The Binary Fallacy and the End of Both Political Parties

(Wash., DC)  The results of eight years of Bush-Cheney at the helm make the demise of the Republican Party an easy call.  Our financial system is on life support.  The major banks are insolvent, according to banking and legal authority William K. Black.  If they're not, they're in intensive care.

No matter how many trillions of dollars worth of infusions they receive, they're not making loans.  The economy is in a free fall with growth down 6% a quarter and job losses running at nearly  600,000 a month.  We're stuck in two catastrophic wars.  Despite President Obama's election, we're viewed with suspicion and disregard throughout the world.

The public knows which party bears the primary blame for all of this and they're not about to forget any time soon.  The Republican Party is headed for the political graveyard.

They're not going to rely on past achievements though.  Through their self-proclaimed national leader, the odious Rush Limbaugh, they've chosen to attack the first Latino nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Sonia Sotomayor, for being a "racist."  Former Oxycontin addict Limbaugh said, "She brings a form of bigotry and racism to the court."  He went on to say that nominating her was like nominating Klansman and Aryan Nation advocate David Duke for the highest court.

These charges are quite literally bizarre, particularly with Limbaugh calling anyone else a racist.  Newt Gingrich has joined Limbaugh in a duet of stupidity.  This is appropriate since Gingrich is the architect of the power and policies used by Republicans to drive the nation into its current crisis.

The political impact for Republicans will be devastating.  Sotomayor is the first Latino nominated to the Supreme Court.  Latinos represent the fastest growing ethnic group in the United States.  They went for Obama 67% to McCain’s 33%, and comprised 9% of the electorate in 2008.  Among Latino youth, the fastest growing segment of the Latino population, the choice was 76% Obama compared to 19% McCain.

Sotomayor is also a woman nominee.  Women comprised 53% of the electorate in 2008 and they went for Obama 56% to 43% for McCain.  Many of those women are working and struggle with fools like Rush Limbaugh and Newt Gingrich on a regular basis.

The Republicans are like an early adolescent frenetically trying on new identities, each seemingly stranger than the last.  Led by the Southern wing, the party began by opposing the bailout for the big three U.S. automakers.  Acting as though the nation doesn't need any heavy industry or a few million people don't need a job, their mask of fiscal rigor hid the fact that key southern states have the manufacturing base for major foreign automakers.

They then turned to Rush and, at the same time, held a national protest in April.  Sparsely  attended, this nationwide event acquired the unfortunate name of "Tea bagging."   It failed to produce anything more than some Jerry Springer quality footage for a brief spot on local news.  Recently, the national Republican Party, backed by early presidential aspirant Gingrich, tried to rename the Democrats as the "Democratic Socialist Party."  There is no end in sight to this parade of irrelevant, out of touch efforts.

We're now seeing the final phases of the Republican dance macabre.  The Limbaugh-Gingrich anti-Latino campaign is so dangerous that some Republican senators, including right wing Sen. John Cornyn (R-TX), are moving away from the slanders against Sotomayor.  John McCain (R-AZ) also sees the implications for his party.  He's signed up to attend the National Council of La Raza conference this summer to counter the anti Latino rhetoric spread by other Republican leaders.

Democratic loyalists are acting as though the Republican demise is an accomplishment on their part.  It is as though their understated -- but very complicit -- support of the Republican policies of empire and wealth transfer to the ultra wealthy will go unnoticed.

Congressional Democrats voted in the majority to authorize the Iraq invasion.  They voted in the majority to fund the Iraq adventure long after the lies leading to war were well known.  A majority of Senate Democrats voted for the Patriot Act.   A Democratic controlled Senate allowed further government spying on personal communication (FISA Amendments) in 2008 and a third of Senate Democrats supported the Military Commissions Act of 2006, which gutted habeas corpus.

Democrats voted for the initial Wall Street welfare bill; also know as the bailout.  Right now, the Obama administration is responsible for doubling the Bush administrations cash transfer form the U.S. Treasury to Wall Street and the banks.  Democrats failed to pass the only major bill to ease rampant foreclosures.  This left 1.7 million families likely to lose their homes.  Democrats did pass a credit card reform bill but forgot to cap those 29% interest limits that the banks arbitrarily assign.

There was an announced policy to leave Iraq.  To date, all we've seen are plans to open up a new phase of the Afghan war with tens of thousands of troops simply switching job assignments from Iraq to an even more treacherous landscape.  Ominously, we now have plans for super embassy in Pakistan to rival the fortress constructed in Iraq.

Democrats don't want people to see pictures of Bush-Cheney torture from the prison at Guantanamo, probably because it occurred with funding that they helped provide.  They don't want to close that facility if it means housing prisoners in the United States.  This forced their president into the extraordinary and troubling position of maintaining current prisoners in Cuba.   As the Democratic Senators participated in the 90 to 6 vote to refuse President Obama funds to close Guantanamo, they were resolute in failing to mention that only10 of over 400 prisoners there are charged with a violent crime.  To borrow an appropriate response, You've done enough.   Have you no sense of decency, at long last? Apparently not.

Democrats won't even talk about the deaths of over a million Iraqi civilians due to civil strife caused by the war that they funded.  Failing to talk about it means it never happened, they hope.

Despite all of the alleged but obvious crimes of Bush-Cheney against people here and around the world, the Democrats want to "look forward" and bypass prosecutions of any sort against the Bush administration.

The Binary Fallacy

The binary fallacy is the crude dialectic that assumes that the two political parties are the only choices for voters and that what's bad for one party will always be good for the other.  As evidence for this, we have Nixon's Watergate scandal followed by huge Democratic victories in congressional elections.  President Carter's economically distressed four years begat the Reagan revolution and so forth.

Democrat Party operatives see the collapse of the nation and attendant pain as working against the Republicans since they were in control when the decline was assured by Republican sponsored programs.  The situation is so bad, they argue, no one will take the Republicans seriously over the near and midterm.  Add the highly favorable demographics among youth, women, and the emerging Latino population and you've got the dominant political party of the next few decades.

Republican loyalists speak of the risks that the Obama administration has inherited.  When he falters, as he may given the circumstances that Republicans know all too well, his failure will assure a Republican comeback they argue.

Both parties fail to realize two flaws in their embedded fallacy.

First, the fallacy became a manufactured truth over decades due to the rigged game of U.S. politics.  Funding and access to major media presume membership in one of the two major parties.  Third party candidates need to poll equal or ahead in the public opinion polls, as Ross Perot did in 1992, in order to get any media attention or money.  When the system is heavily rigged to exclude third parties, then, of course, there are only two choices.

The second flaw in the binary fallacy is embodied by our current troubles.  The fallacy does not take into account successful performance during extreme crises.  We're either in a depression or we're in the most severe financial crisis since the Great Depression.  Times are desperate for tens of millions.  The vast majority lives in fear of entering the world of the unemployed, homeless, and bereft.  Iraq is the biggest foreign policy disaster in modern times.  Our new plans for an Afghanistan adventure have the potential to equal Iraq in terms of national loss and increased threats of blowback.

One party created the current disaster.  The other has embraced the broadest parameters of the policies that created the disasters that voters want fixed -- wealth transfers to the ultra rich while the vast majority gets just about nothing plus mindless, counter productive fantasies of empire through war.

The two parties and the elitists who look down their noses on the overwhelming majority of citizens assume that the people will simply tolerate the creation of a catastrophe by one party and the perpetuation of that grave injustice to citizens by the other.

When you're broke, you know it.

When you're out of work, you know it.

When there are no jobs, you know it.

And when the country continues to fight overseas but does nothing to protect economic security at home, you know it.

The game is up.  The party is over.  The people have a fundamental right to survive, at the very least.  If both parties continue to promote policies that leave out almost all citizens, as is now the case, there will be alternatives that look nothing like the current two political parties.  The binary fallacy and the two parties that fail to address our crises will be no more.  Relying solely on the failures of the opposing party while embracing their programs will soon be defunct.


Special thanks to Kathyn Stone for her helpful comments.

Images:  Gingrich Geithner-Obama

Permission granted to reproduce in part or whole with attribution of authorship and a link to this article.

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This is a very interesting and thought provoking article. But while your facts are flawless, I think you go farther in your remedy than is necessary, or wise. The problem is not with the two-party system - the problem is who we elect to represent us in the two-party system, so I think you’re throwing the baby out with the bath water.

Creating a third party will allow the same old forces in the Republican Party to reinvent themselves under another name. Being the opportunists that they are, they’ll simply abandon the Republican brand, call themselves something else, and it's business as usual. That would allow then to attribute all of their misdeeds to the name "Republican", then walk away from their past.

In fact, for that reason, I hope to God they don’t read this blog, because you’ve provided them with the perfect solution to their problem. Under your plan Republicans can walk away from Bush, Cheney, Limbaugh, Palin, Iraq, and all of their other liabilities with impunity.

A much better way to approach the problem is to keep the two party system in place, which, in essence, will force the Republican demagogues to continue to sport the scarlet letter ® of their crimes, then use the primary system to replace turncoat Democrats with a new and better breed. That way, when we’re done cleaning house, the Republicans will still have to be accountable for their corrupt stupidity, and at the same time, we can send an unmistakable message to the reminding Democratic politicians that they’re nothing more than public servants, and easily disposable.

That way, the people are back in the driver's seat.  It's all about keeping life simple, and simplicity is the key to life.

Eric L. Wattree

Religious bigotry: It's not that I hate everybody who doesn't look, think, and act like me - it's just that God does.

Ola Wattree,

This is a good point you make -- "the problem is who we elect to represent us in the two-party system."  I'd insert one word here.  how and who (is there an "m" missing"?)  I maintain, not controversially btw, that the elections have become a means of control and the campaigns a mode of diversion away from vital issues.  The how of that is through the total domination of everything electoral through funding.  The various reform measures have been an insult to our intelligence, quite frankly.   More here.

The prediction on Republican behavior is right on target.  It applies to the cadre of current and former leaders as well.  They'd create a new vehicle with just the right branding, turn around, and trash their former store front.  The Republicans would be the most shameless but they may just be out of steam.  I'd hoped for a people's takeover of the Democratic Party but they won't even throw us a bone.  They forgot that the real way to stay in control is to manufacture hope. 

"In fact, for that reason, I hope to God they don’t read this blog, because you’ve provided them with the perfect solution to their problem."  Now that would be horrible.  They might actually contact me, a member of what they used to call "the little people."  They don't care about any real planning, I believe, because they've been immune to consequences.  They're riding a record breaking wave control.  The periods of enlightenment and social justice have been there, without any doubt, but those are put to the side.  These leaders see themselves as infallible.  Why wouldn't they?

We'll buy anything, must be the refrain. 

Whatever works is fine with me.  My two stage wakeup call came with the appointments of Geithner and Summers and the follow through (and absurdity) of maintaining one illegal war while expanding that to another just to the north.  I see that as the ultimate surrender to irrationality.  It simply can't work.  With Obama's considerable political skills, how is he going to disavow the bailout and foreign wars?  Say, "I'm changing this because I was fooled." 

"That way, the people are back in the driver's seat.  It's all about keeping life simple, and simplicity is the key to life."  Agreed!.

"Furthest from him is best, whom reason hath equaled, force hath made supreme above his equals." Milton


"Furthest from him is best, whom reason hath equaled, force hath made supreme above his equals." Milton

You do a good job of expressing the issues currently, I think, and although I understand Eric Wattree's sentiment (share it as things currently stand, in fact), I think what you and I agree upon is the need for a SYSTEMIC makeover. 

One that removes the bindings of either party to the will of corporate power.

On Buzzflash, I expressed the sentiment that a two-part answer is the only one that would work but, in fact, I always forget to voice the underlying assumption that I first joined ePluribus with, that the corporate-controlled media sets the agenda that my binary problems lobbyists-campaign finance-addicted elected officials-- then negotiates their governing priorities around.

The part of Eric's argument that I agree with is the part that fears the third corporate-allied party.  It'd be analogous to what Bush's henchmen did, in 2004, supporting Nader. 

Citizens for a Sound Economy, now the infamous teabagging Freedomworks, supported Nader's getting onto the ballot wherever possible in order to chip away the margin of support for Kerry. 

CSE backs Nader's 2004 ballot bid

and any solution that would set up such a possibility of using front groups in that way, is absolutely unsuitable. 

In truth, I'd prefer that our political contests were multi-party competitions that forced REAL coaltions of political interests (not the farcical front groups formed by National Association of Manufacturers + US Chamber of Commerce + ad nauseum) to work at sharing the decision-making process of government.  Oddly enough, perhaps, like some of the Europeans or the Israelis are forced to live with or to throw out with votes of no confidence.

My comment responding to the suggestion of another, from Buzzflash:

RE: There is only 1 answer=campaign reform,campaign reform,campaign reform!!! 

Combined with real-time high-detail lobbying disclosure. Either one separately is only half an answer.


"I hope we shall crush in its birth the aristocracy of our moneyed corporations which dare already to challenge our government in a trial of strength, and bid defiance to the laws of our country." - Thomas Jefferson