Let’s Have a Party!
By Patrick F. Cannon
In case you haven’t noticed, we now have four political parties, so eventually we’re going to need names for them. As a public service, I will take on this responsibility.
I had thought I might look to France and Italy for inspiration – each, after all, has 40 or so parties – but I discovered that they had foreign-sounding names, so no dice there. Of course, you might ask why we would need names for four, since it’s well known that the United States has a “two party system.” What’s wrong with keeping it that way? Normally, I would be inclined to agree, since it has served us well since just before the Civil War, but I couldn’t help noticing that both the Democrats and Republicans seem to be breaking down into distinct factions. So why not help them along?
Sandernistas. The father (or is it grandfather) of the far-left wing of the Democrat Party is the Honorable Bernard Sanders, the junior senator from Vermont. When we think of Vermont, what usually comes to mind is Maple Syrup and Fall foliage, not Brooklyn-born socialists, but perhaps you haven’t been to Vermont lately. Bernie, as his mostly-young acolytes call him, is a graduate of the University of Chicago, where he earned his Marxist bonifides as a member of the Young People’s Socialist League, the Congress of Racial Equality and the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee.
Back in Brooklyn, he was only one of many socialists, so he headed north to greener pastures. He first ran for office in Burlington as a member of the Liberty Union Party (Motto: Get Everything Free or Die), but now serves as an “Independent.” In the Senate, he caucuses with the Democrats, and ran for President in their primaries of 2016. Among other things, he is for a single-payer health system, free advanced education for all, and a guaranteed income whether you actually bother to work or not. He advocates having the rich pay for all of this largesse.
Sandernistas don’t read history, so Bernie may not be aware that this has been tried before. After World War II, Britain’s Labor Party got even with the aristocracy by imposing high taxes and death duties. Those who didn’t run out of dough just left the country for less taxing climes. Eventually, there was no one left to tax, the economy collapsed and the hated Margaret Thatcher was waiting in the wings. Oh, and don’t forget the glories of Venezuela, Cuba, North Korea, etc.
Some worry that Bernie is 77, but they should be heartened by the fact that waiting in the wings is 29-year-old Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, the youngest ever member of Congress. She agrees with Bernie on almost everything, when she isn’t trying to figure out how to stop cows from farting, and keeping airplanes aloft without fuel.
Democrat. After the “progressives” decamp, there will still be sufficient old-fashioned Democrats to make a decent showing. Adaptation has always been one of their strong points. Andrew Jackson, who killed the odd enemy in duels and herded the Southeastern Native Americans to verdant Oklahoma, is one of their heroes. They were also the party of slavery and, later, segregation. To be fair, beginning with FDR, they made amends to the point where their Southern brethren no longer felt welcome (see Republicans below). With all the youngsters bolting to Bernie, they might have something of an age problem, although good old Joe Biden is only 76.
No Nothings. The far right of the Republican Party should leave a party that believes in free markets, free trade and personal freedom and revive the No Nothing party of the 1840s and 1850s. They too were anti-immigration, and wanted to make America great (and white and protestant) again. Donald Trump, who managed to graduate from college without learning anything, has been a natural leader, particularly since he not only wants to seal off our borders, but raise tariff walls as well. I’m sure he’s never heard of the Smoot-Hawley Tariff act of 1930, which raised tariffs to end the Depression. Like Socialism, maybe it will work this time.
Republican. If they rid themselves of the No Nothings, perhaps the Republicans can regain their souls and remember that they’re the party of Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan. They might also remember that free trade and Capitalism have together vastly reduced abject poverty around the world, and that collective security kept the Soviet Union in check and ultimately led to its downfall. If they can do that, then we might begin to forgive them for their abject submission to one of the truly bad men to have served as President of the United States.
So, there you have it. Some of the old and some of the new. I’m sure you’ll be able to easily choose where you belong. As for me, I’m waiting for the formation on yet another party, which I would call the Liberal Party, but “liberal” in its original meaning.
Copyright 2019, Patrick F. Cannon