The Two-Party System, Part III
Lause, Mark A.http://www.solidarity-us.org/site/node/4373
Date Written: 2015-03-01
Publisher: Against the Current
Year Published: 2015
Resource Type: Article
Cx Number: CX20919
This perceived marriage of "progressive" change and the Democratic Party grew from conditions that prevailed from the 1930s through the 1960s. The next half century sustained this faith less through positive policies than by comforting images. Integral to this has been the rise of a warfare state with its own logic. The implications of both have made a two-party political order unchanged by the end of either World War II or the Cold War.
According to the American Presidency Project, the two major parties spent a total of less than $13 million to elect a president in 1956. In the next campaign, Kennedy's victory over Nixon demonstrated the decisive nature of television, and politics became more and more about buying media time. Twenty years later, when Reagan entered the White House after a long apprenticeship as a minor Hollywood star-turned-corporate spokesman, the two parties spent $58.8 million.
However dramatic this increase of financing in presidential elections, the flow of money has poured into every other level of electoral politics, including for relatively minor offices. Elections within specific districts turned increasingly on outside funding. By the 1980s, state and local campaigns often cost more than national presidential elections of a few decades before.
Alongside many of the regulations and regimentations installed during these years, came the "progressive" insistence upon an exclusive strategy of voting Democratic. Public relations aside, for decades, the Democratic Party has hardly attempted to address the poverty, racism, or sexism experienced by the majority of its voters. Nor has it even secured the simple right to unionize for American workers, or decent standards of longterm environmental health.
In contrast, it has fully participated in the construction of the warfare state, the anti-republican and undemocratic national surveillance and security monster, and the undisguised commercialization of electoral politics. The "progressive" punditry has responded with an increasingly dogmatic insistence that any politics other than promoting electoral success for the Democrats -- including mass, independent demonstrations -- gives aid and comfort to the reactionaries and must be crushed or derailed.