredibly expensive for an Independent, 3rd party or Grass Roots National Campaign to get on ballots:

The Democratic and Republican presidential candidates are practically guaranteed spots on the ballots in every state. On the other hand alternative candidates  have to spend huge amounts of time, money and effort just to get on the ballots and they are unable to get their message out to the public until very late in the game.

Each state has it’s own qualification standards. There are literally 50 sets of rules, deadlines and criteria  that alternative candidates have to meet to qualify in all 50 states. A campaign has to navigate a virtual labyrinth involving paying fees, and collecting enough valid signatures under the right circumstances in the right areas in the right time frame just to get their name on the ballot. Each state’s qualifying process was formed by legislatures run by Democrats and Republicans and is designed  to discourage outside and independent participation in our democratic process.

Even if alternative candidates qualify to be included on a state's ballot, the major parties will still try to exclude them. One example is Pennsylvania where, in 2012, Democratic and Republican presidential candidates only had to gather 2,000 signatures while alternative candidates needed 20,000. Gary Johnson's campaign reached that threshold and the Pennsylvania Republican Party subsequently announced that they would sue to keep him off the ballot. They also challenged the Constitution Party's 2012 candidate, Virgil Goode and kept him off the ballot, not because of voter signature validity but because of money. His campaign submitted 35,0000 signatures. The Constitution Party withdrew his name because Pennsylvania's election laws, written by Democrats and Republicans, required them to cover the legal costs if they lost the challenge, a sum which could have exceeded $100,000, and they simply don't have that kind of money.

This system serves to distract and delay independent and 3rd party campaigns. The Democratic and Republican candidates are able to actively promote themselves and their policies for months, sometimes years, to the public. Meanwhile the convoluted qualification process has alternative candidates jumping through dozens of different hoops just to get their name on the ballot. If they do succeed in getting on the ballot, they are lucky if they have more than a few months to introduce their candidate and ideas to the public.

This is also designed to restrict and delay their ability to do any serious fund raising. Potential donors are reluctant to donate money to a campaign that they can’t even be sure will be on all the ballots. This is one reason we have a system of private campaign funding and why the Democrats and Republicans oppose any meaningful campaign finance reform and measures that would limit or eliminate those funds. They are afraid of a system of publicly funded campaigns because the current system favors the powers that be and reform would serve to even the playing field and give others a fighting chance.

All this serves to give established candidates a huge, and unfair, head start and advantage in the election.

4) They marginalize Alternative Candidates and exclude them from the conversation:

Democrats and Republicans are loathe to allow an outsider to challenge them in a public forum and force them to talk about real issues.

The standard for being included in the presidential debates is set so high that only one alternative candidate, Ross Perot in 1992, has been allowed to participate. However… surprise-surprise… he wasn’t really an outsider (and certainly not a grass roots candidate), but  a billionaire who largely funded his own campaign.

Jill Stein and Gary Johnson are the alternative candidates with best chance to be included in the debates. But don't hold your breath. Last time I checked they were polling somewhere around 5%-8% nationally. Except for Perot, the Billionaire who used his own fortune to propel himself into the national spotlight, that’s higher than any alternative candidate in recent memory. According to the rules of participation for the Presidential Debates, in order to qualify to participate in the debates, a candidate has to receive at least 15% support in 3 consecutive national polls, and these polls either omit 3rd party candidates from the choices or word the questions in such a way as to discourage someone picking an alternative candidate. Even if Stein or Johnson achieve those numbers they may not be allowed to participate. Who writes those rules and makes the final decisions? The Commission On Presidential Debates, a non-profit controlled by, you guessed it, the Democratic and Republican parties, and they will bend over backwards to prevent anyone else from gaining any legitimacy by sharing such a public stage with their guys.

Imagine if Johnson and/or Stein were included in the debates. The moderator would be obliged to ask questions about the issues that they are running on. The Clinton and Trump campaigns would not be able to control the conversation and the candidates would not be able to just stick to their talking points. They would be in the uncomfortable position of actually defending and explaining their positions and policies instead of just attacking each other. They would have to seriously answer questions they do not want to address: questions about Climate Change, the War On Drugs, the bloated Military, the Perpetual Wars, the obscene role of money in our politics, the inflated influence of the banks and corporations in our Government etc. They would risk upsetting their corporate benefactors on Wall Street, the Military Industrial Complex, Big Pharma etc.

5) Corporate control of MSM and the campaign finance system.

     a) The parties are funded by secret, virtually unlimited corporate and 1% money.

We all know about the 2010 Citizens United case and how that decision opened the floodgates and injected hundreds of millions of dollars of "dark" money into the campaigns. This causes candidates to become beholden to wealthy corporations and individuals and essentially shuts out the vast majority of The People from having any influence on candidates and policies. It also discourages t ordinary citizens from running. And if they want to mount a serious challenge they have to beg for money from these elitist entities who are not going to finance a candidate who has policies that they oppose. That's the definition of oligarchy: A small group of people and corporations having control of a country, organization or institution. 

     b) These same corporations control the Media:

The mainstream media in this country is 90% owned by 6 huge corporations and those companies have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo and promoting the two-party system. I challenge anyone to cite a major MSM reporter that has independent ideas and is willing to confront or contradict the corporate/party line, the policy spinners or the candidates.

Think about the mainstream media and their reporters for a minute. Almost all of them are considered either “liberal“ or “conservative“. But think a little harder. Are they really what they claim to be, or are they just essentially water carriers for one of the two major parties? How often do you hear a conservative “journalist” contradicting the Republican Party line, or a liberal “journalist” contradicting the Democratic Party line? It happens very rarely. Why is this? Is it because, by some weird statistical anomaly, all these reporters agree almost 100% with these parties? Or is it because unless they play ball, they risk losing their jobs and will not be granted access, fed stories or given exclusives, which they then faithfully regurgitate and present as facts without serious challenge, investigation or question. The media is also pressured to refuse significant coverage and access to alternative candidates, except to portray them as curiosities or eccentric people pursuing a hopeless cause and tilting at windmills.

The internet is now a place where people can get unfiltered information. I believe it has the potential to be a great equalizer and tool for true Democracy. But guess what? The Democrats and Republicans are working together and are desperately trying to figure out how to reign it in and control it through bills such as SOPA and CISPA. Who says bi-partisanship is dead? Well, when something threatens their stranglehold on power in this country, bi-partisanship is alive and well and as strong as ever.

6) If all else fails... they cheat.

Corruption, fraud, collusion and voter suppression was rampant in the 2016 Democratic primaries. When Bernie Sanders ran this year he was, by far, the more popular candidate. He went against conventional wisdom and ran raising money solely from individual donors. The Democratic Party did not allow independents to vote in many primaries, purged the voter rolls of progressive voters, threw out Sanders votes and generally rigged the election in favor of Hillary Clinton. Election Justice USA conducted a study that detailed hard evidence of election fraud and targeted voter suppression throughout the course of the 2016 Democratic presidential primaries,concluded that without voter fraud, Sanders would have won in a landslide.
This is just business as usual for these corrupt political cartels.

"Meet The New Boss, Same As The Old Boss.”

The Democratic and Republican parties are heavily invested in maintaining their power and the status quo. They are very satisfied with a system that does not hold them accountable for their destructive policies, a system that always seems to favor the rich and powerful at the expense of the poor, the working and middle classes, the young, minorities, the weak and the disenfranchised. They are too indebted to corporate and monied interests to offer any real changes that would really rock the boat, even up the playing field and tip the balance of power to The People, which is where it really belongs.They know that as long as they take care of their benefactors, they will have cushy high paying jobs waiting for them when they retire or are voted out of office. They literally have no incentive to make any significant meaningful political changes. In fact they are jeopardizing their family's financial future if they do try to reform the system.

The new candidates that the Democrats and Republicans roll out every election year are not the intellectual next generation with fresh and innovative or courageous ideas that they always portray themselves to be. They are just different faces repackaging the same old tired, failed policies that are designed to maintain their grip on power and cater to the rich, the powerful and corporate interests at the expense of The People.

Voters react to this 2-Party "game" in various ways. Many are obviously partisan and are happy to vote for whomever their party offers up. Others just play the game. If they're lucky they like one of the candidates or else they cast their vote for the 2-Party candidate that is less repugnant to them. Millions of others have been disenfranchised and are so disgusted that they have refused to play the game and no longer participate in the electoral process. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party consider both these reaction to be checks in the win column. Their philosophy is either play the game by their rules and vote for them or sit on the sidelines. Others, like myself, have made the decision to vote for alternative candidates whenever we can.

If Not Here, Where? If Not Now, When? If Not You Or Me, Whom?

There is some good news. People are leaving the Democratic and Republican parties in droves. This is a healthy sign that more people are getting fed up with business as usual and the divisiveness that both parties promote and profit from. It also means that people are more likely to take a closer look at alternative candidates and vote for them.

It takes time to change a paradigm, especially one that is as corrupt and entrenched as this one is, one that has such powerful interests behind it. I know that the system will not change this year but  this is the perfect time to start the ball rolling. Grass Roots movements have a tendency, over time, to grow and gain momentum. As people see more and more of their family, neighbors and friends taking action and voting their conscience maybe they will begin to realize that it is not futile to use your vote to help affect real change.

If we are serious about ending the seemingly inexorable march towards corporate and theological control of our nation then we have to act as a United People. It has to start somewhere and at some time. I believe that now is the time to begin the process of real change and to take actions that will eventually place the power back with The People, where it belongs. The only way to do that under the current rigged system is for The People to say "enough is enough" and vote in overwhelming numbers for alternative candidates in defiance of the Democratic and Republican parties and their benefactors.

Until The People show the Democratic and Republican parties that they will be held accountable for their policies and will not be allowed to continue to maintain their monopoly on power in our government, they have no incentive to make significant meaningful changes.

You Do Have A Choice.

I'd rather vote for something and not get it than vote for something I don't want and get it." - Eugene Debs.

Contrary to what Democrats and Republicans will say to you, ad nauseum, you actually do have a choice this year. There are two 3rd Party Presidential Candidates that will appear on most states’ ballots. One  Progressive ( Jill Stein -Green Party) and one Libertarian (Gary Johnson - Libertarian). There are also hundreds of alternative candidates around the country running for Congress, the Senate and state and local offices.

I'm voting for Jill Stein for President. Where I live, the only alternative candidates for local offices are Libertarians so I will cast write in votes and vote on local issues. Our local ballot also includes an up or down vote on sitting judges. I always vote to fire every single one of them. My take is that two years is already too much time for any human to have that kind of absolute power over people's lives.

The good news is that you don’t have to vote out of fear. You can vote from a position of strength and  courage. If you are disgusted and sick of business as usual in our government and you are tired of the stranglehold that these two antiquated and power-hungry parties and their corporate overlords have on our country, join me in voting for an alternative presidential candidate and vote for other alternative candidates on your ballot when that choice is available to you.

I would argue that it is your Constitutional, Moral and Democratic Duty to cast your vote for a candidate you agree with rather than sitting on the sidelines or voting against someone you fear. Remember, “Choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.” And to quote Eugene Debs,

It’s time to begin the process of rewriting the rules and balancing the scales to reflect the Will Of The People.

Do the right thing. Do the Patriotic thing, Don’t give in to fear. Don’t be bullied or intimidated at the ballot box. Vote for the candidate that you think has the best ideas and will do the best job of guiding your country for the next 4 years.