Process vs Policy

Several times this year I’ve found myself making the same mistake. Someone will post on Facebook or Twitter or a blog a political comment or statement about how we need to “find our own way” and not succumb to party politics. About how important it is to vote “for the best candidate” because “both parties are the same.”

So, I dive in and provide a long (very long. Not even exhaustive and yet very, very long) list of the policies that demonstrate just how different the two parties are. Without question, the ideologies that drive the reactionary, regressive, fascistic right wing of the current GOP are diametrically opposed to the liberal, progressive, democratic-socialist wing of the Democratic party. There can be no possible misunderstanding that the two parties are NOT the same!

Ah, but both parties listen to lobbyists over their constituents! Both parties take dirty, dirty corporate money. Both parties actually try to hold power when they have it by vying for procedural advantage when they are in charge and both parties have drawn district maps in their favor. Therefore, their self-evident assertion is, the parties are the same.

I was talking policy. They were talking process.

They are not wrong! Our current political process sucks. It is way too beholden to the monied class, it is skewed way too much in favor of the corporations and their lobbyists. Parties in power gerrymander districts and restrict voter rights, all in an effort to pick their voters instead of allowing the voters to pick their representatives. It takes a stupid amount of money to get elected to the House and it is worse for the Senate and President. It is, without question, a corrupt and degraded system.

And yet? It is the system we currently have. I can be unhappy with the designated hitter rule in Major League Baseball but if I’m going to follow my favorite team in the American League, then I’m going to watch people using a DH. No one in the AL is going to give that advantage up unilaterally because they all want to win! Every team will play the game as it currently is, eek out every advantage allowed by the rules, because that’s how the game is played. If I want people to see positive change in how our country is run, then I, too, have to play the game as it is right now, this election.

That means voting for one of the two major parties in Federal elections so that, when elected, my candidate will have people in place to work with them (see the total lack of down-ballot candidates for the Greens or Libertarians. See also how well Ventura did in Minnesota). It means finding a candidate with whom I come closest to agreeing with on the matters of policy and then working to get them elected by writing letters, calling, expressing my opinion, and even sending in some of that dirty, dirty money. We have to play the game until we elect enough people who agree with us that the process is corrupt so that they can change it. Until we do, the game is never going to change because those playing the game will win.

Never! the process-haters shout, claiming the moral high ground. They will vote for a third party candidate for president, or stay home, or write in the name of their favorite grandfatherly candidate who totes would have won if the party (of which he is not a member) had just gotten behind him instead of the person who had spent 30 years building the party (therefore, again, proving, I suppose, the evil of the political party process). That way, at least, their hands won’t be sullied by mucking around in a corrupt and degraded system.

I have never seen this anti-process stance taken by someone NOT in a position of privilege, whether that be economic or race or gender. Marginalized folks seem to know that the policies that will be put in place will make their lives worse, while those in the dominant class(es) can enjoy their moral purity unsullied.

The game will never be won by those who take their bat and ball and go home. Play the game as it is, until you have the power to change the game. Vote NOW in Wisconsin. Vote NOW for the party that isn’t aligned with fascists and dictators and hatred. Vote Democratic party, up and down the ballot.

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