The best place for people with any degree of progressive instinct to be is right where Joe says he's sticking - inside the Democratic Party until we're in charge of it.But, it left me wanting because there are a large group of Americans, already a third party, that don't consider themselves either Democrats or Republicans. Not independents, because these people participate at a much lower level than do those of us who identify, but rather people for whom politics aren't that important.
Either for some reason just don't participate, or more insidiously, they have dropped out of the process because neither party and the entire political system, won't speak to them.
Anyway, I've been thinking a lot about the dual purposes of parties in general: to win elections and be an avenue for people to be involved in the political process. I think we've focused to much on the first and forgotten about the second. I'm not ready to really go into that, but here are two passages that have helped me think about this stuff.
The first is from Teddy Roosevelt at the founding of the Progressive Party in 1912, he's bemoaning the Democratic and Republican parties of his time:
The prime need today is to face the fact that we are now in the midst of a great economic evolution. There is urgent necessity of applying both common sense and the highest ethical standard to this movement for better economic conditions among the mass of our people if we are to make it one of healthy evolution and not one of revolution. It is, from the standpoint of our country, wicked as well as foolish longer to refuse to face the real issues of the day. Only by so facing them can we go forward; and to do this we must break up the old party organizations and obliterate the old cleavage lines on the dead issues inherited from fifty years ago. Our fight is a fundamental fight against both of the old corrupt party machines, for both are under the dominion of the plunder league of the professional politicians who are controlled and sustained by the great beneficiaries of privilege and reaction.And this from a British organization called Involve in a report of Post Party Politics:
The second pillar is to act as the main interface and conduit between people and government. This process goes way beyond MPs surgeries to involve all people who act to support government, giving their spare time to community initiatives or simply behaving as responsible citizens by recycling their waste or reporting crime. The more people who feel that they are part of or support a political ÂprojectÂ or initiative, the better its chance of success. Historically this has been achieved through the wider social movements that both the Conservative and Labour party represented, which spread their reach and connection through a nationwide network of community activists, members and social events hosted and run through their clubs. Then politics was not so much about representation but connection.We need to worry less about power and more on connection.