"There is always a philosophy for lack of courage."—Albert Camus

Wednesday, September 06, 2006

Protecting Our Freedom From Our Duopoly

Pardon the coinage. It's merely a succinct way of saying that the Democratic and Republican parties have used legal means to prevent any new party from seriously threatening their shared control of the political system. In consequence, their power brokers are relatively well insulated from the displeasure of the electorate, since each can point to the other and say, "Oh yeah? Well, if you don't stick by me, look at what you'll get instead!"

For a freedom lover, the most galling thing about this arrangement is that each party, when in power, applies far more energy to advancing the anti-freedom parts of its agenda than it does to the pro-freedom parts. When the party in power is deposed and its adversary takes the helm, rather than undoing its predecessor's crimes against individual liberty, it adds its own.

In The God Of The Machine, Isabel Paterson made reference to the political ratchet effect:

Further, political power has a ratchet action; it works only one way, to augment itself. A transfer occurs by which the power cannot be retracted, once it is bestowed.


Paterson's major example, the persistence of the Prohibition enforcement agencies even after the repeal of the Eighteenth Amendment, suggests that her focus was on "issue" usurpations, independent of party involvement. I wonder what she would have thought of today's "ping-pong ratchet," wherein citizens are encouraged to look to the Democrats to undo the excesses of the Republicans, and vice-versa, but are almost always disappointed and worse.

We who consider the global anti-terrorism campaign to be the most important issue of our time have been strongly encouraged to return Republican officeholders to power, despite their excessive federal spending and their repeated trouser-dropping for various interest groups. Come November, quite a lot of Americans will pull the Republican levers with distaste, for those very reasons. Similarly, a lot of left-of-center types will pull the Democratic levers with a grimace, because of Democrats' clear unwillingness to fight the War Against Islamic Aggression without the French alongside them. But if history is a guide, whichever party should have hegemony after the fall elections will do further damage to freedom through its domestic policies.

Given the stability of the duopoly, what alternatives does the freedom lover have? Is there any way to discipline the G.O.P. out of its profligacy? Is there any way to turn the party of Jefferson and Jackson away from special-interest statism and back toward Constitutional liberty?

I've long been a fan of "None Of The Above" -- the only "candidate" that never, ever lies or abuses his powers -- but that choice has been forbidden to nearly all of us as well. Apart from a massive tax rebellion or an armed uprising, what other avenues remain?

November draws ever nearer. We should give the matter some thought.

11 comments:

Tom Van Dyke said...

The 3rd party in the UK, the Liberal Democrats, are "none of the above," and they're thoroughly useless.

I do find it interesting that the 2nd-place Conservative Party ("Tories"), being out of power and with whom you'd think I'd embrace uncritically, employ many of the same spurious criticisms of the Blair government as our Democrats use on the Bushies. Surely there's a dynamic operating here that has nothing to do with core beliefs.

I'd be a Blairite, despite the nearly-unanimous criticism in the UK (and I'm sure I'd agree, especially about his disgraceful nonresponse to the crisis of Swindon's railway service) over his performance on domestic issues.

I'd be in the minority there, too, but leadership of the free world (which looks like it's fit to belly-up and die about now), ain't as easy as criticizing it.

In fact, I might be forced to become a Guilianist, despite my disagreement with him on a myriad of issues, for just that reason.

I must vote "above," not "none of the."

tbmbuzz said...

TERM LIMITS, TERM LIMITS, TERM LIMITS!!

Matt Huisman said...

The only hope for responsible government is (gulp) a responsible and interested public, starting with a competent press. I don’t really see how term limits or third parties would change things much, as they do nothing to discourage bad behavior.

Now projects like the PorkBusters campaign look interesting, as they are attempts to introduce transparency and shame into the process. But I don’t see it lasting, as too many Americans appreciate ‘their’ representative’s prowess in the vote buying game. Perhaps the best we can hope for is some improvement in the quality of what the government wastes our money on. Hmmm, could there be such a thing as Quality-Assured Pork?

tbmbuzz said...

The only hope for responsible government is (gulp) a responsible and interested public, starting with a competent press.

An educated public is even more important. The only way to achieve this, of course, is to end the government and union monopoly on public education and introduce competition into the educational field. But this will never happen, thus this dream is a chimera.

One of my favorite tongue-in-cheek suggestions, heh heh, is to forbid attorneys from holding public office!

It would also be a good thing to institute mechanisms to make idiotic laws easier to repeal. In our system of government it is virtually impossible to repeal any law.

Balanced budget requirements would go a long way to deter pork barrel spending. So would a line item veto for the executive branch of government.

tbmbuzz said...

I don’t really see how term limits or third parties would change things much


A system that would get rid of the Ted Kennedys, Robert Byrds, Strom Thurmonds, Jesse Helms's of the world cannot be all bad! It certainly would not make things worse.

tbmbuzz said...

Balanced budget requirements would go a long way to deter pork barrel spending.

I need to qualify this by adding that limits on taxation need to accompany a balanced budget scenario. Getting rid of all income taxes and instituting a consumption tax such as the Fair Tax proposal would be good.

The Classic Liberal Anonymous said...

An educated public is even more important. The only way to achieve this, of course, is to end the government and union monopoly on public education and introduce competition into the educational field.

Ding ding ding ding ding! Don, please tell our contestant what he wins!

Here's a wild idea: if you're on the government dole, you cannot vote.

James Elliott said...

Here's a wild idea: if you're on the government dole, you cannot vote.

Oh for the love of Pete. "Classical liberal" my foot. As far as I'm concerned, this just demonstrates what a total mental illness contemporary conservatism is.

"We who consider the global anti-terrorism campaign to be the most important issue of our time have been strongly encouraged to return Republican officeholders to power..."

And you were doing so well. Here's a challenge for you: Give me substantive, in-context proof that any Democrat or liberal leader or politician, anywhere, doesn't agree on the strategic objective of combatting and defeating terrorism. Give me proof of what you assert. I want a justified list of what Democrats in particular have done that shows they aren't serious about the so-called war on terror.

I bet dollars to donuts that you can't.

Francis W. Porretto said...

James, learn to read. We have been strongly encouraged, exactly as I said, in the main by staunch Republican partisans. I did not say that it would necessarily be the course that would best promote that end.

Sheesh. Why do I bother? By now I should know better than to expect a rabid leftist ever to allow words their true meanings. No longer.

"I'm not deaf, I'm ignoring you."

(from a lapel button)

James Elliott said...

Your response is "But that's not what I meant"? Because unless you're semantically redefining after the fact what you wrote ("Similarly, a lot of left-of-center types will pull the Democratic levers with a grimace, because of Democrats' clear unwillingness to fight the War Against Islamic Aggression without the French alongside them."), then the charge sticks.

Seriously, Mr. Porretto, you clearly haven't been reading my comments here at all if you want to call me a rabid leftist. Either that, or your definition of both rabid and leftist have stretched the terms beyond all rational meaning.

Tell me, aside from vehemently disagreeing with Right Wing fanatics afraid of every be-turbaned shadow, how have I demonstrated "rabid leftism." Or are you just engaging in the typical modern conservative conflation of leftism and liberalism that is so popular yet so intellectually vapid?

James Elliott said...

"James, learn to read."

Francis, learn grammar. Learn to love the ellipse (...). It is your friend when dealing with wordy fellows such as the two of us.