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America's Coming Political Realignment

With John McCain nearly dividing the Republican Party, Pat Buchanan leaving that party to join the Reform Party and a growing dissatisfaction with the Democratic Party among those on the left, a political realignment may be on its way. The question is no longer only will it occur but increasingly when and how it will occur. And what will it mean for Blacks?

At present the political realignment would not necessarily benefit Blacks. That is because most of the clamoring for change inside of the two-party system is happening among other voting blocs and interests groups - the majority of whom are White. Any realignment in response to the recent groundswell of calls for "reform" would leave Blacks pretty much where there are - with Democrats taking their vote for granted and Republicans ignoring it. This is because of two factors 1) the most active group of Black voters seems to not want a two-party competition for its vote and 2) The leaders of the "reform" movements are not actively or effectively seeking the Black Electorate to join them as they wage war against the two-party system.

Unless either or both of these two scenarios change, the Black community will be left behind in any paradigm shift that occurs in the American Electorate. With the Black community so wedded to the Democratic Party, the best option under the status quo would be for Blacks to demand more from the Democratic Party than they currently do and to actively seek a prominent role in shaping the party's agenda rather than the current approach of rallying behind whatever policies are dictated from the party's establishment and the Clinton-Gore administration's top advisers.

One person who rejects the latter approach and hopes to see the Black Electorate engage Independent and "reform" politics is Dr. Lenora Fulani. For years she has advocated that Independent third-party politics would be much more beneficial for the Black Electorate than the current approach of undying loyalty to the Democratic Party. She recently penned a piece entitled "Talkin' Left/Right Coalitions" which appeared at and which vividly depicts the current fault lines and shifts developing in the broader American electorate during this election year and the very real potential for a political realignment of the two-party system.

She clearly demonstrates that the center of American politics is a merger between those on the left and right who are being ignored by the two-party system and those who do not claim either party and who do not vote at all. Her analysis is thought provoking and deserves careful consideration by the Black Electorate whether Democrat, Republican or Independent. Here is Dr. Fulani's piece. When reading her piece think over where Blacks may or may not fit in all of this. You can visit her website at

Talkin' Left/Right Coalitions

By Dr. Lenora Fulani

A lot of the talk on the political pundit circuit lately is about how independent presidential candidates will affect the campaigns of the Democrat and the Republican.

This spin cycle began when Forbes magazine speculated that, contrary to conventional wisdom, conservative Pat Buchanan may injure Al Gore more than George Bush in November by drawing rank and file labor voters to the Reform Party ticket because of his positions on trade and globalism.

Then there is speculation about the extent to which Buchanan will peel away hard-core pro-lifers if Bush chooses a pro-choice running mate. Bill Kristol, editor of the Weekly Standard, said, "Five to eight percent of the voters will defect on the pro-life issue, and Pat Buchanan is there."

At the same time Ralph Nader, the Green Party presidential candidate who was profiled in the New York Times last week, is widely regarded as a left candidate who will pull votes from Gore. Commenting on a poll by the Zogby Group that showed Nader at 5 percent and Buchanan at 3 percent, the Times added -- perhaps to comfort two-party enthusiasts who are miffed that there are any independents running at all -- "... an aggressive Nader campaign could entirely offset advantages Mr. Gore might gain from Mr. Buchanan's candidacy, which is expected to siphon votes from the apparent Republican nominee, Gov. George W. Bush."

These are certainly interesting -- if highly speculative -- analyses. But they miss what is, in the long run, a far more important story. That is the story of the impact of the independent presidential candidates on the independent movement which seeks to supplant bipartisan special interest control of government with a multi-party grassroots democratic system.

At one level, Buchanan and Nader have straightforward goals. Buchanan wants to get the Reform Party nomination so he'll have $12.5 million to get his message out in November. Nader wants to get his message out and poll above 5 percent so that the next time around, the Greens will have $12 million to spend.

But at another level, these independent candidacies have put a potential realignment of American politics on the table. As candidates of the left and right, respectively, who share a remarkable number of positions on trade, globalization, foreign policy and political reform, they popularize the notion of a left/right coalition as the base of a future majority party in America.

While Buchanan may be more forthright in his left/right efforts (by seeking my endorsement for example) when the ballots are counted in November, we may well be looking at 15 million total votes cast for Nader and Buchanan. In other words, we'll see 15 million Americans from the left and the right who want an alternative to the current globalist bipartisan system. That's a sign there is a basis for a long-term left/right independent coalition.

Will the left and right come together? Alexander Cockburn, the leftist arch-muckraker, was a guest on my weekly TV show last week and had some insightful comments about the potential for left/right coalitions. He also has some acid observations about the extent to which the traditional left -- in the face of that potential -- keeps its followers in the fold by terrifying them with a fantasized picture of the power of the right.

In a dialogue with my co-host Fred Newman, Cockburn observed that the left, often in conjunction with the U.S. Justice Department, "cultivate(s) this image of an America where there is an enormously powerful right waiting like a panther to pounce. It's drivel. But the minute you have a possibility of unusual alliances, of getting behind the theatre, the mime of the American politics, they invoke this bogey."

The left is conservative in the extreme when it comes to left/right coalitions. And Cockburn is one of the powerful voices on the American left who see the "creative" use of left/right coalitions offering an opportunity to go beyond the corruption of current day politics. Referring to Buchanan having reversed his pro-war posture of the 1960's and 1970's, Cockburn said,

To the extent that Buchanan's come off that position, then congratulations to him ... look, he is against the sanctions in Iraq that are killing all those Iraqi children. Some fellow on the left protested to me about my being at that conference (the conference at which Cockburn, Buchanan and I all spoke). I said, "Al Gore is in favor of sanctions, Bill Clinton is in favor of sanctions, Madeleine Albright is in favor of sanctions. Pat Buchanan is not in favor of sanctions. So I'm happy to be at a conference with him."

The traditional right, like the traditional left, opposes left/right coalitions, too. In last week's issue of the National Review, Ramesh Ponnuru, a senior editor and the author of a left-baiting broadside against Pat Buchanan's move to the Reform Party entitled, "Conservative No More," pooh-poohed the notion that America could go beyond left and right, dismissing it as "something pretty much only said by liberals and leftists."

Ponnuru's observation, however, misses a new turn of events in U.S. politics -- namely, how some conservatives are now the ones raising cutting edge policy issues that have been abandoned by the left and liberals.

Cockburn noted this on my show in a discussion of the U.S.-led war in the Balkans: "... a lot of the opposition to the war and the most spirited opposition to the war came from what would convincingly be regarded as the right. Of course, the center, so to speak, the liberals, had been the most prominent faction calling for war, calling for bombing, as they have called for other interventions in recent times like the Somalian intervention and Iraq. They are the drum beaters for war." columnist Justin Raimondo echoes Cockburn's sentiments in a recent column entitled, "Who Won the Cold War -- The Answer May Surprise You." Raimondo wrote,

With the end of the Cold War, and the implosion of Communism, the political landscape in the U.S. is undergoing a seismic shift. The Left, which had once been antiwar and pro-individual rights (at least in theory) has been infected with a mania for militarism (albeit in the name of "humanitarianism") and a penchant for punishing free expression that it disapproves of (i.e. "hate speech"). The Right, on the other hand, once traditionally the bastion of warmongering and authoritarian rule, has been shifting -- almost overnight, in historical terms -- into a movement that was not only anti-government but also militantly antiwar.

The official left traded Democratic Party support for an identity-politics agenda -- in exchange for giving up the ghost on anti-interventionism. The official right traded its opposition to intervention and big government for a full mobilization to contain communism.

But now elements of the right and elements of the left are finding they have more and more in common with one another, most particularly in their opposition to globalism, war and political corruption. The Buchanan and Nader campaigns will be one measure of that new compatibility. And they will give us a look at the future of the left/right coalition and the majoritarian independent party it could produce.

Thursday, April 27, 2000

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The views and opinions expressed herein by the author do not necessarily represent the opinions or position of or Black Electorate Communications.

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