It seems my last post has raised some eyebrows, suggesting that I don’t care about politics. What a strange conclusion. What is the valuable lesson to be gleaned from the Tea Party? Through their militancy they’ve been able to push the Republicans to the right. In their unwillingness to compromise and their capacity to organize and put forward candidates, they’ve forced establishment Republicans to the right. Their ideology is terribly wrong, but their tactics are right. And here I’m not saying anything that Zizek hasn’t said about the Act or Badiou about truth procedures.
At present Democrats are holding the American left hostage. For the last three decades the argument has been the same: ” yeah we suck, but if you don’t vote for us the Republicans will take power!”. To this day, Nader is used as a constant cautionary tale for the 2000 elections… Despite the fact that far more Democrats went over to vote for Bush than for Nadar. The result of this Stockholm syndrome is that American leftists end up continuously put Democrats into power that promote neo-liberal, pro-corporate agendas. Short of violent revolution, how is it possible to change this dynamic?
I don’t claim to be saying anything profound or original here, but so long as progressive votes can be taken for granted there’s no hope of change. It will be the same old story: we donate our labor, campaign contributions and votes only to have all that work usurped by a plutocratic political establishment that assumes office. The only way to change this dynamic is through the formation of political forms (in large numbers) that are willing to assume risk and loss. This means 1) refusing to vote for and support establishment candidates that will promote a corporate agenda, and 2) putting forward our own candidates that might not win.
This is the brilliance of the Tea Party. I doubt they expect a nut like Christine O’donnell to win, but while they might lose the battle they win the war. They win the war by forcing the Republican establishment to become more conservative and by very likely forcing them to put up a conservative presidential candidate. They are thus more likely to get more of the sort of legislation they would like to see supported. So how do leftists go about doing that? They don’t do it by getting behind existing Democrats. With health insurance reform and the financial reform we’ve already seen that Obama and Rahm are more than willing to sell us out. So long as we don’t put the fear of god in them none of this will change. But that fear of god can only be produced if people are willing to organize in large enough numbers and assume risk, giving up on the politics of incrementalism and compromise that perpetually moves American politics to the right. Again, nothing original here but it still is worth repeating.