Hillary May Win in November, but the Duopoly Electoral System is Doomed
by BAR executive editor Glen Ford
“The very magnitude of Trump’s loss will further destabilize the duopoly system.”
All signs indicate that Bernie Sanders will follow his original flight plan to Philadelphia, with every intention of disgorging his leftish passengers at the Democratic Party terminal, in July, where they will be expected to board the shuttle busses to Hotel Hillary. How they will behave when they get there, and how many will check in for the duration, is still in question. Donald Trump’s hordes of apprentices are scheduled to arrive at the All-Caucasian Convention Center in Cleveland a week earlier, in a mood to rumble with Washington and Wall Street “elites” that may not even show up for their ass-whipping.
The crisis in the U.S. duopoly electoral system is profound, and will intensify, rather than diminish, after November, when the likely outcome is that Hillary Clinton’s “Big Tent” Democratic Party – further fattened with Trumpophobic corporate funding and flush with “moderate” Republican suburban refugees – will bury Trump’s scaled down GOP in an Electoral College landslide rivaling Barry Goldwater’s defeat by Lyndon Johnson in 1964. The very magnitude of Trump’s loss will further destabilize the duopoly system that has served the rich rulers so well for virtually the entirety of the Republic’s history.
The Republican “brand” will remain in contention in the wake of the debacle. A second party claiming to represent “Republican” principles will emerge, either as a refuge for humiliated Trump followers or as an alternate GOP fashioned and funded by the dreaded “elites.” Either way, the “old” GOP will rise again, in smaller form, to attempt to resume its interlocking corporate relationship with the Democrats, while the Trump faction will maintain its own structure, either in the shell of the current Republican Party or in some new formation.
“The ‘old’ GOP will rise again, in smaller form, to attempt to resume its interlocking corporate relationship with the Democrats.”
For the near term, the Republican project is wrecked, which, by itself, destabilizes the duopoly relationship between the two corporate parties. (Tweedle-Dum really does need Tweedle-Dee in order to fully monopolize the electoral machinery in service of Capital.) But, the contradictions in the Democratic Party are at least as deep, if not so immediately acute, as those that are ripping apart the GOP.
Bernie Sanders’ supporters make up as large a proportion of the Democrats as Trump’s legions do the Republicans. They should not be in the same party as Hillary Clinton (or Barack Obama, for that matter, but that’s a more complex story), and growing numbers of them know it. Black people have no business inhabiting the same political space as the Clintons, whose political project since the 1980s has been to marginalize and tame Black power in the party, through their Democratic Leadership Council (now defunct, due to its absolute victory). As the most pro-redistributionist, anti-war constituency in the country, Black America most resembles the Scandinavian social democrats of Sanders’ dreams. They should be first out the door of a corporate dominated party, but are held in place by the duopoly structure that assigns them to the Democrats. Most Black people are aware that they are captives of the Democrats – they know their relationship with the party is not really a matter of choice, but are glad to have any place at all to shelter from the dreaded White Man’s Party.
“Blacks should be first out the door of a corporate dominated party, but are held in place by the duopoly structure that assigns them to the Democrats.”
The great, uncultivated spaces in U.S. politics are to the left of the corporate dominated Democrats. This includes a smaller, unique space that yearns to be filled by a self-determinant, independent Black politics. The duopoly is designed to keep these spaces dormant, quiescent, untilled. The mass of Bernie Sanders’ white supporters want to cultivate this space to Hillary’s left – the space where there is a “Future to Believe In” – but are learning that they cannot do so under the terms of the duopoly. And, if the choice were no longer between corporate Democrats and the White Man’s Party, Black politics would rapidly shift to an independent, decidedly more radical track, in sync with the Black Radical Tradition that is manifest even among female West Point cadets.
Donald Trump’s followers are defined almost entirely by race. Were they not racists, they would find other space than the Republican Party to wage a class battle against economic elites. What they are actually demanding is White Space, White Jobs, and a White America, and until recently they believed that was what the GOP offered. This political cohort, representing at least a third of white America, is best left in the self-quarantine of their own racist political enclosure – if only so that other white people will stop making excuses for them. Their exit from – or rejection by – the Republican Party and its corporate fathers is a hugely (!) positive development, since it weakens the duopoly and sets an example for other “dissidents.” (I believe, but of course cannot prove, that the Sanders surge would not have been so strong had the Trump zealots not shown such doggedness in the face of furious “elite” and media criticism.)
“What they are actually demanding is White Space, White Jobs, and a White America, and until recently they believed that was what the GOP offered.”
Leftists are devising strategies on the fly to intervene in a Democratic Party primary process that is designed to end with progressives locked in the sheep pen. Unless Bernie Sanders has undergone a “road to Damascus” transformation and agrees to run as an independent – as proposed in a petition circulated by Kshama Sawant, of Socialist Alternative – the only electoral option for anti-duopolists is to channel as many Sanders supporters as possible into the Green Party camp (or other independent tickets) in November. Various activities are being organized towards that end, before, during and after the Philadelphia convention.
Ultimately, Hillary Clinton will be elected. But, everyone’s expected that to happen for years. The real story of 2016 is that this was the electoral season when the U.S. duopoly system began to come undone. The change happens first in the minds of the people, and can only be measured later, when they are fully in motion. Such transformations occur when masses of people see themselves as part of a large, newly emergent group. Trump’s followers coalesced around his candidacy to become something more than just a bunch of angry white folks. During the primary process, they got to measure themselves for size, as a group, and were impressed. They started to see their group as a social force – and became one. It’s what humans do at critical junctures in history – including racists.
The Bernie Sanders people, scattered in their millions, became a self-aware social force through a similar process. They will not go away, or be dismissed out of existence by CNN pundits. Many now hate the Democratic Party, although they didn’t start out the season that way. They want to occupy those political spaces to the Left of Hillary.
Young Black people, half of whom favored Sanders despite the near-universal endorsement of Clinton by the local and national Black Misleadership Class, are reclaiming Black political and physical space. They are determined that Black America re-emerge as a social force, and their most talented elements specifically reject the U.S. duopoly system.
These forces – the Progressive, the Black, and yes, the Racist – will not be contained by the two-party corporate arrangement. The unraveling has begun.