A recent post by the master of this blog, the ever-provocative high-octane Michael Conelrad Smiff, of Kornkroft Kounty Kentucky, got me to thinking.
Our father, after some complexly emblematic Darwinian business about a former girlfriend, a four-walled bathroom, a self-cornering box turtle, and rotation on the X-Y plane, all delivered at his usual suavely leisured pulpit rate -- ends with this very literal final blasto:
"Two words, Glenn: third party. That will get their attention, if anything will; and if nothing will -- as I suspect may be the case -- then you might as well at least have some fun, and enjoy the pleasure of pulling a lever without holding your nose."I know, I know: there he goes again, just like Jimmy Carter in the Reagan debates: ever the brief slashing ridethrough on his lead hobby horse.
But as I say it got me to thinking... for once... about other parties.
*shifting to stentorian pink pedant mode*
The urge to build a third party, even when said urge erupts right here in the empire's home nation-state itself, can be either reformational in its collective aspirations or revolutional -- right?
Now if said urge is in essence reformist, as it must be if we're talking electoral action as in the post cited above... then why? I mean why build a new party... just for that... for reforming stuff. Why bother? Particularly in a de facto duopoly system like we have here and have had here since Secretary of State Marse Jeff tucked it to that lovely black gal on a bed of blueprints for UVA.
To me, it's wasteful of scarce pinko resources. I suggest:
Why not an attempt to jazz up one of the existing party ops instead? Isn't that easier? You know, head one of these fired-up reform movements at a few of its candidates by running your own brand of Democrat or Republican -- I particularly like the idea of running Republican.
Of course the third party is an electoral threat made real. It has the nice feeling of building something, and it has in the past -- long past -- levered a takeover or two of the jackass party, and even tweaked the GOP in several spots. One can think constructively of the populists and the progressives, hell, even the socialists in this light.
But I repeat -- isn't it easier just to run candidates with a reform movement backing?
Okay, you're right, it happens all the time already. Then I guess, like my doctor said about building a child, "if it hasn't worked so far, well it ain't cause your shootin' blanks. Just keep firing, Owen."
After all, even if you succeeded, and built the next prohibition party, or greenback party, or anti-masonic party or know-nothing party -- they all pass; like kidney stones, perhaps, but they pass. Even the green earth party shall pass.
These are movement organizations -- softball outfits suited up to play party hardball, and even if they are catalytic, even if they might be sufficient, they are neither easier or more effective then taking strat shots at one or other of the Orthrian heads.
Twice in the last 120 years the jackass party -- the national one, that is -- was taken over by its democratic wing, as that wooden decoy with an MD from Montpelier called it.
Yes, sure, some professional gadfly-type activists want a permanent home base, a headquarters, not only to hang their hat at, but "run" between useful splurges of effort on one or other of their dirty rotten social change tricks.
But I say, let movements be movements, not failed all-purpose outfits. Lots of good spirited folks like visiting the mall of reform now and again -- you know, go over there, hit just the change-op specialty shops they hanker to help, work for, or at, or whatever, and skip the rest of the bedlamite delusionists that happen to be rocking it up at the mall around them.
That said, now, unlike Father's squeeze's turtle, let us turn ourselves 180 degrees in the X-Y plane.
If -- I say, IF -- the urge is... revolutionary, then fellow children of the night, the project at hand, whether we know it or not, has gotta be a vanguard party project. Or at least that's what my own north star of an inner ruling narrative suggests to me.
Yes, I am fully aware a project of that dimension heft and presumption will meet resistance from all sides -- that is, if it ever gets itself to being more than a toy of a few college campuses and the red-nose reindeer sections of Manhattan and San Francisco.
The inchoate urge is there, and it's everywhere, every day, every time an activist tries turning a struggle formation like, say, the Wisconsin recall fight, into something that can outlast the specific struggle that brought that particular ad hoc formation to life.
There are always these projects, these intense brief lovely system-tasking activities, and with them always comes the emergent hope of something bigger -- organization-wise, that is; something that can gain strength each time it fights to a win and can survive both its class enemies' dogged unyielding hatred and its own leadership's periodic utter idiocy.