Friday, September 30, 2016

The Two-Party System Does Not Exist

If one wants to consider the U.S. a democracy, they'll first need to significantly lower their standards for what the word means. It's been confirmed that the actions of government officials and other elites are highly inconsistent with the wishes of the citizenry, and given the state of the electoral system that brought them there, this isn't at all surprising; from widespread gerrymandering to the Electoral College to the corporatized campaign finance system, the electoral process has been fundamentally subverted to favor the candidates of the people who run it. This applies to America's voting system as well, which has been found to be the most unfair of any other democracy in the world. The consequences of this have lately been felt most dramatically in elections like the Florida Congressional primary between Tim Canova and Debbie Wasserman Schultz, or the 2016 Democratic presidential primary between Bernie Sanders and Hillary Clinton.

But the problem goes deeper than all of this.

It feels trite to include a quote from a founding father to prove my point, but this 1780 statement from John Adams is the perfect summation of one of the biggest flaws in our electoral process:
"There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution."
And thankfully for Adams, such a scenario never appeared in his lifetime. But had he lived two more years to see the election of 1828, he would have been in for an unpleasant twist. After decades of the United States' party system functioning just as Adams preferred, with little tendency towards the country's many parties coalescing into just two, everything changed.

After the contested election of 1824, in which Andrew Jackson lost the presidency despite having won the popular vote, the members of Jackson's Democratic Party spent the next four years feeling rightfully resentful towards the candidate that had beat him (who, I think it's worth emphasizing, was Adams' son John Quincy Adams). By the time Jackson was nominated again four years later, the anger on the Democratic side had firmly united the party in opposition towards their opponent, which naturally instigated political polarization. After a fittingly intense and dirty campaign, Jackson had, in the process of reclaiming the presidency, created a political environment that was dominated far more than ever by two parties-the Democrats and the Whigs (the latter of which would afterwards evolve into Republicans). During the following election cycles, the political duopoly continued to solidify itself, beating down all competitors from other parties and turning America into just what John Adams had feared the most. The irony is that Adams' son is the one who shares much of the blame for this.

And the rest, as they say, is history that we quietly regret having let happened. None of the efforts to return the American party system to its pre-Adams vs Jackson state have gained enough support to be successful, and the consequences of the public's failure to get behind them have turned out to be just as disastrous as Adams foresaw.

For a long time, it seemed as if there was little reason to eliminate the two-party system. Over the generations, the major parties changed their agendas to accommodate the wishes of their supporters, which, aside from instances like the Progressive Party's challenging the Republicans in 1912 or the Dixiecrat's breaking from the Democrats in 1948, kept it so that they both largely represented the interests of their base and thus provided the public with no immediate reason to overthrow them. But during the late 20th century, the fear implied in Adams' sentiment of two parties abusing their power began to come true. With the help of a series of cultural factors that were introduced through the neoliberal policies of the Reagan/Bush years, Democrats, the party formerly depended upon for keeping corporate rule at bay, were transformed it into an institution that was more or less as oriented towards serving the one percent as Republicans were.

That was when the cost of two-party politics truly began to be felt; confident in their position as members of one of the two ruling parties, the Democratic elite continued to wreak havoc over the middle-class and the poor despite their base wanting the opposite. They've since consolidated the news industry, deregulated Wall Street, passed free trade deals, instigated military conflicts, and helped turn the banking industry into a ticking economic time bomb, and yet they've still enjoyed the support to keep them a major political party. This, along with the similar actions that Republicans have taken, has resulted in all of the problems that are threatening to create a decline of the United States and perhaps tear apart civilization itself, such as escalated wars, record income inequality, and climate change.

And if America's two-party system is not undone soon, those aren't the only threats that will continue to get worse. As we've seen all-too-clearly this year, the neoliberal paradigm that this party model has created is giving way to the dark, counterproductive form of populism which is Trumpism, and unless a socially democratic antidote for it is introduced-something which the Democrats are in no position to be the party which does so-politics will soon become dominated by Trumpism. The consequence of this, as Arthur Goldhammer summarizes, is ironically an extension of those divisive, polarizing forces which spawned the two-party system in 1828: "If they [the Trumpists] succeed in their attempt to drive a wedge between us and them, we can expect the polarization of today’s politics to devolve into something far worse than mere gridlock, something resembling tribal warfare."

But there's just one obstacle for this descent into the political black lagoon: the two-party system does not exist.

Or at least it doesn't exist in a healthy democracy. In an undeniable contradiction to the popular myth among American political scientists that the two-party system is an inevitable phenomenon in every democratic system, virtually every other democracy on the planet has a multiparty system like the one of the U.S. before 1828. For example, though all of the UK prime ministers in recent memory have been members of either the Labour Party or the Conservative Party, 16 parties have representation in its parliament. That number for Germany is 14, 5 is the case for Canada, Australia's amount is 7, and so on and so on. This gives the voters of those countries far more freedom than Americans have, in that they can find parties which reflect their ideals without tied down to two ideologically narrow options which actively try to crush dissent.

And it's not a pleasant fantasy to think that this can change for America in the near future. In time for the next election, millennials, a group that can be relied upon for thinking outside of the political box, will make up 40% of the electorate. As a result of the wealth gap, a populist revolt is certain to emerge in the coming years which could easily have a radical effect on electoral politics. These factors, along with the political realignment that's already been building up for many years, serve as compelling evidence that the ancient, archaic American party system could be disrupted in the next one or two election cycles. And this upset might not just take place in the form of the leftist third-party counter that I'll be on the side of; an ideological split is occurring on the right as much as the left, which has caused the author Jeffrey Sachs to believe that "By 2020, it is quite possible that we will actually have four major political parties: a social democratic left, a centrist party, a right-wing conservative party and a populist anti-immigrant party (represented by Trump followers)."

In short, America's party system should not-and soon might not-have to be this way. The two-party reality that we (and our grandparents' grandparents) have known all our lives is not the result of some kind of inescapable law of politics, but of a bitter dispute between two men in 1828. If we can break out of this matrix in time for the great showdown in 2020, we'll be able to reclaim both our democracy and our hopes for sustaining the society which supports it.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Jill Stein Wins First Debate

I've heard that a thousand years is but a blink of an eye in the mind of The Lord. But for most Americans, 160 years is far too long a time since their country's electoral system last saw meaningful reform.

And once again, it looks like they'll have to wait before they see it again. The Green Party's Jill Stein and her fellow third party candidate Gary Johnson are unable to qualify for access in the presidential debates, leaving the partisan duopoly alive and well for this election cycle. When the first debate takes place tomorrow, all that most Americans will see is a performance between an even more unlikable version than usual of the two figureheads of the corporate state that the dominant parties produce every four years, wherein each of them are hypocritically playing off of the other's flaws in what James Kunstler describes as "a Punch and Judy show."

What won't be mentioned during this affair is that most of the audience sees it for what it is-a puppet show-and soon they'll be asking to watch something different.

To give comfort to those among the record number of people that will be watching these sad spectacles who aren't satisfied with the choices presented to them, I've put together an analysis of why the debates were not arranged fairly, why the parties that run them hold little power over the future of electoral politics, and why, whether Jill Stein attends them or not, she will be the winner of this and the other debates.

The first one on the list may be the most important to establish.

Third party candidates should have been able to attend the debates

Aside from the fact that giving all of the major candidates a fair opportunity to contribute their views is simply good for democracy, Stein and Johnson should have been allowed to attend because contrary to what CNN will tell you, they've earned their right to do so.

As of the 2000 election cycle, the Commission on Presidential Debates-a private organization run entirely by Republicans and Democrats which, since 1987, has controlled how the debates are run-has ruled that a candidate must poll at around 15% or more to get on the debate stage. It sounds like a reasonable enough requirement, but a deeper look into the dynamics of presidential politics reveals it to be unfair towards outsiders. An Ipsos Public Affairs Report has found that for a candidate to gain that much support-especially when they aren't running on the ticket of one of the two major parties-they would need to spend around $250,000,000. Ross Perot, who's independent 1992 campaign spent the equivalent of less than half of that, was able to get into the debates while polling at 9%.

What's most troubling about how the CPD has run this process, though, is not that it's used an unreasonable rule, but that it's actually worked around that rule to further tip the playing field.

An investigation by the writer John Laurits has found that the CPD's vetting process for the candidates, in addition to involving that 15% rule, has clearly seen a large degree of bias. So begins Laurits in his explanation of why there's something deeply suspicious about how the CPD has run the debates this year:
The problem is that the CPD gets to handpick the 5 polls that are used to determine whether 15% of voters support them or not. Now, a reasonable person might assume that they’d pick transparent, unbiased organizations to conduct high-quality polls, especially since they’re a non-profit raking in millions from undisclosed donors to do this exact thing. Instead, they chose the #!@%ing corporate-media. Yes, the 5 polls are conducted by the same jerks who gave Donald Trump about $2 Billion dollars in free media attention — ABC-Washington Post, CBS-New York Times, CNN-Opinion Research Corporation, Fox News, & NBC-Wall Street Journal, all of which contain at least one of Hillary Clinton’s major campaign-donors. Which doesn’t sound corrupt at all.
These five polls, Laurits discovered after looking into them, have all been conducted in a way that seriously calls their reliability into question, from the Fox News poll having underrepresented independents to the CNN-ORC poll's having done the same with independents. The other three polls that the CPD used, though lacking transparency, seem to include similar problems.

The result, of course, is a successful effort on the CPD's part to downplay how much support Stein and Johnson really have. I am not saying that they both secretly have above 15% of the support, as that would (unfortunately) be wishful thinking, but they do have more than most people think. Thanks to the five polls mentioned, the Real Clear Politics average puts Jill Stein at 2.8% and Gary Johnson at 8.5%, but a more reliable McClatchy/Marist poll puts Stein at 4% and Johnson at 10%. That's enough to qualify them for the debates under more reasonable circumstances, as well to put them within striking distance of the 5% of the popular vote they'll need to win this year so that their parties can qualify for federal campaign funds in 2020.

And though Johnson, the Liberitarian, is admittedly more likely to accomplish the latter than Stein, she's already winning the race in a different sense.

The Green Party's agenda is backed by the majority of Americans

As these efforts to shut out Stein and Johnson were being coordinated behind closed doors, I assume that the CPD's main reason for excluding the latter candidate mainly had to do with him being a threat the traditional party model. Because ideologically, Johnson and his party are perhaps even more corporatist than both Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump (though I do admire Johnson for being more honest than Clinton, since unlike her he openly admits supporting the Trans-Pacific Partnership and Citizens United).

As you can see, that fact hasn't stopped him from winning against the vastly more progressive Stein, even with young people. But don't take this as a sign that Johnson's agenda itself has more support; his advantage can mainly be explained by the media's blackout and smear campaign against Stein, along with the fact that Johnson's campaign has been able to outspend Stein's by taking money from big donors.

In reality, support for the Green's self-described eco-socialist agenda is very strong, especially with millennials. To prove it, I've created a list that compares the major issues included in the Green Party's platform to the situation of American public opinion.
  • A living wage. 78% of Americans support raising the minimum wage, though only 48% favor an increase to $15.
  • A universal right to social security. 85% of Americans think that social security is important to ensure that retirees can be financially secure, and 81% don't mind paying social security taxes if they know that it will help those who need the program.
  • A universal right to education. 62% of Americans want college to be tuition free, and 48% would be willing to pay higher taxes to make it so.
  • A universal right to health care. 58% of Americans would prefer a single-payer, universal health care system over Obamacare, including 41% of Republicans.
  • Switch to renewable energy. 73% of Americans favor wind and solar power over oil and coal, with 67% willing to pay higher taxes in order to help the transition.
  • Environmental justice. 56% of Americans think that the environment should be prioritized more than the economy, and 59% think stricter environmental regulations are worth the cost. 
  • Sustainable agriculture. 92% of Americans think that sustainable farming practices are at least somewhat important, though only 52% avoid buying genetically modified foods and 52% prefer organic food.
  • Democratize business. 83% of Americans think that the top one percent have influenced the economy to their advantage, 70% think that free trade deals like the TPP should not be allowed because they hurt American workers, and 70% think it's very important to regulate business.
  • Democratize banking. 58% of Americans are in favor of breaking up the large financial institutions, with 61% having opposed the Wall Street bailouts in 2008 (both of which, if I may editorialize, they are absolutely right about).
  • Progressive taxation. 61% of Americans think the wealthy pay too little in taxes, and 52% think the government should redistribute the wealth by taxing the rich.
  • End corporate welfare. Though little polling data exists on this issue, a survey from 2011 found that only 29% of voters support corporate welfare.
  • End America's perpetual wars. 78% of Americans have an unfavorable view of the War in Afghanistan, 59% think that the War in Iraq was a mistake, and 76% are against sending conventional ground troops to fight ISIS.
And predictably, on virtually every other issue, from ending the War on Drugs to affordable housing access to the elimination of nuclear arms, Americans side with the Greens. The problem, of course, is that the American party system doesn't allow for the views of the majority to be represented.

But not for much longer.

The future belongs to the Green Party

Given all the facts mentioned so far, we can say that Jill Stein and her party have won the moral debate, and that they're the rightful winners of this election. And since third parties have been left out of the political process for a long time, and the views of most Americans have aligned with the Greens for roughly just as long, we've been able to say the same during all the election cycles in recent memory. But none of that has been able to change the fact that the Green Party continues to mostly lose the electoral battle.

However, as you may be able to guess from this site's title, I believe that the wind will be at the Green's backs in future elections. As I made the case for in a past article, through a number of factors (most of which have to do with Clinton and Trump), by the time the next national survey of party affiliation is taken next year political independents will outnumber Democrats and Republicans combined. This possibility is further strengthened by a July poll that found 55% of Americans want a third party. That's significant because at the beginning of the year, 55% identified as either Democrats or Republicans.

Add that to the fact that such a trend is certain to continue, that the American progressive movement is continuing to gain strength, how the problematic health care system that the two parties have produced will drive more people to look for a better option as their insurance costs rise in the coming years, and how the historic wealth gap is bound to lead to a populist uprising, it's very much reasonable to expect the rise of far-left third party in 2018, 2020, and beyond. In order to help make this happen, I recommend you vote for Jill Stein this November (as long as you're in a non-swing state, at least), and support the down-ticket Greens who are also running this year.

If this sounds like wishful thinking, don't just take my word for it. Take the word of Robert Reich, the respected economist and former Washington insider who predicts that the Greens (or at least a different party with the Green's agenda) will "prevail in 2020." Or Jerry Kremer, the journalist who wrote an op-ed that stated "It is possible that if both parties can’t find a more meaningful message by 2020, an independent candidate will emerge who will take away voters from both parties and win the White House." Or Nick Gillespie and Matt Welch, who wrote an article in the Wall Street Journal all the way back in 2011 that predicted the "Death of the Duopoly" in terms of American two-party politics.

I could list dozens of other examples wherein mainstream, credible political observers have looked at the same factors that I mentioned and predicted the collapse of the traditional party model. An internet search for "death of the two-party system" yields numerous articles that back up what I've been saying. Though we all of course tend to interpret things through our own ideological lenses (some of these writers have claimed that the newly prominent third party will be centrist or even conservative rather than leftist), everyone who has taken a good look at the state of American politics have come to the conclusion that the current party system is not sustainable.

I know, this is all stirring stuff. But as we've seen during every other time the masses have tried to take over the political system during times of control by the elites, it would be naive to assume such an upheaval is guaranteed to materialize. Something radical might need to happen before the electorate becomes jolted out of its usual apathy and fights for a Green victory.

The good news is, the exact kind of event that could have such an effect is coming our way.

Well, to be more honest, it won't feel like very good news when you first hear it. I am speaking of a catastrophic financial crisis, fueled by a dept-based global economy that's made dangerously unstable by stock market bubbles, excessive monetary power for the world's central banks, and a banking industry that's rendered unregulatable by a failure on the government's part to break it up, which will wreak havoc over the unsustainable economic model that the two Wall Street-funded, neoliberal parties have produced. And when this crash hits, the supporters of status quo politicians will be faced with their moment of reckoning.

It's impossible to say when exactly this collapse will occur. It could easily happen sometime this year with one of the market disruptions that are expected in the next few months-the Federal Reserve raising interest rates in December, the fast-approaching rise in oil prices-but given how the stock market is in such a similar position to how it was right before the last economic crash, along with the other factors I mentioned, we can say that this crisis is imminent.

To tie this all together, I'll offer you another quote from that jaded political commentator James Kunstler: "In history, elites commonly fail spectacularly. Ask yourself: how could these two ancient institutions, the Democratic and Republican parties, cough up such human hairballs [Clinton and Trump]? And having done so, do they deserve to continue to exist? And if they go up in a vapor, along with the public’s incomes and savings, what happens next?"

It all depends on what you want to happen. But in the meantime, rest assured, Jill Stein is the true winner of this debate.

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

The Fascism Of The Democratic Party

Now that I've drawn you in with that headline, I'd like to be clear that I'm choosing to describe the Democratic Party in such a way out of complete seriousness.

The type of fascism I'm going to be analyzing, though, is not the classic brand of dictatorial nationalism utilized by the likes of Donald Trump, as that would indeed be hyperbole. The fascist governing model that I'm going to discuss, which I think every self-identified Democrat should be aware of, involves not reactionary demagoguery but something called "inverted totalitarianism."

Before I explain what that is, let's take a look at the current state of America. Since 1978, income inequality in the U.S. has been steadily increasing. During that year, the top 0.1% of the population owned a mere 7% of the nation's new income, and today that number is 22%. As a result, half of the American population is under the poverty line, nine to twelve percent of Americans are unemployed, and nearly half of Americans are living on some kind of government assistance. 

The factors that caused this are no accident. During the past forty years, free trade deals, upper-income tax cuts, and business deregulation have worked to redistribute a possibly unprecedented amount of wealth towards the top. The same is true for the unstable geopolitical situation in the middle east, and the staggering amounts of resources that the U.S. military uses to try to control it; the government itself has brought about these affairs, all in order to serve its governing partners in big oil and the weapons industry. The collusion between corporation and state is behind most of the other problems our country is facing, from climate change to the health care crisis to, naturally, the dismantling of American democracy itself.

Though some have differing views on the exact cause of this crisis for liberty in America, pretty much everyone is aware of it. 71% of Americans feel the economy is not working fairly for them, just 19% think they can trust their government all or most of the time, and 65% believe the country is on the wrong track.

And yet, even as the overwhelming majority of Americans recognize corporate power to be the cause of their problems, Democrats, the party which always tries to represent itself as the solution to the issues mentioned above, are failing to sufficiently address them.

They used to be such an institution, but after the reformation of it that occurred during the 1980's and 90's, as Robert Dreyfuss explained in 2001, "Today is not your father's Democratic Party." In spite of recent victories for genuinely populist Democrats who seek to move it back to its roots, the party is deeply corrupted by corporate interests. This is a party who's top contributors in recent years have included Koch Industries, Goldman Sachs, Bain Capital, and other major entities that are known for typically backing Republicans. This is a party which has gone so far to the right that it's actually trying to reach out to Republican leaders and voters. This is a party who's top officials actively worked this year to undemocratically nominate Hillary Clinton-someone who's foreign policy approach may be more hawkish than that of many Republicans, who's record on trade consistently contradicts the promises she's made to protect workers, and who's ties to Wall Street do the same.

The problem, though, is not that the Democratic Party is corrupt. It's that its base doesn't care.

As I discussed in my previous article, thanks to the increased corporate control over the media and the educational system that occurred during the 1980's, most young people, progressives, and independents became disengaged with the political process, which allowed the appalling neoliberalism of the Clintons and their changed Democratic Party to go largely unscrutinized by the populous. What I didn't mention was that such a political dynamic has a name which you may be able to guess: inverted totalitarianism.

This term, coined by the political theorist Sheldon Wolin, is meant to describe an oligarchical system wherein the citizenry, kept relatively unexposed to the source of their oppression, believe to be living in a democracy. I'm sure it comes as no surprise for you when I conclude that America is such a society. Indeed, as Chris Hedges assesses in his essay on Wolin's worldview, "Inverted totalitarianism is different from classical forms of totalitarianism. It does not find its expression in a demagogue or charismatic leader but in the faceless anonymity of the corporate state. Our inverted totalitarianism pays outward fealty to the facade of electoral politics, the Constitution, civil liberties, freedom of the press, the independence of the judiciary, and the iconography, traditions and language of American patriotism, but it has effectively seized all of the mechanisms of power to render the citizen impotent."

The Democratic Party perfectly fits this model. Though given the events of this year's Democratic primaries, the apathy among the electorate that we saw in the 90's has largely disappeared, the Democratic leadership continues to use inverted totalitarianism as a way to hold onto support. It's become clear in recent years that Democratic voters are more progressive than ever, with the majority of them identifying as liberal rather than the once-popular "moderate." Additionally, 60% of them want to break up the large financial institutions, over 75% want a single-payer health care system, and 86% think that the wealth should be more equally distributed. These and other statistics serve as proof that the Democratic electorate overwhelmingly desires to end corporate rule. And yet, because of the subtle propaganda that inverted totalitarianism employs, they continue to prop up an entity whose goals are essentially opposite to theirs.

In other words, Democrats are being asked to pledge allegiance to a system which works against their interests, which is a clear (if not, as I said, classical) sign of fascism.

And if this continues, the nation will pay an ironic price: the implementation of the other type of fascism.

The embodiment of Democratic fascism Hillary Clinton, in spite of experiencing a setback in the polls in recent weeks, has begun to regain her edge over Trump according to the latest poll. But even if she manages to win this year against the current manifestation of the neo-fascist movement that her neoliberal policies have created, she'll only be facing a new version of Trump in four years. Either way, as the pivotal 2020 election approaches, Americans will be faced with the challenge of defeating a very dangerous politician who uses the degenerate populism of the far-right to their advantage. And given how the Democratic Party will be greatly diminished by then, along with how it will be unable to energize its former base, the incumbent President Clinton or whichever other Democrat running in 2020 will be no match for this candidate.

Fascism cannot win against fascism. Evil cannot beat evil. We must build a genuinely progressive alternative to the Democrats before the next election cycle, or inverted totalitarianism will give way to something even worse.

Sunday, September 18, 2016

The Cultural Dynamics Behind The Rise Of Clintonism

I have news for the forces of greed and the defenders of the status quo: your time has come and gone.

Those are the words of Bill Clinton as he was accepting the Democratic nomination in 1992.

I think I've said enough in past articles about why that statement of his was false. For the sake of my audience, who mostly know why as well, I won't reiterate in detail the fundamental corruption of the Clintons, the numerous ways that they and others like them have changed the Democratic Party for the worse, and the consequences that that has had for the country (though if you don't know what I mean, you can read about it here). I'm instead going to focus on why the American people have allowed the Clintons and Clintonism to come-and stay-in power.

To fully articulate the following study, though, I should give some context: after making that promise, Clinton, along with the other neoliberals now in control of the Democratic Party, did exactly the opposite, enacting NAFTA, consolidating media companies, killing welfare, incarcerating more racial minorities, outlawing gay marriage, and, perhaps most consequentially, deregulating Wall Street. And yet the Democratic base, despite largely disagreeing with these policies, remained (mostly) loyal to their party, with Clinton having an approval rating of 66% at the end of his term and Democrats being the most popular party at that time.

With all due respect for those who were among that crowd of loyal Democrats, why did so many Americans continue to support status-quo politics? Why didn't more people see through Al Gore's claim of being a populist improvement of his predecessor during the 2000 campaign and turn Ralph Nader into a serious competitor? Why did liberals become as indifferent towards the injustices that their leaders were responsible for as conservatives are about theirs?

The answer is more ominous than you would guess.

In my previous article, I concluded that the cause of the Democrat's shift towards the interests of the elite was the result of the conservative trend in public opinion left over from the Reagan/Bush years. Although the legacy of that era indeed had an influence on Democratic strategists' decision to move to the right, since the late 90's the public has returned to a firmly liberal state. The real question is why the left, despite being so out of step with the Democratic Party since then, has remained subservient to it. To find that out, we'll need to take a look at how America itself has changed between now and the time when Democrats represented the people.

The period I'm speaking of, which can be loosely defined as lasting from the end of World War II to the start of the Reagan era, was a relatively high point in American history. This was when scientific, technological, and social progress was at its highest rate ever, voter participation levels typically reached above 60% (more than the turnout of the 2008 election), and the Democratic Party, perhaps not coincidentally, was an institution that harbored democratic socialism.

You know what happened next, though. After income inequality reached its lowest point in modern history, with the top 0.1% wealthiest citizens owning a mere 7% of the country's money in the year 1978, the gap began to steadily increase. With the rise of Ronald Reagan (who's campaign poetically began the year after 1978), this and other negative trends became greatly escalated. In 1983, when the top 0.1% owned 9% of the wealth, the number of corporations that controlled a majority of U.S. media was 50. By 1992, that number was 14.

The neoliberal model of government now being applied, in addition to creating such a corporatized system from which Americans got their information, did the same to education. By 1990, the disparity between the quality of education that rich children and poor children experienced was tragically high. And the decrease in funding of schools in America, meanwhile, gave the same corporations that were enjoying tax cuts because of it the opportunity to take control of the schools themselves.

In time for Clintonism's ascension, the takeover was complete. The 0.1% controlled the media, the educational system, and 13% of all the new income, and the result was a politically apathetic population. With many young people feeling detached from the political process after receiving insufficient educations and the majority of Americans getting their news from pro-corporate outlets, rates in political awareness, and political participation, suffered. This was reflected in how voter turnout in the 1996 election was a dismal 49%, turnout among young people was at 40% in the 1996 and 2000 elections, and, of course, in the small amount of scrutiny that the Clintons and the Democratic Party received from their liberal supporters during that time.

In short, Reaganism had turned America into an oligarchy with an uninformed and politically submissive citizenry, which laid the foundations for Clintonism. This dystopian situation was assessed by the author Augustus Cochrane in his book Democracy Heading South: National Politics In The Shadow Of Dixie as being the same societal condition which afflicted the mid-century south. Paul Rosenberg explains Cochrane's analysis in the article Clintonism screwed the Democrats: How Bill, Hillary and the Democratic Leadership Council gutted progressivism:
Cochrane argued that the same sorts of maladies which afflicted the South circa 1950, diagnosed in V.O. Key’s classic, Southern Politics in State and Nation, had come to afflict the nation as a whole. The specific structures might differ—lungs vs gills—but the functions, or dysfunctions were strikingly similar, he argued, with political power held tight by wealthy elites while the majority of voters were confused, disengaged, or entirely absent, with politics serving them primarily as entertainment. In the 1950s-era South, its one party system was functionally a no-party system, operating somewhat differently from state to state. In the country at large, the same result later came from a dealignment of politics—the White House controlled by one party, congress by another—a frequent, but not dominant pattern in American politics until 1968, after which it’s become the normal state of affairs. The intensified role of money and media served to accelerate the breakdown of party bonds and further entrepreneurial politics, in which individual politicians thrive by branding themselves, regardless of how party allies may fare.
The good news is that this degenerate form of democracy, where the masses apathetically submit themselves to a continuation of the status quo, was not built to last. Though the state of America's media and educational system has only gotten worse since the 90's, as income inequality has soared to obscene levels, more people have been compelled to revolt against the political establishment that they could once afford to prop up.

After another poor voter turnout in the 2000 election, it soared to 56.7% in 2004, with 49% of young voters participating. This had correlated with a major surge in support during that year's Democratic presidential primaries for the leftist candidate Howard Dean, who, barring the series of attacks that the media and the Democratic establishment unleashed on him, would have likely been elected in 2004. This new strength in political involvement, especially among young people, became more apparent in the 2006 and 2008 elections, the latter of which had a turnout of 58.23% with 66% of participants under thirty voting for Barack Obama.

Because Obama and the other Democrats of his generation then proved to be more or less as Clintonist as their predecessors, voter participation then dropped again, with a 39.9% turnout in the 2010 midterms, a 54.87% turnout in 2012, and a tellingly small 36.4% turnout in 2014. But with the appearance of Bernie Sanders, it was clear that young people and others were fully poised to defeat Clintonism. 29% more young voters chose Sanders than those of them who chose both Trump and Clinton combined. And though Hillary prevailed in the end, had more independents been allowed to vote in the primaries, he could have easily won. There's also evidence that had the voting process itself been conducted fairly, Democrats alone would have propelled Sanders to the nomination.

But in the next few years, given the Democratic Party's steady decline and the coming dominance of millennials over the electorate, we may well see the death of Clintonism occur not with a reform of the Democrats but with the rise of a populist third party.

Whether Clintonism's replacement will indeed be something to the left of it, or if it will be the dark, degenerate brand of populism that Trump espouses, will have to be determined later. But what's certain is that even if Obama isn't the last Clintonist president we'll see in our lifetimes, Hillary herself will be.

Clintonism may have sown its own destruction in the short term, but after America is returned to something more economically equal and the citizenry becomes happy with its government, there's no reason it won't one day take a new form and rise again. When that time comes, many decades from now, hopefully Americans will be able to remember the lessons from this era and reject Clintonism before it retakes control. And if we can reach that state as a nation, where such a cynical and deceptive brand of politics has been made a thing of the past, we'll be able to truly say, "I have news for the forces of greed and the defenders of the status quo: your time has come and gone."

Friday, September 16, 2016

Clinton Is Hurting Democrats More Than Trump Is Hurting Republicans

The Reagan/Bush years were not a good time for the Democrats. The liberal trend in public sentiments created by the New Deal and the Cultural Revolution had receded, and the vast majority of the electorate was so swept up in Cold War patriotism and memories of Carter's handling of the Iran Hostage Crisis that they were willing to take offensive caricatures of "welfare queens" and baseless accusations of the left being subservient to communism seriously. This was most apparent when the mere use of the word "liberal" as an attack against Michael Dukakis in 1988 served as a major factor in his loss.

And so when the Clintons, the Third Way political think tank, and the Democratic Leadership Council sought to take over the party and shift it to the right, they had the perfect excuse: it's simply the only way to survive against the Republicans. And at the time, it sadly appears, this was true.

But then the unthinkable began to occur: after years of supporting policies which increased the wealth gap, more Americans started to notice that they were becoming poorer themselves. This of course led to a comeback for the left. By 2003, 63% of Americans thought that wealth should be more equally distributed (which is as much as they do today), 63% also thought that those with the highest incomes weren't paying their fair share in taxes, and though at least 70% supported the War in Iraq at the time it started, that number was quickly narrowing.

And the effects of this on the Democratic establishment were very much apparent. Starting with the success of Ralph Nader's 2000 campaign, the left was rebelling against its self-appointed standard bearers, and in time for the 2004 election cycle, they were ready to take the Democratic Party back. Howard Dean, the anti-Iraq War, crowdfunded Vermont Governor who advocated a serious effort to defeat corporate rule, was propelled to the front of the Democratic presidential nomination ticket.

And then came the backlash. In addition to the media's calculated attacks on Dean, past Democratic nominees and the rest of the party's corporate wing were eager to not just publicly oppose him but to undermine his campaign. Since the left hadn't yet gathered enough strength, this quickly killed his chances, leaving corporate Democrats free to continue asserting their political dominance while ignoring or marginalizing the populist wing of their base.

But they could only get away with it for so long.

Since 2008, the Democratic Party has experienced a period of decline unprecedented in the history of party affiliation. After the fervor of Obama's first presidential campaign died down and Democrats actually came into power, Americans began to dislike the party more and more. Especially with the great recession, the vast majority wanted a system that held corporate America accountable, allowed a much more equal amount of opportunity, and took care of those in need. And given the Democrat's embrace of the Wall Street bailouts, failure to sufficiently raise taxes on the rich, and rejection of universal health care, it was clear that the party did not represent these goals.

And yet in the year 2016, when income inequality (which has actually increased more under Obama than it did under Bush) is once again at a level which puts us in one of history's great phases of revolt among the lower classes, the Democratic Party leadership is still stuck in the same mindset that it was in the early 90's.

Though evolving public sentiments on issues such as abortion and gay marriage has prompted the Democratic establishment to become somewhat more progressive since then, with the installment of Hillary Clinton as the leader of the party, not only has its agenda failed to change to something more populist, but it's in fact moving further to the right.

In March, 121 prominent neoconservatives signed an open letter regarding their rejection of Donald Trump's candidacy and policies, which stated among many other things that "His vision of American influence and power in the world is wildly inconsistent and unmoored in principle." This meant that though they did not approve of his pandering to the extreme right on social issues and civil liberties, they saw him as a threat to the consistently hawkish foreign policy model that they embraced. And so, having also said that "We commit ourselves to working energetically" to keeping Trump out of office, Clinton and the Democratic Party was now the new home for their agenda.

And the desire for such bipartisan merging has been mutual. Despite the usual hostility among most Republicans towards Hillary Clinton still being prevalent, Trump is creating an opportunity for the Democratic and Republican parties to essentially become one. Clinton's eagerness to reach out to dissatisfied Republicans, which has involved tactics such as creating a conservative outreach group called Together for America, accommodating the Republicans who have endorsed her, and working with Paul Ryan on combating poverty (a worthy goal, but still a signal that the ties between her and the GOP are strengthening), has caused some to actually speculate that she wants Republicans to keep the majority in congress.

Democrats under Clinton are also making inroads in parts of the GOP's base, with their cynical campaign having won over nearly half of New York Republicans. She isn't doing that well with them in most other regions, but nationwide, the number of Republicans who support her (8%) is larger than the number of Democrats who support Trump (5%). While that doesn't sound like much of a difference, if the situation were reversed, Trump would be comfortably in the lead.

What we are seeing this year is the logical conclusion of the electoral strategy which Hillary and Friends put into play more than twenty years ago-appeal to as many people as possible regardless of their ideology, and you're sure to receive the (sometimes reluctant) backing of most Americans. Making two major parties into one is the ultimate form of such political triangulation, and it's only going to get worse. If Trump is the next president, he will further alienate the old-guard Republicans, and more of them will realign with the pro-free trade, pro-war Democratic Party. A president Clinton would of course try to create a similar situation by governing the same as Obama on trade and to the right of him on foreign policy. HA Goodman describes this dynamic as "the foundation of fascism, when both parties unite on war and liberals defend neoconservative principles."

The good news is that this won't last. As I stated before, we have reached a point where income inequality is so extreme that the vast majority quite literally aren't able to afford to support status-quo politicians, and as the Democrats continue to pivot towards the interests of the elite, I fully expect a broad swath of their former base to rally around a genuinely populist third party in the next few years. There are signs of this already in the fact that the beliefs of Americans are highly inconsistent with the goals of the two major parties, and in the major surge in support that the Green Party has received this year. In a country with today's economic conditions, those who fail to address the concerns of the people are destined to fail politically, and the irony is that while Trump's brand of reactionary populism has hurt the Republican Party, it's still a more sustainable strategy than the one the Democrats are using.

The strangest part of this is that the Democratic elite apparently has no idea they're marching towards their doom. Last year, the Third Way (which has direct ties to Hillary Clinton) published an essay titled "Ready For The New Economy." It gives Democrats the advice of shifting away from a populist message (something that the author is unaware they did a long time time ago), the argument for which it presents in a way that couldn't be any more detached from reality:
Moreover, the narrative of fairness and inequality has, to put it mildly, failed to excite voters. In each of the last three election cycles, Democrats—the self-styled party of the middle-class—have lost the middle class by an average of seven points, a combined margin of defeat of 20.4 million votes.22 In 2014, this margin was 11-points,23 indicating once again that the “fairness” agenda and narrative Democrats offered did not connect well with middle income voters. Between 2008 and 2013, party registration for Democrats shrunk (-428,687) as Independent registration surged (+2.5 million).24 And, at the sub-presidential level, Democrats are in their deepest hole in nearly a century. Democrats today hold fewer House, Senate, and governors’ offices than at any time since 1930. When state legislative bodies are included, Democrats now have the smallest number of legislative majorities since Reconstruction. These trends should compel the party to rigorously question the electoral value of today’s populist agenda.
This is how the Democratic leadership views their base-people who would actually prefer to have their economic interests hurt. That is the political equivalent of an abusive relationship, and it can't last. When Howard Dean tried to redeem the Democratic Party, it could afford to reject him. Now that it's done the same to Bernie Sanders, there's no hope left for it.

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

The Best Thing You Can Do This Year To Fight The Two-Party System

It was spring 2003, and things were getting scary. The military-industrial complex had stooped to a possibly unprecedented low with its deception-based tactics for starting the War in Iraq, and the soldiers and civilians on the front lines of the conflict were not the only ones experiencing its most direct effects. Those who objected to the invasion-who only made up around 75% of the American population at one point-endured not just cultural and media shaming if they spoke out against it publicly, but threats to their safety. Michael Moore, the future director of the infamous uncovering of the Bush Administration Fahrenheit 9/11, was a dramatic example of one of these victims. After delivering his very public and very anti-Iraq War speech at the Academy Awards, according to Moore's autobiography, he began to have fanatical patriots routinely trespassing on his home, sending him threatening phone calls and letters, and even plotting terrorist attacks against him.

That was the same year Moore promised himself that he would never vote for Hillary Clinton.

This pledge, which he revealed to us in a recent article of his, was (I'm guessing) more than about her voting for the war and thus sharing responsibility for the danger he's since been in. It was about how she represents a political establishment which enables not just that, but any  other kind of destructive action on the government's part, to be endorsed by both major parties. And this establishment, he no doubt would agree, needs to be wholly rejected by the citizenry.

But this November, Moore also says in the article, he plans to break that promise for the reason of wanting to stop Donald Trump.

It's one of the greatest dilemmas people like Moore and I have ever faced; whatever one's excuse for voting for Clinton, doing so is ultimately a sign of support for geopolitical, environmental, and economic exploitation, and for the American two-party system that serves it. But however justified refusing to vote for her may seem, it's still a vote for Trump, who, in addition to doing these things, would help a sinister political movement which hurts women, gays, immigrants, refugees, and racial minorities.

Or so we've been told.

To be clear, I do not want Trump to win. Though the notion that he can somehow find the political influence to deport millions of undocumented immigrants and build an enormous wall is absurd, his presence in the world stage would destroy America's reputation abroad and embolden the small but growing population of racists in the United States to commit hate crimes. I also think that a Clinton presidency, in addition to averting these things, would do great harm to the little popularity that she and the Democratic Party has, creating a serious opening for a genuinely progressive party like the Greens to succeed in the 2018 and 2020 elections. However, I think that if the Green Party's Jill Stein receives a Nader-esque amount of the vote and Clinton still wins, not only would it deprive the mainstream media of a reason for painting the Greens as "the ones who elected Trump," but it would help turn her party into a prominent force in politics.

So how do we both prevent a neo-fascist from winning the White House and still beat the more underhanded brand of fascism that Hillary Clinton promotes? You aren't going to hear this from the major media, but there's a loophole that will allow us to vote for Stein without swinging the election. And ironically, that loophole was created by the very same electoral establishment that's telling us a third-party vote is a vote for Trump.

What is this magical solution? It's called the Electoral College.

In United States presidential elections, the outcome is not determined by who wins the majority of the overall votes cast. It's instead decided by the amount of "electoral votes" that a candidate receives, which relies on the number of states that they win the majority of votes in. As Stein supporter John Laurits writes, the result of this system is a situation where many voters are, in essence, throwing away their votes by choosing the candidate who's already certain to win the state:
Now, this is about to get pretty ridiculous because the truth is that, even when a candidate wins a state, a lot of the votes for that candidate also don’t matter. Here’s why — let’s say that the GOP wins a state 51-49% against the democrat & the GOP candidate takes 100% of the state’s electoral votes. Now, imagine the same situation, except this time the GOP wins with 75% — in a winner-takes-all system, do they get any more or any less electoral votes? No. Now, imagine they’ve won the same state with 99.9% — does the GOP candidate get even 1 more or 1 less electoral vote? They do not. So — did it “matter” who any of the votes past 51% were for?
From a technical standpoint, no. That 48.9% of the state's voters would not have any affect whatsoever on the results of the election. But if enough of them were to overcome the lie that a third-party vote automatically helps the other side win and cast their ballots for an alternative candidate, and the millions of other Americans who find themselves in a similar position were to do the same, the future of that winning candidate's party would come under serious threat.

So with there being 40 to 43 states where voters will find themselves in such a situation, I ask of those who are reluctant to vote for Clinton but don't want to elect Trump to look into whether you live in one of those places where you can vote your conscience with impunity. 130 million people are expected to participate in this election, and if enough of them use their votes strategically rather than out of baseless fear that going third party will put the country at risk, this will turn into by far the most successful year that the Greens have ever had.

I especially hope that this article (or a different one with the same information) reaches Michael Moore. Because when he votes in his solidly Blue home state of Michigan, he'll be faced with a larger choice than simply Clinton vs Trump: Clinton vs the Greens. If Hillary Clinton wins with the Green Party having received a small share of the vote, she and her fellow militaristic neoliberals will more likely be able to continue dominating politics in the election cycles to come, which may well lead to a repeat of the Iraq War or something even worse. And if Moore and the many other non-swing state voters create that scenario by ignoring the Greens in 2016, I believe they will, with all due respect for whatever decision they ultimately make, have wasted their votes.

Sunday, September 11, 2016

Why The Greens Are Going To Win

Late in the 2016 Democratic primaries, Huffington Post contributor Frank Huguenard wrote an article titled "Why Bernie Is Going To Win." Aside from the technical reasons he gave for why he believed Bernie Sanders' nomination was inevitable, such as his opponent's at-the-time certain FBI indictment, his main argument had to do with something far bigger. The emotions of fear and uncertainty that politicians like Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump have always used to succeed, concluded Huguenard, are no longer strong enough to be sufficiently exploited, which means that Sanders, someone who appeals to people's hopes rather than their more base emotions, is destined to become the next president.

For now, the institutional powers that Trump and Clinton are apart of have succeeded in stamping down the effects of this shift in public consciousness. But the shift itself has not gone away.

The societal transformation that Huguenard describes is just one of the reasons I believe that a massive surge in support for a populist and environmentalist alternative to the Republican and Democratic parties-which, by default, will likely be the Green Party-is certain to occur in the coming years. To echo Huguenard, the writing is on the wall, with an economic collapse coming soon which will destroy all notions that the Democrats are the party of the people, the two major parties rapidly diminishing in an electoral shakeup that will create a political vacuum, and the Green Party being our only chance to defeat Trumpist neo-fascism. All of these factors point to an astronomical rise for the Green Party, and I've gone so far as to put together a projection of how it could very well play out.

But this article is not meant to be a sequel for Hueguenard's earlier prediction. Because though I have high hopes for the Greens' victory in 2018, 2020, and beyond, as we've seen, there's always a possibility that such electoral upheavals can be suppressed when the oligarchy controls the process.

This article is an extension of the deeper part of Huegenard's point, which is that regardless of who runs the government, our society-and our species-is experiencing deep and meaningful changes for the better.

The strange series of ideas I'm about to present to you have nothing (directly) to do with electoral reform, the Green Party, or anything else you may have expected to be reading about. They instead have to do with the following animation.
This shape is called a hypersphere. Aside from being fun to look at, it's a visual representation of the nature of human history.

Think of the progress that mankind has made-population expansion, technological advancement, economic growth, and the other factors that have worked to create modern civilization-as if they were those lines that make up the hypersphere. As the lines are moving on the sides of the shape, not much about their structure is changing. This reflects the very long period in our species' past where the several million people on the planet were operating in technologically basic, mostly anarchical lifestyles that went virtually unchanged throughout the lives of both their grandparents and grandchildren.

But as the lines continue to move, they begin to come closer together, and the shape that they make turns into an increasingly narrow tube. The same is also the case for humanity's advancement, in that around 5300 years ago with the invention of writing, the pace of progress became exponentially faster. By 150 years ago, communication had advanced to instant transmission from long distances in the form of the telegraph, weaponry had advanced to firearms, and scientific knowledge had advanced to a full awareness of our planet and solar system's form. By 20 years ago, those three factors had advanced to the World Wide Web, atomic weapons, and an awareness of the structure of the universe itself had entered the general consciousness.

But these trends, along with the many other products of human advancement that are shaping the world, would have to one day come to a halt. Endless acceleration is impossible, and at some point human progress will need to pass through that extremely narrow area in the center of the hypersphere and start traveling back towards that steady, slow period it started out in.

And in a lot of ways, we've already passed through that threshold. Population growth won't start to decrease until an unclear number of decades from now, but since 1960, its rate has peaked and is moving ever closer to stagnation. Perhaps not coincidentally, the rate of economic growth, as well as social, scientific, and technological progress, has experienced a similar shift, having gone from a sharp climb to a relative plateau.

And as Jay Weidner, one of the authors of the presumptuously named but fascinating collection of essays The Mystery Of 2012 thinks, this could all amount to something positive. "In the Golden Age," he writes, referring to the period that humanity is entering as it breaks through the bottom of the historical funnel, "each day, each month, each year appears to be longer than the previous day, month, and year. Time is expanding in the Golden Age, and with that expansion, the anxiety and tension of the Iron Age [the age of rapid advancement] will disappear. It is a paradise, especially for those who survive passing through the wormhole, the null point at the center of the hyperdimensional sphere."

Indeed, our final destination in this wild ride through the singularity appears to be a return to a simpler, and in many ways more pleasant, time. The consequence of living in this extraordinary moment in history, where time moves at an unprecedented rate, is that those who live through it are forced to keep up. The manifestations of this phenomenon-especially apparent in America-have been schoolchildren wasting countless hours of their childhoods by doing an excessive amount of flawed academic work, workers putting enormous amounts of labor into jobs that pay them well below the fair equivalent, and a consumer-based culture that drives these people to frantically pursue superficial and often useless products. All of these things will give way to a more sane and happy society as the era that brought about their existence fades.

The big question, though, is what kind of price we'll have to pay to get there.

As I mentioned before, something has changed about humanity's general mindset. For the first time, the majority of people no longer hold the worldview that defines everything wrong with the previous age, which is to say the belief that greed, punishment, and exploitation are always necessary behaviors. Polls show that most Americans want to protect the environment, avoid military conflicts, have a society free of social prejudices, and an end to the massive gap in wealth. They've moved past the old paradigm's illusion of individual detachment, where each person's goals, problems and interests are a matter of no one other than themselves, and embraced the reality that every person is part of a global community as well as a global ecology. And they know that in order to survive, they must take care of their fellow human beings along with the planet itself.

In other words, they're ready to live in a society that fits the model of the bottom half of the hypershere, where the short-sighted thinking and reckless, material-based ambition of the top half no longer defines how humans wield their power.

But when you actually look at the state of the world, things appear to be moving in the opposite direction. The Democratic elite's rejection of Bernie Sanders has caused a major setback for the government's ability to meet its climate goals, with the best environmental candidate for president (with a realistic chance of winning, at least) now being Hillary Clinton, someone who's entire political philosophy goes against the actions she would need to take to fix the problem. And with the earth's average temperature having gone up more than 1.4 degrees since pre-industrial levels, not far from the 2 degree mark that scientists agree would do irreversible harm to the stability of the climate, it looks like the idea of leaving our world safe for future generations is so last decade.

And the inevitable transition to renewable energies, the one thing that may well ultimately save the species from total extinction, will be what causes it a lot of short-term trauma. As the world's fossil fuel reserves become increasingly less likely to be used in the following decades, due to both shrinking supplies and an increased effort from the masses to abandon a lifestyle that's killing the planet, it will trigger an unprecedented backlash from the oligarchy. Nafeez Ahmed explains this ominous possibility in his piece We Could Be Witnessing The Death Of The Fossil Fuel Industry-Will It Take The Rest Of The Economy Down With It?
Eager to cling to the last vestiges of existence, the old centers of power will still try to self-maximize within the framework of the old paradigm, at the expense of competing power-centers, and even their own populations.
And they will deflect from the root causes of the problem as much as possible, by encouraging their constituents to blame other power-centers, or worse, some of their fellow citizens, along the lines of all manner of ‘Otherizing’ constructs, race, ethnicity, nationality, color, religion and even class.
Have no doubt. In coming decades, we will watch the old paradigm cannibalize itself to death on our TV screens, tablets and cell phones. Many of us will do more than watch. We will be participant observers, victims or perpetrators, or both at once.
Don't get too worried, though-humans may be too busy fighting each other during these next few years to think about the climate or resource depletion. As an article titled Here's How World War Three Could Start Tomorrow (written a year ago) articulates, the world's nations have become not just more advanced in their levels of weaponry as history has entered its most active period in the hypershere, but they've grown more competitive with each other in their roles as world powers. Until some larger force comes into play that returns them to a more limited state, the risk of major global conflict will be ever-present.

However, the most immediate danger we'll be facing during our departure from the bottom of the historical funnel has to do with the main driver behind climate change, exploitation of natural capital, and war: money itself. About that economic crisis I briefly touched on earlier...I'm not joking. All of the evidence, from the fact that the housing market hasn't been this high in a decade, to the stock market having been behaving similarly, to the economy itself having been re-wired by the Wall Street bailouts eight years ago to be more vulnerable to collapse, points to the coming of what some think will be the greatest crash in history.

And that crash may have already started.

In the last 24 hours, the Dow Jones Industrial Average has dropped 400 points, and the stock market, which experienced its least active period in 20 years from July 24 to September 9, has went through its biggest drop since the aftermath of Brexit. We'll have to wait and see if these events are the first in the quick succession of catastrophic shortages in currency that I expect to occur this fall, but even if we see little more such activity in the next few days, a true disaster is about to hit. And when the Federal Reserve tries to intervene, the jaded observer in world events James Howard Kunstler puts it:
Events, not personalities, are going to demonstrate where things are at in the late-stage techno-industrial crack-up at hand. The shamans at the Federal Reserve have exhausted their repertoire of incantations for levitating the financial markets and, more ominously, the value of the US dollar. The prankish god they serve has arranged things so that the very faith needed to sustain their illusory influence will run down the drain as November 8 creeps closer. They must be getting awfully nervous down at the Eccles Building.
To sum it all up, we are about to enter, as the title of one of Kunster's books describes it, "The Long Emergency." Humanity, which largely bought into the societally unsustainable methods of conducting themselves during their feverish tenure through the hypersphere's top half, will as a result find the transition into the grand cycle's next phase to be difficult and confusing. When our past mistakes catch up with us, starting with this year's financial crisis, will we finally wake up to the deep flaws within our system and step up to change them? Kunstler doesn't think so. As he also says in that article, "We’re too unused to reality. We’d rather crash and burn than change anything about our behavior, or even our perception. Both Trump and Hillary are perfect avatars for this date with a hard landing. The disorder both of them are capable of inducing will be a spectacle for the ages."

I have good reason to believe Kunstler is wrong.

In the interests of brutal honesty, all of the events that I just described are likely to occur in the next few decades, and some of them (like the ecological collapse, the recession, and the depletion of traditional energy sources) are inevitable. But as I was careful to make clear the whole way through, I believe that human beings will survive it all. And yes, I believe civilization will survive as well.

I live in northern California. In addition to being one of the best-performing regions for both Bernie Sanders and the Green Party, there is another aspect of the region that the rest of the country can learn from: how its residents choose to manage their community. Though they reluctantly participate in the fossil fuel-based, import-driven system that affects all corners of modern civilization, there is a highly apparent effort among the general population to change how their economy functions. In addition to a wide demand for solar panels, bicycles as a means of transportation, and other practices that reduce one's carbon footprint, it's the way that the area produces much of its food that helps the likelihood of a sustainable future.

Organic, local farming, a method of food production that many, if not most, people in my area eagerly embrace, will prove to be an important part of healing the wounds we inflicted on the earth in the previous age. Because, as Nafeez Ahmed also explains in his article:
The idea of removing carbon from the atmosphere sounds technologically difficult and insanely expensive. It’s not. In reality, it is relatively simple and cheap.
A new book by Eric Toensmeier, a lecturer at Yale University’s School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, The Carbon Farming Solution, sets out in stunningly accessible fashion how ‘regenerative farming’ provides the ultimate carbon-sequestration solution.
Regenerative farming is a form of small-scale, localised, community-centred organic agriculture which uses techniques that remove carbon from the atmosphere, and sequester it in plant material or soil.
Using an array of land management and conservation practices, many of which have been tried and tested by indigenous communities, it’s theoretically possible to scale up regenerative farming methods in a way that dramatically offsets global carbon emissions.
This means that if we can get all the inhabitants of the industrialized world to adopt northern California's approach towards agriculture, as well as decentralize the economy in most other areas, such as breaking up the banks so much that they operate on a local level and democratizing how business functions so that the workers control the wealth that they produce rather than the corporate executives, civilization can and will be saved. As history begins to move into the other side of the hypersphere and the old order violently implodes in on itself, if the methods that I propose are widely implemented, we'll be able to salvage the positive elements that the previous age produced-electricity, the internet, modern methods of scientific research-by simply detaching ourselves from the old, unsustainable lifestyle and building a new utopia of localized, and at the same time hyperconnected, communities.

Which, at last, brings us back to my original point: that even if Bernie Sanders or the Green Party aren't here to enact the legislation to help create such a world, we'll be able to create it ourselves.

Even as the old centers of power play out the final stages of their irresponsible game, a new model of societal function is emerging, and not just in my hippie-populated hometown. As Gal Alperovitz' recent article 6 Ways We're Already Leading An Economic Revolution reports, society is doing just that. To sum up the piece, thanks to the efforts of ordinary people in places like Philadelphia, North Dakota, Greensboro in North Carolina, Boulder, and more, we are seeing the creation of a system called the Pluralist Commonwealth, where local communities are free from control by bankers and big business, resources are produced and exchanged on an economically and environmentally sustainable level, and all methods of economic and militaristic imperialism are irrelevant. In other words, the makings for a very bright future.

And so several decades from now, after the Greens have (most likely) succeeded in transforming politics and the values that they represent have transformed society regardless, the grand cycle of time will have been completed. Humanity will have emerged from the insane vortex of the hypersphere's central point with both more knowledge and more wisdom than ever before, and in spite of a depleted (but still usable) supply of oil, an economy that they largely had to start building from scratch, and a damaged climate, they're ready to begin the long, collective healing process and continue living in peace far into the future.

Maybe I'm wrong in my political predictions. Maybe the Greens will be held back by the establishment just like Bernie Sanders was, and the phrase "See You In 2020" will become a sadly ironic memory. But if what I just described doesn't sound like a victory for the Greens' agenda, I don't know what does.