Election 2016

The Two-Party System Is a Shambling Zombie

It's time to breathe new life into America's undead political parties.


Reporter: "Are they slow moving, Chief?" Officer: "Yeah, they're dead. They're all messed up."

Dialogue from the 1968 pop-cult classic Night of the Living Dead sums up the condition of America's two venerable political parties. Like Zombies, Democrats and Republicans brainlessly plod along, barely hanging on as organizers of choice in our campaign and governance politics. Impotent shells of their former selves, they spawn no new committed partisans, with the upcoming millennial demographic seeking more than just two choices, declaring independence from one-size-fits-all politics. The parties are two old oak trees, providing some shade but rotting at their cores.

The Grand Old Party is split into five branches—actually three limbs, a twig, and a re-surfaced rotting root. The Party of the People has two divisions competing for dominance among its presidential, congressional, and state electoral wings.

Reason TV: Trump and Hillary vs. The Walking Dead—story continues below

Here are findings from autopsies of the bodies left on the political landscape after the Zombie Political Apocalypse of 2016.

The GOP's five divisions (which overlap of course)

Main street, Wall Street conservatives. They are the Bob Dole, Mitt Romney, and Paul Ryan Republicans, who say they seek small government, with little regulation of a fabled free market, demanding low taxes and balanced budgets. Many of them make comfortable livings on K Street in Washington, as corporate welfare lobbyists.

Social conservatives. The anti-gay, anti-choice TV preachers and their flocks are reliable Republican voters, with exit polls revealing a remarkable 81 percent of white, self-identified evangelicals supported Trump, the twice-divorced and thrice married-to-foreigners New Yorker, who has held various positions on abortion and gay rights.

Economic libertarian conservatives. Northeastern, country club Episcopalian Republicans are a dying breed. They make wealth-centric voting decisions, holding blue blood noses in the presence of their Southern, Bible-beating soc-con brethren. Some were publicly part of the #NeverTrump crowd, but probably supported the cheesy real estate magnate in the privacy of no-selfies-allowed voting booths, to protect their bank accounts.

Neo-conservatives. Few in number, they are a twig, not a branch of the GOP tree. But they loom large in old print media editorial and op-ed page propaganda. With help from The Washington Post and The New York Times, these ideologues are always ready to sacrifice American lives and treasury. They gave us the Bush-Cheney elective war in Iraq and Obama's 2009 surge in Afghanistan, working with the neo-con lite faction in the Democratic Party, headed by Hillary and Bill Clinton.

The white nationalist alt-right. Just when we thought it can't happen here, it did. Alt-right Stephen "Breitbart" Bannon was designated as chief White House strategist by Donald Trump, becoming part of the definition of Republican. Sweep back dirt from the rotting roots of the Republican Party tree, and you expose the white nativists, given aid and comfort in the past year by their chosen leader Trump, haranguing against Muslims and Mexican rapists and murderers.

The two Democratic divisions (which also overlap)

The progressive, process liberals. These Democrats-in-the-electorate are championed by Senators Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren. Erstwhile opponents of elective wars and Wall Street bankers, they demand social inclusion of a long list of identity groups, particularly black, brown, Asian, and LGBT people. They want a lot of free stuff, including more Social Security and Medicare for early baby boomers, and tuition-free college for boomer grandchildren. They are citizens united against the First Amendment and its free political speech guarantee, which they want constitutionally amended so they can feel free to speak in "safe spaces."

The now-old New Democrats, colluding with crony capitalists. This congressional and in some cases gubernatorial division of the Democratic Party reared its head in the mid-1980s, as an alt-left option to throw-backs to early 20th century progressives, along with 1950s complete-the-New-Deal, 1960s Great Society, and 1970s McGovern identity-politics Democrats. They are crony capitalist-friendly, tough-on-defense, neo-liberals. With guidance from their pollsters and media consultants, they seek to attract Reagan Democrats to their election-by-election coalitions, forgetting that Reagan Democrats are mostly dead. They give liberal lip service to the social-issues policy frame, while focusing on the economy, stupid, and a neo-con lite foreign policy. They are represented by New York's Chuck Schumer in the Senate Democratic caucus.

So where the hell does that leave the two "major" parties? As a libertarian Democrat, I have no interest in cleaning up the stinking mess left by elephants in the Trump circus. But I would suggest to fellow Democrats that we focus on up-and-coming millennials and their desire for more choices in all three issue frames of politics: economic, foreign, and social.

Start with choosing an institutional party chairman or chairwoman who understands we are now less than the sum of our parts. We are nearly dead. We're all messed up.

NEXT: Yes, We Should Worry About Donald Trump's Business Conflicts of Interests—and His Whole Approach to the Interaction Between Government and Business

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  1. That explains all the legislative seats the Greens and Libertarian’s took nationwide this election cycle. The two parties suck, but at this point they are the only ones able to get elected.

  2. Terry Michael? Chapman wasn’t bad enough?

    1. Nothing, but *NOTHING* screams credibility like being a HIV/AIDS HAART Tx denier, and all the other Blech Hellicopter inanity Brother Micheals is for known.

      Yeah, that does it. No money from me this year, Reason.

      1. Doc, gotta take the good with the bad.

        1. You take them both and then you have the facts of life.

          1. *groans, then narrows gaze*

            1. Does the world never seem to be living up to your dreams?

          2. When a Terry Michael and an Agile Cyborg love each very much, ….

      2. Hamster of Doom suggested we hold out on donations until the last couple days, and then we open negotiations. I like it, it`s dastardly.

        1. Drat…a good idea. I already caved in after I read a sensible Dalmia article.

        2. Don’t miss Katherine Mangu-Ward kicking ass over at the Wall Street Journal–on video no less. Libertarian votes, subscription and donations bang-for-buck pack six to 36 times the law-changing clout of sacrifices tossed in the dustbin of the looter Kleptocracy and its synchronized swim team of roundworms and lampreys.

    2. He’s a contributor who contributes on average around 2 articles a year. It’s not really a big deal, especially when its something we presumably agree upon: that the Dems and GOP suck donkey dick.

      1. That said, it wouldn’t be a big deal if they didn’t post his articles either.

    1. No one has fresher ideas than a woman born before Pearl Harbor.

      1. She is truly a, um, phenomenon.

      2. The lefties see a challenger to Pelosi and said more or less ‘what gives you, a white man, the impression that you can run against Pelosi?”

        See with them it’s not results (which Pelosi has not delivered), it’s identity politics. And BS seniority that seems to infect democrats more so than anything else.

      3. Quiet you. Or she’ll sick the Kiwanis on you.

    2. I’ll never forget the time I shared an elevator with it during my tour of the capitol. I could feel the youthful essence being drained from me with every passing second. DRAINED I SAY.

      1. I presume you didn’t mention you were a libertarian or else she might have zapped you with lightning like the Emperor from Star Wars.

        1. That may be more in Hillary’s skillset. And yes, I am proud of my shop job there. It’s one of my better ones. 😉

        2. Now that I think of it, I got a static shock when I reached out to grab her coat…

          1. That wasn’t coat fabric you were grabbing….

      2. So, you are basically admitting you and Nance, well, hehehehe

    3. Whether coached, or sharp as a tack on his civics, I’ve got to hand it to that kid to hit her with hardballs that send her into stammering stupidity. Bravo, kid. I’d buy you a beer, but the government says you can’t drink it.

    4. That’s a lot of stammering. I’m thinking the Botox has started to damage her brain.

  3. Both parties suck. Now,am I the only one that doesn’t like zombie movies or The Walking Dead? All look the same to me. I used to watch Chiller late at night as a kid. Frankenstein ,Dracula,Creature from the Black Lagoon. That’s entertainment.

    1. The original Romero trilogy, along with the Fulci rip-offs, and the first couple of Return films, were good and I still watch them.

      I haven’t seen a lot to recommend the zombie genre in recent decades through except for 28 Days Later, which I thought was quite good.

      But it’s really, really played out, and I say that as a huge horror fan.

      1. No love for the Dawn of the Dead remake? Those zombies could *run.*

        1. But was it good enough to justify the continued career of Zach Snyder?

            1. I actually didn’t think it was too bad. It lacked the claustrophobia of the original and the glorious ridiculousness of the biker gang interlude, though.

              1. It was watchable but the fact that he had to make the zombies fast moving and cram a bunch of action into it was a sign that Snyder is a hack who doesn’t know how to make a movie beyond choreographing chaotic action scenes.

        2. Barfman, up and atom!

        3. Is that the one with Ving Rhymes? I like that one.

        4. Fast moving zombies are a stupid idea. Zombies are scary because they’re a metaphor for the inexorable progress of disease. Meaning they’re harmless individually but unstoppable in a swarm.

          And yes, that movie should be remembered in shame because it created the illusion that Zack Snyder is a filmmaker.

    2. Zombie movies (or TV shows) are impossibly stupid, except when they’re making fun of the genre, like Zombieland for example.

      The fact many people actually believe a zombie apocalypse is possible explains our political situation.

      1. The Boy Scout one was fun too.

        1. “She’s gumming my ass!”

      2. “The fact many people actually believe a zombie apocalypse is possible explains our political situation.”

        I am of the thinking our political situation now is what makes a zombie apocalypse possible, and may be in fact occurring in safe spaces and youtube vids around the country.

    3. -raises hand- Never understood the appeal of the zombie genre. I prefer works with a smart, interesting antagonist.

      1. Zombies aren’t the antagonists, they are environment. Your fellow survivors are the antagonists.

        1. Often times for profoundly stupid reasons.

      2. I rather liked World War Z (the book, never saw the movie). It was more a what-if story about how different cultures and governments would react to things going pear-shaped rapidly than it was zombie/horror.

        1. Great book, didn’t care for the film.

          1. Max Brooks nailed the narrative structure for oral histories perfectly. It tickled me in the place that my coursework in historiography did.

      3. I loved Zombieland becuase it was a video game styled movie, and it didn’t take itself too seriously.

        Can’t get into the other Zombie stuff.

    4. The zombie genre is pretty tapped out, like the vampire genre.

      The Walking Dead was a fresh idea when the comic debuted because few fictions had actually grappled with the implications of living after the initial zombie uprising was complete, but both the comic and the show were a victim of their own success and have outlived their natural narrative arc.

      There is also an economic reason in that zombie movies–like exorcism and haunted house movies–are cheap to make with new camera technologies, and we are in a severe middling-movie drought where most movies are either lavish blockbusters or cheapies just looking to make their money back +50%.

    5. check out Shaun of the Dead – a British horror comedy Zombie Fest!

    1. Liberal Party of 1930, platform published 1931. Legalize Beer! You can look it up on Google News and buy it at Bookfinder.com… But the looters have gone to great lengths to suppress meaningful mention of the word “liberal” as of 1932. That was the year God’s Own Prohibitionists adopted Adolf Hitler’s use of the word as an expectorating pejorative.

  4. This guy lost me around the time he said “As a libertarian Democrat.” Huh wha? I think his diagnosis of the problems with the Republican party was fairly accurate, but his distillation of the Democrats left much to be desired. Then, I saw that he’s a Democrat, and isn’t really all that interested in creating new, more powerful 3rd, 4th, or 5th parties… only trying to create a better Dem one.

    No thanks.

    1. I definitely raised my eyebrow at his overly simplistic definition of the alt-right. Much of the conversation around here lately has been about how hard it is to pin down exactly what the alt-right is, and how big a portion of it is really neo-nazi.

      1. alt-right is whatever the left wing wants it to be for the purpose of demonizing anyone for anything at the time of said demonizing.
        All current labels are so fuzzy as to be meaningless. The only distinction of location on the political spectrum is personal freedom .vs government control.

      2. Yeah he had me until the alt-right nonsense. The witch hunt against Bannon is ridiculous. I don’t necessarily like the guy but he is not a racist, anti-semite, homophobe. The left is simply scared shitless of the man because he outsmarted the fuck out of them and will continue to do so. Not that it is that hard.

  5. Bad analogy. Zombies have brains and also crave brains. The current system has neither element present.

  6. There’s this thing called single member districts.

    Duverger’s law


    If and when the Libertarian platform is enacted, it will be adopted by one of the two major parties–much like FDR lifted the 1928 Socialist Party platform.

    The reason the two major parties are in such disarray is two-fold.

    1) Progressives and social justice warriors chasing the traditional party base out of the Democratic party.

    All those white, blue collar, middle class people who voted for Trump in Wisconsin, Michigan, Ohio, and Pennsylvania have been Democrat demographics since FDR’s time–with a short vacation for Ronald Reagan a la “Reagan Democrats”.

    When the white, blue collar, middle class favored Reagan over Carter and Mondale, it was for the same reason. The Democrats had become so infatuated with minority causes–civil rights, illegal aliens, feminism, etc.–and began demonizing blue collar, middle class whites for all those problems.

    They came back was because Bill Clinton convinced them he was different from those liberals from back in the ’70s. He executed a retard to show that he was tough on crime. He lived by mottos like “It’s the economy, Stupid!”.

    If and when the Democratic base retakes the party back from progressives and social justice warriors (who routinely demonize the very white, blue collar, middle class voters they need to win), the Democratic party will become a threat again.

    1. FDR’s party lifted the 1930 Liberal Party platform plank to modify then repeal the Volstead Act, then repeal the 18th Amendment. That–and God’s Own Prohibitionists shooting men, women, children and dogs in the back to keep beer and wine classed as Second-Amendment and asset-forfeiture federal felonies–was what made FDR President For Life. US voters are trapped, by the Nixon law paying off the media since 1971, in an endless Groundhog Day loop alternating between prohibitionist Christian National Socialist Hitlerism and pseudoscientific lay Stalinism. The Kleptocracy has no use for any non-looter alternative, but the Kleptocracy and the voters are not the same thing.

  7. 2) The Republican Party has been overrun with disaffected traditional Democrats.

    Same story.

    If and when the Democrats exorcise the progressives and social justice warriors from their house, we’ll see the parties regain their composure because of single member districts and Duverger’s law.

    They may have to lose another election or two before that happens, and, unfortunately for the Democrats, Trump and Bannon look like they know what they’re doing.

  8. When you actually want Episiarch around – and think about the depraved desparation that entails – he isn’t.

    1. I made him tell the story at least twice. Lemme see if I can dig it up.

        1. That is fucking great. And my God is Terry Micheal a moron. He really seems not to grasp the concept of revealed preference versus stated preference. This entire article is an exposition of all of the bad thinking that can occur when someone doesn’t understand that.

          1. Hey, he calls himself a libertarian Democrat. That’s good enough for Reason!

        2. Fucking priceless. I miss Epi. How did he earn the ire of Terry Michael?

          1. How did he earn the ire of Terry Michael?

            Probably just by being Epi.

  9. Huh. One of those zombies seems to be squatting in an awfully high number of state legislatures, governor’s mansions and both houses of Congress. Sure, the Elephant herd generally sucks (but they do have Paul, Amash, Massie, etc) – but if you think they will get rousted out by raising an army of Millennials, good luck to ye.

  10. The zombies are dead. Bring in the clowns!

    1. Don’t bother. You’re here.

      1. Let me entertain you, let me make you smile. 🙂

  11. Shambling undead two party candidates: 127 million votes.
    Libertarian undead candidate: 4 million votes.

    1. Four million spoiler votes pack the law-changing clout of not just the entire State of Virginia with its 13 electoral votes, but all of at least 24 million votes wasted on shape-shifting actors hired by the looter Kleptocracy to help their cronies rob the Treasury. To the Kleptocracy you have to have about half the votes to change the laws. Hence, the small party counts that passed an income tax (6x), made beer a felony (36x) or turned the Dems into a Carbon-tax Econazi party (5.5x) had the multiplied effect of 50% of the popular vote, for they sure as hell changed laws. The rest is fractions and proportions.
      Light beer became a federal felony for nearly 14 years because of 1.4% of the vote!

  12. On the other hand, two parties is a 100% improvement over California and Chicago.

  13. Yawn… another mouthpiece for the looter media here to explain to us rubes why altruistic, force-initiating Hitlerism and Stalinism are STILL the only game in town. But with unverifiable ballots counted by the Nixon-subsidized looter Kleptocracy, there is probably some truth to their whistling in the dark.

  14. This is such a ridiculous and unsubstantiated oversimplification I don’t know where to begin.

    if this was just about elected officials you would have been safer. But on the Republican side there is a large segment of people desperate to do the right thing continually held hostage by the party leaders like McConnell comma threatening to withhold fundraising, saying play ball with us or we will yank all of your funding for the next election. And without a public profile and constant media whoring they are absolutely unable to swim against that current.

    I believe there is a segment of people like that in the Democratic party as well, as evidenced by The Challenge to Nancy Pelosi, even if it was a token effort. unfortunately a lot of the good ones seem to have been wiped out by the Republican hide as victims of democratic tone deaf policy.

    In any case the parties are completely non responsive to their voters, as evidenced by the massive swell of registered independents and people leaving the parties. They have both become corporate shills and slaves to Super Pacs comma billionaire donors, and special interests. Nobody more so than the Democrats and how beholden they are to George Soros and Tom steyer and the Bevy of radical organizations they have founded to fund in perpetuity the asinine agenda that will continue to dominate the party to the detriment of serious arguments that Democrats once used to make.

  15. Mind you, when I say serious, I mean simply more plausible as opposed to the backed up sewer pipe that let loose since 2006. In any case I think the only way that there is going to be a serious breakthrough is finding a more efficient way to educate voters that both parties are systematically bankrupting the country and routinely robbing Peter to pay Paul the donor. There is no way to educate everybody on Austrian or even Chicago economics, it just must be a simple demonstration of how the political system distract from gross incompetence and economic disaster through pedantic exploitation of social issues through the media. voters don’t have the attention span for serious arguments.

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  17. “Start with choosing an institutional party chairman or chairwoman who understands we are now less than the sum of our parts. We are nearly dead. We’re all messed up.”
    Too late, she’s back!
    (and libertarian democrat is an oxymoron; you either believe in individual freedom, or government control)

  18. For better or for worse (yes, it’s for worse) the shambling zombie is going to continue shambling for the foreseeable future. But this is a good, succinct, slightly cynical analysis of the two parties and their divisions.

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