The answer is that it surely has to be.
While many Americans have been complaining about the two-party system for decades, never has the inherent idiocy of that system been so pronounced and obvious as in 2016 and the fact that the presidency will be contested by either a celebrity demagogue who at least half the population despises or a criminal who no one likes or trusts.
Or Kang and Kodos, as I prefer to think of them.
But the fact that both parties – the Republicans and the Democrats – appear to have also been in meltdown only serves to expose the ridiculousness of the system to those who otherwise might not have perceived any problem with it before.
With one party going out of its way to halt the rise of a rogue candidate (and failing to do so) and the other pulling out all the dirty tricks to prevent a genuinely popular, grassroots politician from ‘stealing’ the nomination from a corrupt, hated, mistrusted establishment insider, the farce of American ‘democracy’ has never been so evident.
WikiLeaks has now made official what most people already knew – that the DNC has been actively scheming to undermining Bernie Sanders’ campaign at every turn and doing everything possible to ensure that Establishment Messiah Hillary Clinton gets to run for the presidency.
In essence, the DNC was screwing Sanders and his legions of enthusiastic, mostly young, supporters and campaigners the whole time.
Beyond that, of course outright electoral fraud was also brought into play to ensure Hillary’s path to victory (covered at length here).
And it could be argued that the biggest part of the Inside Job was played by mainstream US media, which was fixed into pro-Hillary mode from the outset and spent much of the primaries trying to pretend Sanders was merely some kind of fringe irritant to be dismissed and not allowed to ‘interfere’ with the ‘real’ nominee.
So with Sanders removed from the race – via no small amount of fraud, media scheming and DNC trickery – voters are left with Trump and Hillary: both candidates being immensely unpopular and neither even remotely capable of carrying the trust or goodwill of the majority of the electorate.
But the system is of course designed to work that way: to narrow the arena to limited possibilities, as limited possibilities can be easier rigged or controlled. A binary choice – or at least the controlled perception of a binary choice – is, in essence, undemocratic; but it means that both sides can play the either/or card. Trump: ‘If you vote for Hillary, everything will stay the same.’ Hillary: ‘If you vote Trump, there will be anarchy’.
The situation for many therefore becomes voting out of fear or simply for lack of alternatives: voting Hillary only because you’re scared of Trump, or voting Trump only because you know how crooked Hillary is.
And when even Bernie Sanders himself, who has spent months openly stating how unfit Hillary is for the presidency, gives in and endorses her, it’s no wonder so many people were booing or calling him a sell-out.
Sanders’ reasoning, if you listen to his speech, is literally fear: essentially, he says you must support Hillary or we’ll end up with Trump.
But Sanders could’ve run as an independent. He could’ve, in essence, continued the fight, taking his legions of supporters and campaigners with him. The fact that he didn’t do so – putting aside for now any theories about ‘selling out’ or back-room deals – suggests simply that the whole notion of running as an independent candidate is so dis-empowering, so looked-down-on, that it isn’t even worth contemplating.
And that’s because the system itself is rigged to facilitate the continuation of the two-party system; or what Ralph Nader once called the “two-party dictatorship”.
The most successful Independent campaign in modern memory was in 1992 when businessman Ross Perot ran against Bill Clinton and George H.W. Bush. Perot actually won approximately 19% of the vote (about 20 million votes): yet he was unable to win a single electoral college vote and didn’t win any states.
Sanders, for the record, was also offered a considerable deal by the Green Party candidate Jill Stein – she offered to let him transfer over to her party as the presidential candidate, with Stein staying on as prospective vice-president.
Given what Perot was able to do in a much less toxic time, the potential for a Sanders/Stein campaign to offer voters an option other than Trump or Hillary would’ve been enormous.
Given how much momentum was behind Sanders campaign, and given how many people are openly unwilling to vote for Hillary or for Trump, there was surely never a better time for such a joining of forces. And even if it didn’t result in a win in November, it would draw enough support away from Hillary to amount to a massive political/social statement about the Third Way in American politics and hope for the future.
Instead, Sanders appears to have just caved in and lowered himself to simply trying to frighten people into supporting Hillary – for fear of the alternative.
He too, by playing it that way, is essentially advocating preservation of the system in which your only options are two parties – and whichever candidate those two parties put forward, no matter how horrible those candidates are. Almost literally, Kang and Kodos.
“If you let a third or fourth entity into the debates, the Republicans and Democrats will fall,” former Governor of Minnesota, Jesse Ventura, explains in an interview with CCTV. Ventura, once of the Reform Party, has been a massive advocate for Third Party politics and independent candidates for many years. “They’ve been in charge of this country for 150 years. I guess it gives you one more choice than a dictatorship…”
The media too is completely set up to make independents and Third Party candidates seem like an irrelevance.
The mass media is set up to deny a place at the debating table to these candidates and is modulated to limit their exposure.
And too much of the voting public doesn’t even consider such candidates, because they’ve been conditioned to dismiss them as absolute long-shots or pie in the sky. But when you have elections where 64% of the electorate doesn’t even turn out to vote (because, we’re told, they don’t like either of the two main candidates), what would happen if the bulk of those people instead gave their votes to independents or Third Party candidates?
Even the term ‘Third Party Candidate’ is designed to be inherently dismissive, as it suggests a secondary or lower tier of politics that is somehow inherently less worthy of serious consideration.
So is any of that going to change?
Well, it seems as if America might now reach absolute tipping point: either just go into full, even open, dictatorship mode or allow for the evolution of the system. Trump and Sanders have already fully exposed and discredited the two establishment parties: Trump by bypassing and defeating the Republican establishment completely and Hillary by having to resort to electoral fraud and mass media manipulation to oppress the Sanders campaign.
There has never been a time like this in American politics.
Mass disillusion and mass mistrust in the establishment system is at its all-time high; and while the right-wing voters have Trump, the liberals and progressives find themselves stranded and without a candidate. They can go Third Party or vote for an Independent. Some of them will.
But the desire and absolute need for revolution that has now massively manifested itself might mean that this is the end. The only survival option might be to go into full dictatorship mode: Hillary or Trump – either of them could be the vehicle by which that is enacted, given the right crisis. Or, in a best case scenario, within the next four to eight years, the two major parties will have haemorrhaged so much support that other parties will be significantly strengthened or a whole new movement can pick up major momentum.
But one suspects, pessimistically, that it might take a major crisis of some description for the two-party stranglehold to really end and the system to change.
What is clear from 2016 is that, for progressive Democrats anyway, the desired change cannot be accomplished within the constraints of the party anymore.