19 September 2014

Had someone asked me ten years ago by what mechanism I might realize my long-held dream of a Third Major Party, my reply would have sounded alot like Facebook: Some kind of internet-based (thus coast-to-coast) free, un-censored, totally interconnected website whereby left-leaning people might join together, progressive ideas might flourish, the corrupt might be exposed, and truth, sweet truth, might prevail!



Such a mechanism, I mused, would surely allow We The Hundred Million Left-outs to circumvent the two government-endorsed parties and easily organize a third one - an American Progressive Party! - the left-of-center major party that should have been with us all along but, strangely, has not.



And with both Democrats and Republicans darting ever farther right, "Now!" (meaning anynow between this now and ten nows ago) would be the perfect time to plant the cleats, cut left and score this lofty goal...if only we had such a mechanism....sigh...



Now, of course, we do.



So during the commemorations of 9/11's tenth anniversary - a decade of bi-partisan complicity in the worst public policy our nation has ever faced - I facebook-searched "American Progressive Party" and guess what? There's not one, but two!



Facebook, created 2009, has some nice blurbage supporting basic progressive ideals such as the living wage, no dumbass wars, social justice, health care as a human right and, wow, 7,282 likes, me being the 7,283rd.



Their full platform summary reads as follows:



"We of The American Progressive Party seek government accountability, an end to wars of aggression, a vibrant economy including living wage jobs, sustainable environments, social justice and constitutional rights for all.



"We are the party of common sense and patriotism. We believe that we must unite to progress as a nation. Favorable treatment for narrow corporate interests must be abolished. We must restore the rule of law to ensure that all Americans are viewed as equal under the law; no more restrictions on rights based on gender or self-identity. End to wars of choice. We are one nation, each of us Americans, and each of us with inalienable rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.



"Mission: To unite all Americans around traditional American progressive ideals. Ideals of equal protection which ensure that every American can find fulfillment and live as he or she sees fit, while maintaining a sense of community responsibility."



Counting you, cause you're either with us or the terrorists, we're at 7,284.



Next, I checked out the party's - I mean, our party's - blog. Latest blogspot entry: 2007.



Finally I scrolled and trolled the wall, shooting a request at like-minded progs to please friend me and to visit freepress.org. The wall is fairly active both with official Progressive Party posts and Prog Party fan chat. Not alot of prog-nostication on nuts and bolts plans to swell the ranks, tho.



In my party wall posts I asked about fielding candidates and whether each state has some kind of coordinator. Still waiting to hear back. Not much detail on their Notes and Info pages. Not many photos, though the logo looks okay and they do use the bull moose for a mascot, shades of Teddy Roosevelt's Bull Moose Progressive Party which could have been 100 on August 6, 2012. And a bull moose is way cooler than a donkey or elephant.



Ok then.



Considering the sheer numbers who actually favor the ideals of The American Progressive Party over Big Neither, 7,284 is at least four zeros too short of the mark. Why?



Well, the party's blog stoppage in 2007 coincides with the rise of Barack Obama and the flow of progressive energies into his democratic campaign. Looking back to the summer of 2008, recalling throngs of libs at our town's UNCW rally, cheering Obama and his call to end the war, feed babies, go solar, etc., that's understandable.



As with Kerry, Gore, Dukakis, whomever...we were led to believe one more time that progressivism could occur within the two-party system by accessing the framework of the less-conservative party.



That would explain a lull in third party momentum back then, but fast forward to 2010-2011 and with both party's approval ratings at all-time lows, debt service eating a quarter of every collected tax dollar, endless war - and facebook the talk of the world - it would seem opportune for a viable third party to "go viral!", even if just a movement not yet running races. So why not?



Perhaps because the entities who prop up and profit from the two-party system fear precisely that, and engineered the Tea Party movement to divert populist unrest from legitmate third party organizing. Share that, why dontcha!



There is also another Progressive Party on Facebook, (facebook.com/progressiveparty), whose platform is more fully articulated, but this successor to Teddy Roosevelt's third party bid is six zeroes short of recruitng the total U.S..progressive base...78 Likes, and Chris Bifani makes 79.



Our platform is as follows:



"The Progressive Party encompasses a social democratic and populist platform. The parties main focus is advocacy for a single-payer (or Localized Multi-payer) health care system through an expansion of the states Medicaid program to universal coverage. Other major policy platforms are renewable energy programs such as a high-speed rail system and a phase-out of nuclear energy, prison reforms to reduce the states prison population, ending the War on Drugs and programs to abolish homelessness, primarily through funding into Section 8 housing to remove all waitlist, repealing No Child Left Behind and ending the focus on standardized testing in the school system.



"The party also has an anti-war stance, advocating for the national guard to be restricted from engaging in non-domestic war zones, an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and opposes all preemptive strikes. The party is very supportive of LGBT rights, and members of the party were involved in the legalization of gay marriage in the Vermont.



Economically, the party adheres to a Social Market Economic structure and also calls for converting the minimum wage to a living wage, having the economy focus on small and local businesses, empowerment of worker cooperatives and publicly-owned companies as democratic alternatives to multi-national corporations and to decentralize the economy, for the strengthening of state law to protect the right to unionize, for implementing a progressive income tax and repealing the Capital Gains Tax Exemption and residential education property tax and all trade to be subject to international standards on human rights. The party is also critical of absolute Privatization."



Good words, good intentions, HUGE potential market and all the crayons and paper we need...anyone can jump on these pages and connect, converge, converse and construct.



Yet here we are ten years after, all-almost-8,000-of-us...and the hundred-million-rest-of-us haven't got a clue.



---------------------


Christopher Bifani is an artist, writer and musician in Wilmington, North Carolina.