Lesser-evilism and third parties

John Halle john.halle at yale.edu
Tue Aug 29 15:13:09 PDT 2000

> >
> >I agree that "good guvmint" solutions won't get us anywhere without a
> >broader analysis of what's wrong. But in combination with such an
> >analysis, they might be a useful tool.
> What he said :)

Gee, now I'll actually have to think about what I actually meant.

> While we're at it, let's overthrow the capitalist system, expropriate the
> expropriators, and institute a socialist democracy. What's wrong with
> wanting it all?

The issue is not so much what we want-I think there is general agreement on this list (though god knows this will trigger the usual flames) on what "we" want. The interesting (and important) questions at the moment have to do with what is the best short and intermediate term strategy towards achieving "it." My argument was that, as an issue, its hard to know how to sell PR or IRV and to mobilize a constituency behind it. This does not mean that one does not include it, say, in the Green party platform, but it does mean that if you're preparing a flyer to hand out in front of a supermarket, as I'm in fact doing at this very moment, it doesn't make the cut of the six or seven items that get onto the page.

Also, I think its worth pointing out that questions having to do with the engineering of democracy are invariably much more attractive to policy wonks of all varieties than democracy itself. They, and only they, have the expertise to argue about how the system should be implemented, what electoral consequences it might have, how it reinforces or challenges ethnic, gender, racial diversity and identity etc. In so doing, it excludes from the discussion those non-technocrats who don't spend all their waking hours reading policy journals but know they are getting screwed by the policies which wonks have been complicit in putting over on them.

Again, it doesn't mean that such issues aren't worth discussing and thinking about, but it is worth considering the general proposition that the technical minutiae of policy can be as much a tool to prevent mass participation in political discussion and politics as they are the means by which repressive and undemocratic politics is put into effect.

The bottom line is that the best issues for us are the ones for which the ball is in everyone's court, so to speak, in that any idiot knows that the bipartisan consensus is insane, e.g. defense spending, the drug war, the death penalty etc.


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