When Senator Bernie Sanders said America needs a "political revolution", it wasn't dishonest political hyperbole or a slick campaign slogan; it was a genuine call to arms to a real threat that's challenging our democracy.
The presidential public funding program was established in 1976 as a response to the Watergate scandal. It has seen few changes during the 30 years it has been used. And as historic levels of money pour into campaign coffers — and outside groups gain increased freedom to spend unlimited amounts of cash on advertisements of their own — more and more presidential candidates are choosing to fund their campaigns with private contributions. This choice allows them to avoid being bound by spending limits.
During the 2008 presidential election, Democrat Barack Obama became the first major party candidate reject public financing for the general election. Eight years earlier, Republican George W. Bush became the first major party candidate to opt out of the public financing system during the primaries. In 2004, Bush again rejected public money during the primaries, as did Democratic candidates Howard Dean and John Kerry. And in 2008, Democrat Hillary Clinton and Republicans John McCain and Mitt Romney have opted out of the system as well.
Since what in essence has been the end of publicly financed elections and the recent Supreme Court rulings on campaign finance (in conjunction to States' voter suppression laws), America has become a corrupted political duopoly — a watered-down version of "democracy" that has been dominated by political insiders who have refused to allow "political insurgents" to succeed in elections — and denying The People their right to vote for the type of government that they would prefer (and the corporate media is complicit).
The electoral college has become corrupt, and is out-dated, and should be abolished. We no longer depend on people on horseback to travel hundreds of miles to cast votes on our behalf. Today we have delegates and super-delegates within the establishment two-party machine who vote, not with the popular vote, but who vote in their own best interests — towing the party line and looking for tit-for-tat political favors from leaders within their relevant parties — such as recently, when "progressives" like Ohio's Senator Sherrod Brown and NYC's Mayor Bill de Blasio have endorsed Hillary Clinton, who is a "moderate". The political process is rigged from top to bottom.
Why do we have to rely on "delegates" to make our choices? It seems we already have the technology to vote online. Americans can already renew their auto registrations and driver licenses on line, as well as buy stocks and bonds, do their commercial and private banking, order pizzas and shop for anything we want online. So why can't Americans also and register and vote online in their local State and Federal elections? It seems that this would be very beneficial for those of us who can't take the time from work or make arrangements for child care to have to physically go to a designated voting poll — especially for those who don't have access to a car or public transportation. Imagine how great voter turn-out would be! The Republican and Democratic party machine can't say we're too ignorant to vote, because anyone can always go online to check a candidate's positions on the issues, check their voting records (and other official records) and read their local newspapers to see what's happening. And voters wouldn't have to rely on short (edited) sound bites from TV news or radio talk shows — or worse, be forced to rely on only what a candidate's campaign or super PAC ad wants us to know. We can make our own informed choices and vote accordingly — online, quick and easy — from our home computers or smart phones (like a voting app for an iPhone). If internet correspondence is safe and secure enough for our Secretary of State (who handles classified material in emails), then it should also be good enough for average voters at election time too. But it's appears the two-party political machine doesn't want this for us. Why?
Obama's campaign slogan of "Hope and Change" (change meaning to make or become different)— is no different than Bernie Sanders' plea for "a political revolution" (revolution meaning an instance of revolving). Obama's slogan may have conjured up images of fairies, rainbows and angel dust — whereas for some, the word "revolution" may conjure up images of civil war, riots, the French guillotine and genocide.
The word "conservative" means holding to traditional attitudes and values — and fears change or innovation (some say, going back to an earlier time) — whereas the word "progressive" means happening or developing gradually or in stages (or proceeding step-by-step) — and advocating social reform (some say, going forward, not back to an earlier time).
Politically, the word "moderate" basically means keeping the status quo as is — with no change or very few changes at all. That's what we have today, little hope for any change at all. The two major political parties today are basically "moderate" (and primarily differ on social issues), and are the Democratic Party — which includes a progressive caucus: The Progressive Caucus); and the Republican Party — which includes a conservative caucus: The Freedom Caucus. (Other current political parties include the Libertarian Party, the Green Party and the Constitution Party.)
But historically, the U.S. has had over 80 other political parties, such as: the Democratic-Republican Party, the Liberal Republican Party, the People's Party, the Social Democratic Party, the Independence Party, the Progressive Party, the American Labor Party, the States Rights Democratic Party and the Populist Party (see table below). In America, since its founding, there has always been "hope and change" — and many political revolutions. But not so much anymore these days.
The United States Constitution has never formally addressed the issue of political parties. The Founding Fathers did not originally intend for American politics to be partisan. In Federalist Papers No. 9 and No. 10, Alexander Hamilton and James Madison, respectively, wrote specifically about the dangers of domestic political factions. In addition, the first President of the United States, George Washington, was not a member of any political party at the time of his election or throughout his tenure as president. Furthermore, he hoped that political parties would not be formed, fearing conflict and stagnation, as outlined in his Farewell Address. Nevertheless, the beginnings of the American two-party system emerged from his immediate circle of advisers. Hamilton and Madison, who wrote the aforementioned Federalist Papers against political factions, ended up being the core leaders in this emerging party system. It was the split camps of Federalists, given rise with Hamilton as a leader, and Democratic-Republicans, with Madison and Thomas Jefferson helming this political faction, that created the environment in which partisanship, once distasteful, came to being.
Here's a shorthand history of America's major political eras (from Wiki, which I edited for length and simplicity):
- The First Party System of the United States featured the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party (Anti-Federalist). The "Era of Good Feelings" (1816–1824), marked the end of the First Party System.
- The Second Party System saw a split of the Democratic-Republican Party into the Jacksonian Democrats, who grew into the modern Democratic Party. The 1850s saw the collapse of the Whig party because of a major intra-party split over slavery as a result of the Compromise of 1850.
- The Third Party System (1854 to the mid-1890s) was characterized by the emergence of the anti-slavery Republican Party.
- The Fourth Party System (1896 to 1932) retained the same primary parties as the Third Party System, but corresponded to the Progressive Era, and was dominated by the Republican Party.
- The Fifth Party System (1933-1960s) emerged with the New Deal Coalition beginning in 1933. The Republicans began losing support after the Great Depression, giving rise to Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal.
- The Sixth Party System (1970s to the present) saw the emergence of the Moral Majority, when the Reagan coalition was formed, when the Third Way emerged among Democrats and when the Republican Revolution occurred in mid-1990s.
Since the 1930s, the Democrats positioned themselves more towards Liberalism while the Conservatives increasingly dominated the GOP. But new voter coalitions emerged during the latter half of the 20th Century, with Conservatives and the Republicans becoming dominant in the South, rural areas, and suburbs; while Liberals and the Democrats increasingly started to rely on a coalition of African-Americans, Hispanics and white urban Progressives.
American politics have almost always been dominated by the two-party system, but despite the large influence of political parties, a number of political candidates and voters refer to themselves as Independents — and choose not to identify with any particular political party at all. Several state governors and congressmen such as Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders have officially run as Independents.
* NOTE: Last June a NBC/Wall Street Journal poll found that 50 percent of Americans consider themselves independent and fewer than 30 percent align with either major party. A 2015 Gallup poll similarly found a record high number of Americans — 43 percent — consider themselves independents, with only 30 percent considering themselves Democrats and 26 percent considering them Republicans.
Politicking for the 2016 Presidential Election and Where we are Today in 2015
"Movements on the right and left are changing the political culture. Their impact can be seen in the Democratic and Republican primaries, but the media does not report it." [Note: Six corporations control 90% of the media.]
Kevin Zeese and Margaret Flowers of Popular Resistance recently wrote a very interesting analysis of our current political situation: To Understand The Presidential Primaries, Recognize The Impact Of Movements (October 29, 2015). Below are just a few excerpts:
Media pundits have not given credit to the popular movements on both the right and left. This election cycle is showing the impact of social movements on the primary campaigns — both in the polling results and in the candidates’ rhetoric.
The role of corporate Democrats has been evident in the Democratic Party for a long time. The Democratic Leadership Council, founded by Bill Clinton, Al Gore and others, was successful at destroying Howard Dean, an insurgent, but definitely not a radical one. The DLC has evolved into the Third Way Democrats, whose donors are funding former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and will seek to ensure the defeat of Sen. Bernie Sanders.
U.S. elections consist of two corporate candidates running against each other. The two political parties rig the system to prevent insurgent challenges inside the duopoly and to stop third alternatives outside the duopoly.
The U.S. is the most ingrained two-party system in the world; that is not a compliment but a description of a system that does all it can to prevent alternatives to the two corporate parties. The independent nature of U.S. voters is not reflected in elections, which makes it very difficult for alternatives to the duopoly to participate. At the same time, elections are funded by a shrinking group of the extremely wealthy. The U.S. is now widely recognized as an oligarchy, where big business and moneyed interests rule, and where democracy is a mirage.
Bernie Sanders, a lifelong independent, is running for president in the Democratic primaries and pledging to support whomever the Democrats nominate if he is not elected. He has entered a rigged Democratic primary system that has successfully blocked insurgent candidates in every election in the last 35 years. The rigging begins with super delegates who make up 20 percent of the delegates needed for nomination, it includes the front-loading of primaries so there are 23 states voting in March requiring hundreds of millions of dollars. And this year they limited debates to only six, when in 2008 there were more than two dozen. This is all designed to stack the primary in favor of establishment candidates like Hillary Clinton or Joe Biden.
Sanders has called for a revolution against the billionaire class, but accomplishing that inside a political party owned by Wall Street and other big business interests is an absurdity. While Sanders is misleading people to stay inside the Democratic Party, he is doing useful education on domestic economic issues. This is valuable to the movement’s task of building national consensus. But, when Sanders loses, which is a near certainty in the rigged Democratic Party primaries, people need to understand the problem is not his positions on the economy, but the corruption of the Democratic Party. People need to flee the party and support a third-party alternative like Jill Stein, who is likely to be the strongest third-party candidate in 2016. This is not a wasted vote — though the media will try to convince people that it is. It is voting for what you want and help building an alternative to the corporate duopoly
We know that both our major political parties are very good at stopping insurgents, but when they do, that just leads to more anger among the people and the de-legitimacy of government. I'm not so sure about Jill Stein though. Maybe if she had the same momentum as Senator Bernie Sanders, I might consider her — or even Margaret Flowers (the co-author of the article from Popular Resistance) — or especially Senator Elizabeth Warren.
If Bernie Sanders wasn't running, and Senator Elizabeth Warren was, I would vote for her — so I'm not misogynist. Just because you see me blast Hillary Clinton (link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link. link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link, link), it's not because Hillary is a woman. It's because I think she's a fake and phony and can't be trusted — and because she's a "moderate". (So to Hillary and her supporters: Stop playing the gender card!)
We need REAL change we can believe in. And it's not Hillary, who would only be another president like Obama — someone who governed as "moderate" after running as a "progressive". Hillary Clinton denies running for Obama's or her husband's third term; but basically, because of her past policy choices, that is exactly what Hillary is running for — "more of the same".
Democratic-leaning voters need to flee the Democratic party and support a third-party alternative like Bernie Sanders. Because of his overwhelming popularity, the Establishment Democratic Party Machine should nominate Bernie Sanders and support him for President — or Bernie should run as an Independent and split the vote, giving himself or the GOP a win in 2016.
If the GOP wins, then maybe the "moderate" Democrat will finally wake up and finally start listening to the people outside of the political establishment machine ... for a change, and stop making promises that they know they will never keep.