3 04 2016

American democracy has been functionally describable as “a two-party system” for most of our country’s history. There have been “third parties,” but they have rarely been successful at breaking into the mainstream. One exception is the Republican Party, which took advantage of the collapse of the former “second party,” the Whigs, to  become the other major party besides the Democrats, in the election of 1856, running bearded, long-haired John C. Fremont for President.


John C. Fremont, the first Republican Presidential candidate–a long-haired guy with a beard.

They didn’t win that election, but went on to win in 1860 with Abe Lincoln, and kept that string going for most of the next seventy-two years, until Roosevelt routed Hoover in 1932.

Meanwhile, other parties kept hoping to do what the Republicans had done. The Populists and Socialists never got much traction; the Progressive Party, championed by Theodore Roosevelt and later Robert LaFollette, came closest. The Progressives were actually a spinoff from the Republicans, and succeeded in diverting enough Republican votes to allow the election of Woodrow Wilson, who first kept us out of, and then got us into, World War I. Hey, it was a good excuse for arresting radicals and labor organizers. It’s kind of amusing, in light of the current political landscape, to think of the Republicans as the progressive part of our political spectrum, but that is how they started out–taking the radical position that slavery should be limited and, ultimately, eradicated. I am sure that, when they endorsed this idea in 1856, they had no idea how soon it would come to pass. That should serve as an inspiration to all of us. Thank you, Republicans!

So, what has being a two-party system meant for the form and direction of politics in this country? Read the rest of this entry »


7 05 2011

First, I am pleased to report to you that North America has elected its first Green Party candidate to national office.  Elizabeth May, head of the Green Party of Canada, won election to a parliamentary seat in British Columbia, in a watershed election that also saw the New Democratic Party of Canada supplant the Liberal Party as the country’s chief opposition party.  The NDP is nowhere near as radical as the Greens, but it’s overall good news nonetheless, like having the Feingold/Kucinich wing of the Democratic Party separate out and beat the Democratic Leadership Council corporate whores who threw Ralph Nader under the bus and have been running the Democratic Party–into the ground–since Jimmy Carter’s day.  It’s worth noting that the first time she ran for federal office, Ms. May received just 272 votes. Goes to show, you can get there from here.

The bad news in this election is that Stephen Harper’s Conservative Party, which considers global warming and attempts to curb it “a socialist plot” has gained a working majority of seats in the Canadian Parliament for the first time and will thus have a free hand to destroy the environment and social fabric of Canada for the next four years.  Good news is, it will give Ms. May–and the NDP–plenty of material for stirring speeches.  Good luck to our northern neighbors–looks like you may need it!

Also, Friday night I found myself once again joining a group of my fellow barbarians in a sumptuous Roman villa, far out in the country, this one not a hunting lodge but a repurposed McMansion, now the headquarters of a nascent community calling itself “The Temple of Wisdom, Truth and Fun.”    Unlike last month’s Beltane/full moon blowout, the occasion was not a wild celebration of the rites of Spring, but a somewhat solemn convocation to view Albert Bates‘ new presentation on the subject of “Coolenomics”–how to change our economy’s priorities so that cooling the planet down makes more sense to more people than our present course, which, if left unchecked, could turn Eaarth into an overheated, lifeless sister planet of Venus.  The presentation, based on Albert’s new book “The Biochar Solution,” is definitely in the same league as Al Gore’s “Inconvenient Truth.”

Albert will next be making his presentation in Mallorca, in the Mediterranean, reputedly to a group of financial heavy hitters–who, let’s face it, are the people who need to be convinced to do something, because they’re the ones with the ways and means.  I don’t have time to go more fully into Albert’s vision this month  but I will be reading the book and giving you a full report on it in the near future–hopefully next month.

music:  Julian Cope, “Western Front, 1992 CE”

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