The takeover of the U.S. Capitol by violent right-wing extremists that resulted in Congress being shut down today is telling by the support such paramilitary groups have received from key members of the Republican Party along with their president who encourages such violence.
The scenes of the ineffectiveness of the security forces in stopping a coup d’état – commonly defined as the removal of an existing government from power, usually through violent, illegal, and unconstitutional means – are also telling. As a friend rhetorically asked, Would the actions of Capitol security forces been so passive if these right-wing terrorists had been Brown or Black rather than White? Based on U.S. history, including our current historical moment, unlikely.
The Republican and Democratic parties continue to demonstrate how relatively useless they are for our most vulnerable populations while voting for obscene funding for the military-surveillance-industrial complex that produces little or no value to the daily lives of ordinary citizens – and in turn together have allowed the growth of right-wing terrorism.
The two mainstream parties have enabled political chaos largely by their collective ineptness and avoidance to create humane policies that serve the vital interests of the general public. For a moment, let’s summarize a few of the inequities that both parties have been implicated in and have callously allowed since the days of the administrations of both Reagan and Clinton.
Inequities perpetuated by current mainstream parties
· Apathetic response to right-wing terrorists groups: “Right-wing attacks and plots account for the majority of all terrorist incidents in the United States since 1994, and the total number of right-wing attacks and plots has grown significantly during the past six years. Right-wing extremists perpetrated two thirds of the attacks and plots in the United States in 2019 and over 90 percent between January 1 and May 8, 2020.” (Center for Strategic and International Studies)
· Growing unhoused/unsheltered populations: Prior to the pandemic, an estimated 1,500,000 public school children lacked sufficient sheltering. (Education Week)
· Unaffordable housing: “Half of families who rent and nearly one-fourth of home owners pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income toward their housing costs, a level widely considered unsustainable. (Washington Post)
· 1/6 of U.S population hungry: In 2020 an estimated 50,400,000 people – including 17,000,000 children – experienced food insecurity. (National Geographic)
· Obscene inequality: For the past 30 years “most affluent families have added to their net worth, while those on the bottom have dipped into ‘negative wealth,’ meaning the value of their debts exceeds the value of their assets.” Meanwhile, 5% of U.S. citizens own 2/3 of all wealth in U.S., a condition that is accelerating each day as the pandemic continues. (Inequality.org)
· Apartheid conditions for the poor: “Communities are often segregated by socio-economic status (SES), race, and ethnicity. These communities commonly share characteristics: low economic development; poor health conditions; and low levels of educational attainment…Research indicates that there are large health disparities based on social status that are pervasive and persistent. These health disparities reflect the inequalities that exist in our society.” (American Psychological Association)
· Occupational sex segregation and gender pay gaps: Women (a) remain locked out of the majority of male-dominated, well-paying jobs and (b) continue to earn just 80% of what a male receives. (Stanford Center on Poverty and Inequality)
· Exclusionary practices against sexual minorities: “Experiences of interpersonal discrimination were common for LGBTQ adults, including slurs, microaggressions, sexual harassment, violence, and harassment regarding bathroom use.” Bottom line: “Discrimination is widely experienced by LGBTQ adults across health care and other domains, especially among racial/ethnic minorities.” (National Library of Medicine)
· Decline of nation’s infrastructure: “In addition to the threat to human safety of catastrophic failures such as bridge collapses or dam breaches, inadequately maintained roads, trains, and waterways cost billions of dollars in lost economic productivity” (Council on Foreign Relations)
And so on.
The Republican Party demonstrates through words and actions a lack of interest in any of the above cited problems of inequities. The Democratic Party primarily wrings its hands and does everything in its power to marginalized progressives in their own party who offer concrete equitable solutions. It’s no longer reasonable to claim that these two parties represent anything resembling a democracy based in equity and fairness. Now is the time to begin the breakup of these parties that maintain the elites while plunging the rest of us into the dystopic reality before us. A multi-party system would allow proportionally Congressional seating.
What might it look like?
As a start:
1. The extreme right of the Republican Party forms a militant party:
- Prioritizes ideologies of a White nationalistic apartheid “multiculturalism” with its various anti-democracy, anti-feminist, and anti-socialists positions while leaving the inequalities of capitalism intact, especially in regards to police and military funding so as to align policing actions with this party’s ideology.
2. The remaining Republicans & right-learning Democrats form an authoritarian conservative party:
- Prioritizes ideologies that preserve the status quo, private property over pubic goods, “traditional customs,” and elitist monoculturalism while supporting unregulated capitalism and opposing worker unions and any expansions of welfare assistance.
3. The so-called “centrists” of the Democratic Party form a liberal party:
- Prioritizes ideologies of individualism, meritocratic “equality,” and assimilationist multiculturalism while softly regulating capitalism and offering limited incremental welfare expansion policies.
4. The left-leaning members of the Democratic Party form a progressive party:
- Priorities ideologies that favor anti-discriminatory group rights, worker unions, a multiculturalism of differences, alternatives to current policing practices, and socially-useful economic policies supported through significant taxation on all aspects of corporate capitalism while significantly expanding welfare eligibility and benefits.
The archaic 2-party system and its support of the anti-democratic Electoral College that was designed to protect the elites from the “masses” has demonstrated that each of the current parties is incapable of meaningful policies that benefit the majority of Americans.
Such a change won’t happen overnight. Progressives especially will need to build coalitions both inside and outside of electoral politics to make any dent in the inequities and paramilitary violence that the 2-party system has permitted to fester. But now is the time to get the conversation going before the 2-party system slowly but surely allows the slippage of U.S. governance toward a 21st century fascist reality.