Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Flaw in the System

Since the public at large regards both parties with intense cynicism—"They're all crooks!"—it’s always possible for a genuinely radical party to prevail in a two-party system where the winner of a given presidential election is likely to be determined by factors like short-term economic trends, irrelevant sex scandals, or the personal charisma of candidates. Most people simply don't think an election makes that much difference. Besides, there is the widespread and not unreasonable belief that the alternation of parties is necessary to put a leash on corruption even if that means occasionally voting for the more dubious side.

If the crazy right can maintain control of the Republican Party long enough, they'll eventually take over the presidency as they have already taken over the Party itself, the House, and the Supreme Court. Unfortunately, once a piece of political turf is conquered, the Conservative version of the Brezhnev doctrine takes effect and extreme gerrymandering, Jim Crow laws, and reactionary court decisions make it much harder to move politics back towards the center. So far, at least, opposing forces haven’t demonstrated the degree of political ruthlessness needed to combat this ratchet and pawl strategy. Of course, the nuts may not prevail. External events may change the nature of the game or the financial interests that traditionally control the Republican Party may be able to curb their dogs. It’s also true, as everybody points out, that time is not on the side of a movement whose base is old white men. So long as the right maintains a viable mass of supporters, however, the possibility remains that our political system will give an opening to something really malevolent. The mischief already afoot in Michigan, Pennsylvania, and North Carolina shows what harm can be done from a single capricious election.     

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