Political theory

I don’t know why Americans are surprised by this kind of thing. It’s a natural result of having the primary system that they have. In the American model, primaries are a way for the most extreme wings of any caucus, if they hold a sway vote, perhaps as small as 5% or even less, to push a more radical candidate.

When you have a party like the Republicans, whose policies historically have been unsupported by a majority of US voters, often even within the Republican Party itself, you create the situation where the prevailing candidate for election will have to make commitments to single-issue factions to gain support, and that’s been exacerbated by the rise of Trumpism.

You can see a similar mechanism at work in Israeli elections, where the proliferation of parties happens because their promotional representation electoral system allows parties with as small as 5% of the vote to take seats in the Knesset. To rule, parties with more moderate views have to compromise with more extremist factions.

In many other countries with primaries, the organization of the primary is within the party itself, and most parties take steps to limit participation to those who have established standing (i.e. a minimum of one-year registered membership in the party) to allow participation. Because the US system is a matter of legislation, anyone can “join” a party simply by changing their affiliation – another absurd way of doing things.

And in better-run democracies, run-off elections ensure that final electoral contests produce an actual popular winner, with the majority of the voters behind them, erasing much extremist influence. and others simply do without it, and things work fine.

Primaries are the cheapest place for corporations and PACs to exert influence, by effectively reducing the number of candidates in the actual inter party elections they have to buy. And primaries, coming before elections, act to guarantee that voters are exhausted by campaigning that never ends months before the actual election; while doing nothing to actually focus on general popular demand; parties run their primaries solely on the issues and policies that they want to focus on; where was the last Republican Primary that was won or lost on Climate Change policy?


i think that analysis fails because it’s definitely not true of both parties.

look at biden, clinton, obama, the other clinton. they are far far far from the extreme. easy to argue they are right of center on many issue in fact. sanders is one of our most “extreme” left candidates, and he’s hardly radical

this is closer to the cause. money tilts the whole playing field rightward - primary and general, local and national - because the american courts have removed nearly all restrictions on political spending.


[Citation needed]


So what if the primary tends to polarize each candidate to the most “extreme” extent of their party’s platform.

It doesnt explain why a right-wing party’s extreme wing is appealing to so many people.
Especially when it demonstrably harms the vast majority of those supporting it.
If you are six- of seven-figure wealthy and/or christian evangelical, sure, go for it; but everyone else is having their faces eaten by an ever-hungry face-eating leopard.

I actually agree with you on this, but I think the tendency is true of the system, so there’s no point in saying it’s a fundamentally Republican problem. It is true right now, because since Lee Atwater started consciously gaming the electoral system to compensate for Republican’s innate unelectability, it’s been an integrated part of their game plan. But you could (from a right wing point of view) argue that FDR was a radical.

The reason that non-constitutional primary systems like the one in Canada (where I come from) work better is that they provide a mechanism for the party decision makers to ensure that party policy stays where they’ve decided it ought to be. In the list of Democrats, this was true; but Sanders is a party outsider, and in this case the primary system was basically overridden to allow that doctrinaire focus that the Clintonite wing of the party had ordained to stay in place.

So I think that simply illustrates the bad stuff that happens when the US primary system works as intended. The problem there is, with no practical way to form third parties, any political point of view gets represented or quashed based on how a party elite decides it should be dealt with.

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Nor does it address how come generations of elections with the same party system have produced mainly neoliberal centrists. In fact it’s only one specific subset of those party primaries that produce extremism, which have clearly changed in time with no correlation at all with changes to primary rules. Almost like the two things have nothing to do with each other.

Like all other examples of irrelevant arguments that take the focus off of the current upswell of right-wing nationalist extremism, its hard not to think that the obfuscation is the point. Like that the speaker is just one step from equating white-nationalism with FDR, or some other bullshit


if the problem the Republicans faced was that their policies would get them elected, they wouldn’t have devoted so much of their time and energy in vote suppression, gerrymandering, negative campaigning, and out and out fantasies. All of those policies are meant to pull in excluded single-issue minorities, and hugely magnify their influence. And the real basis of the Republican’s control over government is the Senate, where the disproportion of popular vote is maximized.

What the resulting voter patterns mean they have to deal with is having power, as opposed to irrelevancy. Republicans are very good at party discipline, in the electorate through populist fear campaigns, and in the party through the hunger for power.

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true but it’s a different issue that the one you first raised, and not the biggest issue we have

it’s critical to correctly diagnose the issues in order that people can understand and respond

oligarchy tilts the system hard to the right and that - along with the direct ties of money to white supremacy - are the number one problem(s) we face in the us.

radicalism of the primary system is not a “both sides” issue here. ( it may be elsewhere a bit. though i think oligarchy to me seems to be the biggest tilt everywhere )


I would hate to think that the person I was politely debating with would be as quick off the mark to try to characterize my views on no evidence in a way so polarized as to eliminate the possibility of actual debate.

Any serious study of the FDR administration’s development of policy shows that what they initially got elected on, and what they actually did – which includes massive programs of socialist institution building, and cruclal alliances with the country that most fully embodied the polar opposite of American economic principles – represents a massive and radical shift.

FDR got through two more incumbent elections, and avoided being primaries, notably because Huey Long, put forward as a candidate with competing policies, died before the election. So it was the suspension of primaries in 1936 that let him expand on the radical solutions (thank god) that he was bringing in place. Again, you only need passing familiarity with the previous administration’s inability to cope with the Depression to see just how radical they were.

You may be surprised to learn that a radical in one party is not the precise equivalent of a radical in another party with hugely different policies. in fact, it seems you would be. Let me disabuse you of that, and perhaps your propensity for civil debate will get a better chance to shine.

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Thanks for the condescension. Greatly appreciated.
My point which you obviously missed is to point out that you’re threadjacking with walls of text of irrelevant bullshit on a story about the current very real right-wing extremism doing great harm to this country. Either the point of your posts is to distract from and obfuscate the problem of Noem and her ilk dragging the US into Gilead, or you really need to take a step back and look again at your posts


The “both sides” approach you raise is a red herring; the Republicans did not have to introduce any constitutional change to enact their particular model of the primary system to radicalize their party. So the tools are there for either party to use. For a great deal of their history, the Republicans did not use these tools, so it’s not inherent in the party. My point elsewhere is that FDR brought in policies that were a profound upheaval, but the party didn’t primary to maintain orthodoxy, because they anticipated a fight from a moderate candidate in the form of Long, which didn’t materialize; and then because of the war.

Having made the point against US style primaries, I actually thought that the next step would be to demonstrate that you don’t have to entirely abandon primaries to make them work better. and to show that there are much better examples, including right across the border. My goal is not to win on the first point, but to engage in an informed discussion of what practical steps could improve the system. I think that moving primaries out of the constitution of the electoral system, and into the parties would be an improvement. I gave an example.

I didn’t say that primaries are the “biggest issue” you have; but they do, in my opinion, represent the most readily improved, with the least inherent resistance arising from established policies, that could be changed. If there is resistance, it will come from the Corporatists on both sides, interested in maintaining a crucial lever in limiting political choice. And that in itself might provide a model for bipartisan work to achieve it.

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I think condescension is one way to characterize my post; but at that level of broadness, where you’re only trying to shut down well constructed arguments from an interlocutor that otherwise shows you respect, it applies better to your polarizing comments that I responded to.

The idea behind the area you type isn’t that that represents the maximum length of reply; I think you’re mistaking this for Twitter.

Most of us aren’t “surprised,” yo;

We’re pissed off.

Someone with no skin in the game pontificating and waxing philosophical over detrimental threats to our well being (and in some literal cases, our lives) does nothing to help us solve our problems.


If you think that Canadians have no skin in the game, ask a Puerto Rican what it’s like to be entirely subject to the whims of a grossly dysfunctional regime that can fuck your people over, and can’t find you on a map. Come to think of it, ask anyone.

Americans aren’t that good, to be blunt, at incorporating information from outside, it’s something we’ve noticed. It doesn’t strike you that people outside the US can name more presidents and provide a more complete account of your history than the average American college graduate? I wonder why that is. Our view of American Exceptionalism isn’t the same as yours, but we both agree it exists. You see the meal; we see the toilet.

Canadians, more than any other country, see Americans as their brothers, as family, as part of a shared history, good and bad on the continent. You didn’t steal our land and conduct outrageous colonial wars against us, like you did the other cohabitants of North America.

We take an interest, because we have no choice, but more than any other country, we have an innate sympathy for you, especially when your regular people get fucked over. Maybe you should think about that.

Christ, the arguments for ignorance are always so inventive.

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Then the first sentence was just a mistake in editing, like “A well formed militia, being necessary” was. Got it. Thanks for the lesson in radical hermeneutics.

This was in reply to NukeML’s point; the quote got lost in he discussion split.

I didn’t say that.

Based solely on your smug, bloviating commentary here, I don’t think you personally have anything to lose; and if by some chance, I’m wrong about that, then perhaps maybe YOU should consider how your condescending walls of text are perceived by someone who actually lives their entire life in someone else’s crosshairs.

But then again, that’s the crux of the whole problem, ain’t it?

Too many people don’t give a happy fuck about the real problems that afflict other people until it somehow inconveniences them personally.

So it goes; me and mine will fight on, regardless.


I’d like to ask you then, “what then is it that means I have no skin in the game?”, but only to see how far gifs and text formatting can go in replacing a structured argument.

Well that’s not exactly true, is it?

The candidates who win the Democratic primaries have pretty much all been pragmatic centrists, not “radicals.” Even Bernie Sanders—arguably the most “radical” candidate to get anywhere close to securing the Democratic nomination in generations—is only labeled as such because he supports policies that most other wealthy countries already have in place.


Yes, your argument here is obviously rock solid, and you’re clearly doing all us lesser beings a huge service by even deigning to engage us with your superior insight…


in the long term, getting rid of the money would help the most. but i repeat myself

all we can do currently is agitate, organize, reveal the right wing as what they are, hold them accountable when we can, and vote. id vote for a centrist, id vote for a socialist, i really don’t care right now

again, i just don’t care and i don’t think anybody else cares either. the structure of primary voting isn’t undermining our fundamental rights: it’s the gop, fascism, oligarchy, and white supremacy. they will use any and all tools to them. restructuring primaries will do nothing. and if it ever mattered, it’s far too late

now for me personally? i’ll be happy to discuss the structure of primaries once we fix all that other stuff. just remind me later in case i forget