Monday, August 29, 2016

It Takes Time But, Eventually, They Catch Up

I have long been familiar (and weary) of the old line that "a conservative is a liberal who's been mugged."  I recently found a nice counterpoint to it, however:  "a liberal is a conservative who's been arrested."  Very true.

But, mainly, in my experience, a conservative is someone consistently behind liberals when it comes to catching up to reality.  Whether it's the need for paid family leave, or even their own perfidy in creating an environment in which there is no framework for debate, they catch up and fess up.  It takes time. Sometimes, an unconscionable amount of time.  But, sooner or later, they get there.

The trouble now is, however, that, in a digital age, it may not be possible to be patient with the slowness of their ability to catch up.  Sometimes, they may do it just on time.  Sometimes, not yet, but sometimes in the future, it may be too late.  For some of us.  For all of us.

This may be another way of saying that, in an age in which events and our responses to them move at the speed of light, democracy may just accelerate the pace at which one or more dictatorships spring up.  Or, more optimistically, it may be another justification for having a system of government like ours, where power is divided, and "speed bumps" are built into the pace of change.

What I do know for certain is that there is no excuse for dropping out, and hoping for a better candidate, party or leader.  In a democracy, you are always your own best leader.  And, when you use your voice in combination with others, and without giving up, you do have the power to prevent the devil from taking the hindmost.  You thus bring the hindmost along with you, into a future that you have believed in and one that they could never have envisioned.

So don't give up.  Not in 2016, and not ever.  As Barack Obama once said, you are the change you seek.  Don't sit on it.  Make it.

Cities And Countries Are Built, And Rebuilt, From The Ground Up

The Berlin Wall was not taken down by governments, or ideologies.  It was taken down by people, people who were tired of being separated by hatreds and misunderstandings cooked up by politicians they no longer trusted.  Today, thanks to their courage and resolve, Berlin is one city again.

Something similar needs to happen here in the United States, here in Maryland, here in the city of Baltimore.  Where walls between black and white citizens truly do exist, even if they are not always physical in nature  And where "leaders" in both communities are, in fact satisfied with the status quo, simply because of the way in which it allows them to obtain and remain in positions of "leadership."

Baltimore became a deeply segregated city decades ago, when the then-ruling white power structure zoned the city in such a way so as to keep African-Americans together, but separated from the economic opportunities that might have changed their lives for the better.  The zoning system thus created still rules the city with a heavy economic hand, despite decades of attempts at urban renewal in the Monumental City.

A large part of that stems from the fact that much of the money has gone into maintaining the prosperity of areas that were already in relatively strong shape.  The Inner Harbor is perhaps the most obvious example of that.  But at least part of it stems from the unwillingness of African-American leaders to open up their own communities to outside development, for fear that doing so would rob them of the minimum political power that they maintain from the gerrymandering effects of zoning.

Until Baltimoreans on both sides of the color divide can reach out and see themselves as city residents first, and peoples of differing colors second, there will never be any hope for Baltimore. And, one day, there may not be a Baltimore itself.

So, if you care about the city, and perhaps about the future of the state and the nation, do yourself and all of us a favor.  Pray for this family.  Pray that there will soon be many more like them.  And pray that, together, they will dismantle Baltimore's Berlin Walls.

Selfishness Is NOT The Solution To Our Problem; It IS The Problem

This is the saddest aspect of reality in America in the early 21st century:  we can no longer agree on what reality is.

There was a time, way back in the 1970s when, despite partisan divides as bad as the current one, that such a state of affairs might be unimaginable.  Even when a President was on the political ropes thanks to a scandal of his own making. and members of Congress were divided among party lines about how to respond to the situation, a piece of reality showed up that was also of the President's making:  his tape-recorded Oval Office conversations  Once the contents of the conversations were revealed, his Congressional support all but vanished.  There was simply no way that House and Senate Republicans could deny Richard Nixon's efforts to obstruct justice when Richard Nixon admitted in his own words that he was doing so.

Unfortunately, confessions of that sort come along very rarely, just as (thankfully) politicians like Nixon come along rarely.  Or, at least, the latter used to be the case.

We now live in a world in which politicians feel free to deny the existence of the weather itself in order to protect the people who buy them their offices.  We live in a world in which the same politicians stubbornly insist that cutting taxes balances budgets and creates jobs, even when it has been shown time and again that cutting taxes merely cuts public services and swells foreign bank accounts.  And we live in a world perhaps worst of all, in which own and using a gun at will is perfectly acceptable, provided that the shooter is white and the victim is black.

How did we get here?

There are those who argue that all of us are the victim of being overwhelmed by data in a digital age. Then again, there are those who blame the problem on sheer ignorance, or stupidity.  I don't think either of these answers solves the problem.  I doubt that stupidity, as a species issue, is any greater or smaller than it has ever been.  And, even allowing for the failures of our educational system in an age of spending cuts and pedagogical ideologues, the fact is that the Internet provides enough material to counterbalance at least some of those weaknesses.  And much of that material is organized in such a way as to make it less overwhelming.  That's why aggregator Web sites have sprung up in the first place; they are the new newspapers and journals of the modern era.

So, why are we here?  Selfishness, that's why.

Some thirty-five years ago, we launched an age that essentially said good-bye to any sense of shared obligations.  It was no longer "cool" to care for others; in fact, it smacked suspiciously of Soviet-style confiscation and control.  It was not only acceptable to sacrifice the needs of others for the same of advancing even one more inch of self-interest; it was positively necessary not only for the sake of the national interest, but even to otherwise justify any standing you might have as a patriot.  We were told that this would be that path to an unimaginable era of peace and prosperity for all Americans.

Well, they were right about one thing.  The unimaginable part.

Thirty-five years later, America is crumbling.  Literally.  Its roads, tracks, bridges, tunnels, wires and drainage systems are falling apart.  Our schools, cities, and housing are beginning to tumble with them.  Most of us can no longer afford to visit a doctor or get an education, much less imagine a future in which they can pay their own bills (and never mind fulfilling any of their dreams).

But, for a tiny handful, it's not so bad.  In fact, for them, it's never been better.  The wealth they've managed to plunder from the rest of us (on the grounds that we didn't deserve it) has allowed them to create a bubble so strong and complete that it no longer depends upon the existence of this nation to maintain it.  Ours is not a tale of two cities.  It is a tale of two nations:  one living on stolen money, the other barely able to live at all.

And when a disaster comes along for the latter nation, one that is essentially predicted by science, you don't have to justify your failure to either prevent it, or even to wait a week to respond it.  Not if you have the gall to spend your time and energy describing the real solution to the problem as a tax. Just ask Larry Hogan, who doesn't give a damn about anyone except the real estate developers who helped him get elected, and who are his professional peers in the first place.

Selfishness is the reason we live in a "post-reality" society.  Selfishness, by a handful of people with no concept of "enough," is why ours is a tale of two nations.  Selfishness, to paraphrase the author of all this misery, Ronald Reagan, is not the solution to our problem; selfishness is the problem.  And, if we don't find a way to disenthrone the problem, the only reason that Americans won't be able to worry about it is because America will no longer exist.

We are closer to that point that most people realize.  Do you care?  Don't tell me.  Show me.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

It Takes A Village Of Women To Break A Glass Ceiling

It's too early to count electoral chickens but, at this point, the possibility of needing to say "Madame President" next year seems very real.  But, as Hillary Clinton would be the first to point out, this potential reality is not (or will not) be a single-handed accomplishment, should it happen.  If Secretary Clinton does end up standing in the Oval Office next January, she will be standing on the shoulders of many, many women whose talent and tenacity broke all of the glass ceilings that stood below the Presidency.

No one post could pay tribute to all of those women.  It would take more bits, bytes and bandwidth than I can count to do so.  I can easily cite any number of examples, as I'm sure you can too.  Here, courtesy (sadly) of the obituary page of the New York Times, is one important example.  Well done, Susan M. Baer.

And well done to my wife, Cynthia Rosenberg, an important example in her own way.  Whatever good exists in my life is because of her, and the qualities that enabled her to become the success that she's become.  That's her story; I'll let her tell it in her own way, on her own time.

But all of us, men and women, should be grateful for such women, as well as for the men and women who support them.

Hatred Turns The Hater Into The Object Of The Hate

I am not now, nor have I ever been, an advocate of Richard Nixon, in any sense of what that might mean.  But I am willing to concede that he was a tragic figure in one very important sense:  he learned too late a piece of wisdom that could have averted the tragedy he inflicted not only upon himself, but an entire nation as well.  He shared this wisdom in his departure speech to his White House staff, on the day that his resignation as President became effective:
... those who hate you don't win unless you hate them back.  And then, you destroy yourself.
Republicans in the current House of Representatives could take a lesson from this wisdom, perhaps before they suffer a fate similar to Nixon's.  They have attempted again and again (at your expense, taxpayers), to lay even so much as a glove on Hillary Clinton.  And failed, again and again.

Well, perhaps not completely.  As it turns out, in the course of looking for felonies committed by Secretary Clinton, it appears that House Republicans may have committed a few of their own.

Perhaps, had they spend less time (and again, less of your money) on persecuting Clinton and the rest of the Obama Administration, and more time working with them to actually do their real job, i.e., solving the nation's problems, they wouldn't be in this predicament.  For example, if they hadn't cut funds for embassy security, there would be no Benghazi tragedy to investigate in the first place.

Oh, well, probably too logical.  These are Republicans we are talking about, after all.  Which means that many of them will end up like Nixon, learning about reality far too late for it to do them any good.  Hopefully, that won't take the rest of us down with them.

Should Aid For Louisiana Be Unconditional?

Does that sound like a harsh question to you?  Perhaps it is.  Perhaps that depends upon whether, at this point, there is even a Louisiana to aid.  If you take a look at this, which includes a map of what Louisiana would look like minus the floodplain (or, to be more charitable, "wetlands"), it becomes a little bit harder to say that there is very little to aid.  Then again, as this article points out, there are those on the Republican side of the fence who wouldn't consider any aid at all, not even for a state that has gone in recent elections from being arguably "purple" to deep dark red in its voting patterns. They're happy to see it sink into the Gulf of Mexico, never to return.  (Memo for progressives, especially those who think it's safe to sit out elections:  if this is how Republicans treat their friends, wait until you see what they have in store for you.)

In fact, it is precisely because of the shift in the Pelican State's politics that I raise the question of whether aid in the wake of the most recent flooding crisis should be unconditional.  That, and the existence of the obvious culprit behind that crisis, as well as Hurricane Katrina before it.

Historically, much of Louisiana has always been swamp and marsh land, due to its position in relation to the Mississippi River and the Gulf of Mexico.  As a consequence, it has always been vulnerable to flooding during and after storms.  The state has, over centuries, learned to cope with this fact through a variety of drainage systems and, in circumstances where damage was extraordinary, been able to rely on the federal government to provide needed aid, as it does for other parts of the country in similar circumstances.

At the risk of putting a fine point on this, I'm forced to point out the obvious:  in the present age, when it comes to storms, the extraordinary has become the rule and not the exception.  And the obvious and unavoidable explanation (for those of us who like the truth untarnished by anyone's self-interest)?  Call it climate change.  Call it global warming.  But do the folks in Baton Rouge a favor and don't call it a "hoax" anymore.  It's not a hoax for them.  It's a disaster.  And there are more of them coming their way.  And ours.

And the disaster can take a variety of forms.  Droughts, that threaten to set the entire Western portion of the country on fire.  Mutating viruses, like the Zika virus, that threaten the entire Eastern seaboard. And other forms that we have not yet seen.  Or perhaps, want to imagine.

That is why, as painful as it is to think what I am about to write (much less write it), I am forced to take and advocate the following position, going forward from Louisiana's current misery:

Any state, or smaller jurisdiction, that receives federal aid on the basis of a natural disaster that can be scientifically linked to climate change must, within 90 days of said disaster, submit to federal authorities a comprehensive plan, including legislative and regulatory changes, that will significantly reduce the impact of climate change on their state, including the likelihood and severity of a similar disaster.  Should they fail to do so, or fail to enact a proposed plan, any aid for a future disaster should be considered a loan, which must be repaid, addressed through a forfeiture proceeding, or subject to other statutorily enumerated conditions.

Sound harsh?  Such are the consequences of pretending that partisan politics can make science go away.  It can't.  I don't care if climate change is ultimately solved by Democrats, Republicans, Libertarians, Greens, Know-Nothings, Whigs or whomever.  I care about it being solved.

Because it's real.  Ask the folks in Baton Rouge.  Ask your grandchildren or great-grandchildren, if you can find a way to time-travel to the version of the future in which you did nothing.  They'll want to know why you did nothing.

And G-d help you if you don't have good answers.  I won't.  And neither will they.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

A Few Words Of Political Advice For Millennials

I've said what I'm going to say here before, but I'll say it again, since it bears repeating.  Especially after I read an article like this one, and believe me, I've read plenty of them.

OK, millennials.  You don't like Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump.  Well, I'm not a millennial.  I'm a Boomer.  My generation was and is, deservedly, famous for being the then-most demanding generation when it comes to EVERYTHING in life, including politics.  We didn't like our choices any more than you like yours.  My first Presidential campaign (technically, the second one I worked in, but the first one I followed from start to finish) was in 1972.  McGovern versus Nixon.  People back then felt the same way about those candidates that you feel now about yours.  I remember my high school newspaper printing a cartoon showing both candidates saying to each other "You stink!"  That was 44 years ago.  Somehow, we made it through Nixon, Watergate, Reagan, Iran-Contra, Bush, Gulf War I, Bush II, 9/11 and Gulf War II, and got to where we are today.  Where we're lucky enough to have all of you as our children and grandchildren.

So you and the country will survive this election.  That's the first piece of good news.  The second is this:  we made our country a better one by getting involved in the political process, whatever our other faults may be.  And now, it's your turn to return the favor.

Keep on doing what you did with Obama in 2008 and 2012, and did with Sanders this year.  And keep on doing it, despite the setbacks and disappointments.  It's the only way anything ever gets better. And it's the only way anything will get better.

Believe me, everybody noticed you this year.  The political establishment noticed you.  Bernie Sanders clearly noticed you, and he clearly hasn't given up on your potential, and neither have the candidates who have followed his lead.  You should keep on following it.  Yes, all the way into the mouth of the beast itself.  It's always been, and still is, the only way the beast is going to get any tamer, and starts responding to you instead of working against you.

The Other 1%

It's become fashionable to use the phrase "the 1%," and variations thereof, in discussions about income inequality.  And it makes sense; by one estimate, the financial assets of the top 1% have nearly doubled in the past 40 years.  In the process, the finances of the entire nation have been effectively immobilized by people who would rather hoard money than invest or spend it.

But there's another 1% we need to worry about, especially given the power of the financial 1%.  We can perhaps refer to it as the cyber-1%; the folks whose knowledge of the Internet gives them the power to use it for their own political ends.

I'm not talking about politicians like Howard Dean, Barack Obama, and Bernie Sanders, who have learned how to use the Web as a supplementary tool to organize otherwise conventional political campaigns.  I'm talking about groups like Anonymous and WikiLeaks, who have shown themselves capable of tearing down the few walls of privacy the Internet permits for their own unilateral ends.

You may sometimes like the results.  You may, in the case of Hillary Clinton and Congressional Democrats, may not.  But you cannot argue with this:  their technical sophistication makes them, in many ways, even harder to successfully oppose them if it is your wish to do so.  And they possess the ultimate resource:  knowledge.  If we look at the tools of political power--votes, money, and knowledge--as a kind of rock-paper-scissors triad--knowledge is the ultimate winner.  Knowledge can outwit both money and votes.

Which is why it matters who has the knowledge, and how it is used.  In the case of someone like Julian Assange, knowledge is not necessarily something that will be used in our best interests.  It's time to wake up to that fact, and find ways to fight back against the other 1%

No, Clint Eastwood, YOU'RE The One Who Needs To "Get Over It."

I couldn't help reading Clint Eastwood's recent pro-Donald Trump diatribe, in which he lectured the victims of political incorrectness, to "get over it," without flashing back in my mind to a different period in Eastwood's life and career.  One in which he expressed profoundly different sentiments.

While Eastwood has always been right of center, although a libertarian more than anything else, he was at one point a very strong advocate for greater participation by African-Americans in the film industry.  And his advocacy wasn't just rhetoric; he put meat on the bones of his words in his hiring practices on his film projects, including one project that celebrated the life of a major African-American artist, Charlie Parker ("Bird").  The NACCP honored Eastwood in 1989 with a special Image Award for his efforts and, in accepting it, he expressed his hope that, one day, the Image Awards would be "obsolete," because it would be "commonplace in the motion picture industry and other industries to never use minorities in stereotypical fashion, and to branch out."  You can read more about this here.

So, what happened?

I don't think Eastwood's earlier advocacy was insincere.  Whatever else I can say about him, I don't think insincerity is one of his liabilities.  And, in more recent years, he's added to his past words of tolerance by extending them to those who support marriage eqaulity.  And his praise for Trump was hardly unadulterated; he critized Putin's poodle for his comments about the "Mexican" judge he might be facing.

No, Eastwood's comments seemed to be less an endorsement of Trump and more of a screed against "political correctness," or what Eastwood sees as "political correctness."

But why is political correctness a bad thing?  What others call political correctness is simply good manners, with the goal of not offening people for aspects of their lives beyond their control.  And let's be real  there was a time in our history in which a different sort of political correctness ruled the land, one in which the stereotyping Eastwood mentioned in 1989 at the Image Awards was an accepted part of our national culture.  This does not constitute an endorsement on my part of every scenario in which someone claims offense.  But, even in those cases, it's still worth having the discussion, if only becuase it ultimately leads to a better understanding of one another, and to a more perfect union. (And, if this is a democracy, we need to talk to each other more often in any case).

If, as a comedian, you're going to offend someone, do it the way Groucho Marx did it; be offensive about what people say and do, not about who they are.  That takes a little more intelligence and effort, but it's why people still laugh at Groucho, long after they've forgotten the children's books of the early 20th century with their stereotypical black and Jewish characters.

I'd like to think that Clint made his comments when he was having a bad day.  Maybe, however, part of where he was coming from was being in a world in which white male power is, in fact, becoming obsolete.  Maybe seeing that is harder for him than he could have imagined back in 1989.  Clearly, for most of Trump's supporters, that seems to be the case.  I've always liked Eastwood, even when I have disagreed with his politics.  I would hate to see him descent to the level of racial animosity that can be found at any of The Donald's rallies.

Perhaps this really is a job for Meryl Streep, after all.  Give it a try, Meryl; I'll be rooting for you.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

At The End Of The Anti-Government Road Lies Bigotry--And Death

And there's something else that I've said for years about conservatives:  that their anti-government rhetoric is merely a proxy for their bigotry.

In theory, there is no more basic government responsibility than public safety.  And public safety requires not just a commitment to maintaining military forces, but also a commitment to protecting the public health of the nation as well.  There was a time in the not-too-distant past when liberals and conservatives could come together on this, without hesitation or partisan division.

Unfortunately, we no longer live in that time.  Now we have a Congress led by Republicans, that wants to use the deadly threat of the Zika virus to promote the flag of a vanquished, racist nation. Without regard to the ugly history of that nation.  And without regard to any lives that may be lost as a consequence of that promotion.

And people wonder why, despite the President's popularity, a majority of the people think that the country is on the wrong track?

Look at it this way.

The Republicans not only control Congress, but also a majority of governorships and state legislatures, as well as half of the current, down-to-eight-Justices Supreme Court.  And, thanks to Mitch McConnell, they are willing to suspend Constitutional government in order to ensure their control of the judiciary.  In the words of a currently-popular Internet meme, if you don't like the direction of the country, look at whose hands are all over the steering wheel.

Can anyone honestly doubt that the Republican Party cares about nothing but short-term power? Believe me, if they aren't removed from that position of power, the short term may be the only term any of us have.

Thank You, Jennifer Rubin

Thank you, that is, for once again proving that a conservative is someone who just hasn't caught up to the liberals yet.

More specifically, I'm referring to this column by Ms. Rubin.

Along with a lot of other media observers, I've been saying for years that decades of bullying by conservatives against the so-called "liberal press" (most of which was owned by conservatives) has turned the former Fourth Estate into a timid shadow of its former self, constantly manufacturing false equivalencies for the sake of trying to get the bullies off of its back.  And, in the process, only encouraging the bullies to bully harder--by manufacturing their own media outlets that have no interests in equivalencies at all.  Only in propaganda.

And, in the process by which all of the foregoing has unfolded, something very important was lost. We used to refer to it as "the truth."  Something which does not have a left-wing or right-wing bias, but something that cannot be escaped.  Not by denial, not by false equivalencies, not by propaganda, and no, not even by bullying.  The truth simply doesn't care.  It simply exists.  And you let your biases, right or left, ignore it at your peril.

Jennifer Rubin concedes this, more or less, but doesn't seem to have a clue as to what to do about it.

I have a suggestion.  One that we can all embrace.

Let's all agree that there are two things more important that being a conservative or a liberal.  One is being an American.  And, beyond that, being a member of the human race.

If we can focus on both of those things, maybe, just maybe, we can all find a way to stumble back to the truth.

Monday, August 8, 2016

My Major Objection To Third Parties

As I'm sure all of you know by now, we are in a Presidential election cycle in which the majority of the American people are less than inspired by the Presidential alternatives offered by the two major political parties.  One of those candidates seems to have a support ceiling under the 50% threshold, while the other is falling toward a support sub-cellar that may not even be visible yet.  Time will tell, of course, whether Hillary can convince a majority of us to be "with her," and/or whether Trump will be able to make his campaign as great as he allegedly wants to make the country.

In the meantime, 20% or more of the voters are looking at alternatives.  Perhaps not surprisingly, there are two that have enough support to show up in national polls:  Jill Stein, the nominee of the Green Party, and Gary Johnson, the nominee of the Libertarian Party.  Ms. Stein is running as the default alternative for Berniecrats and other progressives who don't trust Hillary to expend any real effort to advance a progressive agenda.  And Mr. Johnson?  Well, as a political philosophy, libertarianism tends to span the traditional ideological divide in politics.  They're conservatives on taxes, welfare and government spending generally, and liberal on abortion, civil rights generally, and the environment.

The presence of one very left third-party candidate, and a third-party candidate who appeals to voters on the left and right, seems to suggest that the challenge of attracting supporters may be greater for Hillary than it will be for Trump.  Given the fact that Hillary is leading Trump by an average of 8% in the polls, she seems to be meeting that challenge.  Thus, for the moment, I'm not looking at either Stein or Johnson as a "spoiler," a la Nader; if things change, of course, I'm prepared to take a different view of them.

But even if they are not spoilers, I have a very strong objection to these third parties and their candidacies:  why do you only show up in Presidential election years?  Is it because you're just trying to live off of free media attention given to the presidential race generally?  Or is it from a naive worship of the Presidency as the one office in this country that has the power to change everything?

I pose those questions only because those, to me, are the only two logical alternative possibilities. I don't believe that either the Greens or the Libertarians fail to understand the way in which power is divided in a federal system.  But that means that, as political organizations advancing candidates and policies, both parties are unforgivably lazy.  And that's a shame, because I think that both parties have ideas worth advancing, and worth greater political support than they are now getting, such as alternative resources and concerns about law-enforcement policies.

Bringing ideas to the forefront of a campaign is the only way to prevent it from becoming a contest of personalities.  Unfortunately, in an "either-or" contest, it becomes incredibly easy for the major parties to become lazy and to turn the focus of voter attention to personalities.  That didn't happen in the 1992 Presidential election, which inspired record voter turnout and led to a debate about the federal deficit that actually led to action on the deficit--by an Administration and a Congress controlled by the party falsely responsible for running up the national debt.

But that only happened because of the presence of a third-party candidate, Ross Perot, who had the means and the will to organize and operate a truly national campaign.  Perot was and is a billionaire, and one who made his fortune largely off of government largess.  It was easy for him to put a campaign together almost overnight.  And he was his crusade's only candidate; his Reform Party offered no one for Congressional or state government seats.  Still, for a time, he made a real difference.

And that's the kind of difference any serious third party should be trying to make.  It should not try to just show up for Presidential races and somehow hope that lighting will strike.  It should be serious about raising money and backing candidates in every single election year, to make sure that its voice is heard on a regular basis, and to make sure that it can obtain power in other parts of our Federal system.  Imagine, for example, what a single Green Party Senator who was serious about the Green Party's platform could do, under current Senate rules.  For that matter, you don't have to imagine it; you already have the equivalent of it in the form of Bernie Sanders.  For crying out loud, give the guy some helpers, so that he doesn't have to go it alone in the Senate.  Or, for that matter, imagine what a single Green Governor could do; he or she could, under the ACA, put a single-payer health care system into place.

If the Greens and Libertarians committed, beginning with the 2018 election cycle, to operating in this fashion, I can absolutely guarantee you that it would not belong before you had a political climate that had more than two voices.  You would have as many as four, and possibly more.  And, in that scenario, you would have a clearer focus on ideas--because ideas would become the glue by which coalitions are built and elections are won.  Coalition-forming, historically, is how progressive ideas have been advanced in this country; for that matter, it's how political parties are formed in the first place.

But things are never going to get better unless third parties in this country buckle down, work hard and fundraising and recruitment, and otherwise resist the easy lure of free media in presidential years. Governments in this country are formed, and re-formed, every two years, not every four. America's third parties need to wake up, accept that fact, and act on it.  America's future may depend on their doing so.