Thursday, October 8, 2009

Infiltrating the Duopoly: Why It's Not Compromise

Over the past several days I've taken on the exercise of examining our two-party system of electing our representatives. I first responded to a discussion point at the Humble Libertarian with a brief thought on challenging the two party system, after which I was rebutted by Damon Eris at the blog, Poli-Tea who warned that we not get fooled again. From there, I've gone on to begin something of a debate with Damon. I began the other day by analyzing the option of libertarians infiltrating the Republican Party as a method for more quickly affecting a corrective change to our political system.

When men and women with sound, attractive political philosophies begin coming to the forefront, and infiltrating the major parties, once again giving people something to vote for, rather than against, we will find the parties moving again more toward respectability. Pragmatism for infiltration seems paramount for moving the country forward in a realistic manner. While fragmentation appears attractive, infiltration practiced by men and women of principle will get the job done much more quickly.
In his follow up, Damon responded that if you compromise from the outset, you'll be compromised in the end.

The aim and goal of third party and independent activism is not fragmentation as such, but more effective representation. Arguably, the
two-party system is structurally incapable of representing the diversity of interests to be found among the people of the United States. If "fragmentation" is what results from the smashing of the two-party state, then everyone should have a sledge hammer.
On the way to arriving at his summation, Damon examines my arguments that we are seeing somewhat successful campaigns from the likes of Peter Schiff and Rand Paul, who are opting to run very libertarian-minded campaigns by going for their respective Republican nominations. His argument against them running for Republican nominations is where he arrives at his idea that the two-party system is structurally incapable of representing the diversity of our interests.

Finally, the infiltration strategy usually entails running an insurgent primary campaign, likely against the candidate favored by the party establishment, who will seek to marginalize such upstarts in any way possible.


Though he's working "within the system," his effort is still marginalized as if it were a third party or independent campaign. Further, Rand Paul has demonstrated that he is capable of raising tons of money independently of the Republican Party fundraising apparatus. What were the advantages of working within the GOP again?


In his argument in favor of infiltration, Paul at OE remarks that: "The majority view of third parties in general remains that they are full of cranks who bring nothing of substance to the table." The same could be said of the majority view regarding the Democratic and Republican Parties, and that would be a particularly nice way of putting it.

Damon argues that, in this case, these libertarian candidates running as Republicans are marginalized by the likes of the RNC as the cranks they would be marginalized as anyway. The article he cites regarding Rand Paul's campaign goes on at length about how Rand Paul needs to better "get with the program" if he wants to be accepted by the GOP. He argues that he is therefore being marginalized even in competing for the position he seeks, that this does no good since while he may win the position, he will not really be accepted by the party. He also argues in going against my position that the likes of Paul and Schiff find their funding outside of any party affiliation anyway, so that my point about more readily accessible assets in joining ranks with the GOP is moot.

First, pertaining to access to financial assets, let us remember that the examples of Peter Schiff and Rand Paul are outside of the ordinary. Peter Schiff has become a star of the economy on television and Youtube. Rand Paul is Ron Paul's son, and therefore has instant notoriety. Not to say that he is not his own man, but needless to say, there are thousands of doctors or lawyers (ugh) or businessmen, I'm sure, with political aspirations, who have not had the inside track to political notoriety that he has had. These are the candidates, without an inside track, that would find better access to financial resources by infiltrating an existing major party.

Moving on to the argument surrounding potential, let's call it crank-ism, I believe Damon has essentially argued the point to a standstill. His argument in this aspect is resource-based, resources being people. He argues that in order to strengthen a third party, all available resources should be thrown into that third party's efforts. He argues that since these people are going to be marginalized as cranks anyway, they may as well be marginalized as cranks while moving a third party forward, by allocating all resources to the third party. The obvious question to follow with, then, is if they are cranks in both cases, and their objective is to best represent their constituents, why not chase the opportunity that allows them to achieve some progress once elected?

Now, given Damon's previous arugments, he will respond with something like "they will just become subjects to the parties' pay masters at some point anyway; big labor on the left, or big military business on the right." He will relegate their campaigns to being mere rhetoric to mask their subjectivity to said pay masters, as he has regarding even the likes of such movement figureheads as Reagan, Goldwater and McGovern.

I don't think this argument holds water. I think people of principle will act on their principles no matter their party. Similarly, men and women lacking in character to such an extent that they would abandon their principles and fall into corporatist corruption would do so no matter their party. While more parties would theoretically make it harder for corporations to influence politicians via influence over parties themselves, the politicians are ultimately responsible for their own actions. Sell outs are going to sell out no matter what. Likewise, men and women of principle will hold fast to their principles no matter what. I don't envision someone like Peter Schiff, if he's elected, becoming subject to anyone, for example. While he is already famous the world 'round with regular people, we should remember that nobody in Washington cares. His access to the Republican machine would immediately give him easier access to committee functions in the Senate than he would have from a third party standpoint, where he would no doubt be ostracized. He would then be able to work and act on his principles, without compromise.

Now, my initial theory was that it would be possible to infiltrate both parties, while creating a third that would ultimately become a fallback for a fragmentation of a major party. I am working on elaborating this argument, and should have a follow up in a few days. Until then, feel free to comment. And check out Poli-Tea. Damon has some fantastic thoughts. And the debate is back in his court.

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