Friday, December 17, 2010

THE MULTIPARTY SYSTEM.

A film that redefines American political calculus
despite a muddled, overworn plea at the curtain


A major American political party can be, by one definition, a multiparty system unto itself. This is most evident in primary elections, when candidates vie for their party's "core constituencies" -- and officials adjust the party's platform, striving for a palatable structure that will house as many sub-groups as possible. Political pundits will, for instance, describe the Republican party as being comprised of the religious right, the wealthy, big business, fiscal conservatives, moderates, and the burgeoning Tea Party movement, among others, and these groups can threaten to abandon (i.e., fail to support) the coalition if they feel that the purity of their message is being compromised. The Democratic party may contain even more pieces. Every two years, after the government has been assembled, an expert socio-mathematician could attempt to define just how many blocs are in operation. Some governments can be more unified than others, and surprising partnerships can spring-up around certain issues, and a popular president can squander his mandate overnight. All true. In the end, though, if you want to vote for President, or for Senator, or for Representative, with few exceptions, you either have to vote Democrat or Republican; those are your choices: a two party umbrella. The sum of the little parties out there, simply, doesn't amount to much, beyond, for instance, a single seat in Vermont. A new documentary film, Inside Job, concludes, however, that America might have but a single party, when considering one of the most important facets of our society: the management of our vast, complex financial system. Despite the change in administration -- and the promises to the contrary that have accompanied this change -- the same kinds of faces wind up at the helm of Treasury, the Federal Reserve system, the SEC, and so forth; professionals who have been bred, apparently, on the boards or in the speculative environments of massive financial outfits. While Obama was not elected by his own party alone, and owes his presidency, at the very least, to a coalition that also included "swing voters" from other terrain, he was, nevertheless, nominated by a reinvigorated Democratic party which was driven by its fervor to rid the nation of various policies, support them or not, enacted under the presidency of Bush #2. When Democrats and Republicans alike elected candidate Obama, during a period of extreme economic distress, did they vote for him to appoint the same mold of individual appointed by the likes of Reagan, Bush #1, and Bush #2? (All Republicans.) In some cases, Obama appointed or re-appointed the very same people who served in those -- as well as centrist / similar Clinton -- administrations. One could argue that the Republicans who crossed the aisle to vote for Obama were doing so, in short, because they wanted a different kind of leadership, especially with respect to the economy. "Is there no other kind of economic leadership?" one might ask. Are there no other people? To bolster its suggestion that no, there aren't, Inside Job takes its viewers to the halls of academe where, it asserts, many faculty members employed in top-rated business schools and topnotch economics departments also serve or have served on the boards of major financial corporations, and espouse the viewpoint, to students, i.e., future leaders, that deregulation of the financial sector -- a major culprit behind the 2008 meltdown -- is sound policy. The film was, largely, a strong and frightening documentary, yet ended on a weak note. The actor Matt Damon, who served as the film's narrator, tells the audience that Americans should fight for a new kind of government, while the Statue of Liberty luxuriates in its brave stance, having been filmed, presumably, from a helicopter. It was a mixed message, at best: the voice of a wealthy actor imploring an amorphous "us" to buck for change, while an overly familiar, green and rippling French donation poses for a closeup taken from the cargo bay of an expensive, whirling gadget. The inability of the filmmaker to properly close the film unwittingly serves as a metaphor for the nation's political quagmire. The film probably meant to underscore the need for an "independent" but significant third party to arise, one to steer us Americans with the simplicity of good ideas, but it doesn't explore that slant. It doesn't ask whether independent politics are even possible, in the era of our Wall Street governance. Are we stuck, that is, with corrupt financial leadership that seems to -- magically -- reappoint itself?

12 comments:

sausages said...

Yes. Not that I'm really a big fan of Michael Moore, but even he points out in Capitalism: A Love Story that President Obama took $1 million from Goldman during the 2008 campaign. Talk about pocket change you can believe in. So, unquestionably, yes. However, what was refreshing in '10 was that people who did spend loads of $$ did not get "appointed," such as Whitman and Fiorina in CA and McMahon in CT. Perot spent his own dough and fell just short of starting something new. Bloomberg seems to be the only one that I can think of who's spent oodles of his own money and has been successful. Success in politics in this country really occurs, I think, when others spend oodles of their own money for you. I mean, after all, if so and so has his/her own money, why I should I vote for him/her if I can't buy him/her out?

Anonymous said...

this is a very serious psot! gina

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Regina: It's good to hear from you, typos and all. Are you a senior? When do you graduate? And where are you going to college? Keep up the cynicism, eh? They said it was you. I told them it was you! --BA

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Sausages:

"Pocket change you can believe in." That's a good one. And of course, you point out the fallacy of "change you can believe in." More like the opposite: "disbelief that won't change anything."

As for the other stuff -- I dunno, man. I'd join the STOUT party.

DG

Anonymous said...

May I offer a slightly different take on "special interests" and the multi-party idea? Who would oppose a political system with 300 million parties? Of course, I'm speaking of individuals, to whom "rights", such as freedom of speech are accorded, as opposed to groups, formed to promote a special interest over those individual rights. Here is an ammendment based o that cocept. No candidate for the Presidency or either house of Congress shall accept contributions in cash or in kind from any organization or group of persons for expenses incurred in a campaign for that office. All such contributions shall be made only by individual citizens who shall attest that the funds or other items of value are from their own resources and that they have not received, nor have they been promised, offsetting items of value from any other party in exchange for their contribution. The identity and extent of contributions to such campaigns shall be made public for a period of thirty days from receipt before being employed or used as collateral for a loan by such campaigns. Organizations of any type, may, without restriction, expend money to advocate a position on any issue before or likely to come before the electorate insofar as no candidate’s name or description is included in their expressions of advocacy.

Geopoulos said...

For all the grief you've given me in the past, I really don't think we'd be all that far apart, in the end, idealogically. Don't make too many assumptions, is what I'd say, about the well-intentioned members of your own party. I'm assuming that you're a Democrat.

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Anonymous -- and you are? It'd be good to have a name, or alias. But yes, sure, I don't argue with what you're saying. When you say it, though, doesn't it seem hard to imagine that we'll ever see a system like it? The major parties are otherwise too beholden (to Wall St.) to allow a system like that to root. I tried to write this post, in any event, as "independently" as I could, as the financial mismanagement doesn't seem to discriminate between Republican or Democratic control of the white house. I feel like there are no parties, at all, worthy of voting for, at the moment, and in saying that, I mean, of the parties which could actually field a winning candidate, unlike Nader, etc., who could never win. ----BA

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Geopoulos -- welcome back, you silly little freak! ----BA

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Tom, you don't have to list an email address, if you don't want to. I can deletet that comment if you want. Most of the people who comment here do so from the standpoint of aliases. But anyhow, poltically, I am, personally, about as lost as anyone. Our governments just seem thoroughly incapable of making headway on this issue. And if you believe what you read, there will be widespread crisis among state and local governments, many of which have significant debt. Wall St. can afford "bonuses" whereas states may have to throw teachers and policemen out of their jobs. BA

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

It appears that I have written a "political" post, and I apologize for that. I was striving for an apolitical post (impartial in terms of party affiliation) but in the end, I'm probably guilty of politicizing. The first and only time, in all likelihood. Apologies and bests, BA

Anonymous said...

Please delete the post with my email, and send me an email so I can address you directly, other than on the blog. Meanwhile, why not start from a Ron Paul point and see how far you can get before you see the SOS? I have problems with the Libertarian laxness towards drugs, but understand the principle upon which its based. You're about to seePaul take on the Fed, which will not endear him to Wall street, or as Malkin and others call them, the Ruling Class and The Elites. Tom Beebe

DAN / DANIEL GUTSTEIN said...

Hi Tom, I deleted the comment w/email address. Don't want to hash anything out over email, though. ----BA

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