“Our democracy is but a name. We vote? What does that mean? It means that we choose between two bodies of real, though not avowed, autocrats. We choose between Tweedledum and Tweedledee” — Helen Keller
From The Avocado Declaration, by Peter Camejo, written in Spring 2004 as he was running for vice president on the Green Party ticket, with Nader as presidential candidate. Camejo explains how real change in the US invariably originates from third parties and independent movements, and how the historic role of the Democratic Party has been to co-opt such change and render it harmless. Emphasis added.
Origins of the present two-party system
History shows that the Democrats and Republicans are not two counterpoised forces, but rather complementary halves of a single two-party system: “one animal with two heads that feed from the same trough.”
Since the Civil War a peculiar two-party political system has dominated the United States. Prior to the Civil War a two-party system existed which reflected opposing economic platforms. Since the Civil War a shift occurred. A two-party system remained in place but no longer had differing economic orientation. Since the Civil War the two parties show differences in their image, role, social base and some policies but in the last analysis, they both support essentially similar economic platforms.
For over 130 years the two major parties have been extremely effective in preventing the emergence of any mass political formations that could challenge their political monopoly. Most attempts to build political alternatives have been efforts to represent the interests of the average person, the working people. These efforts have been unable to develop. Both major parties have been dominated by moneyed interests and today reflect the historic period of corporate rule.
In this sense United States history has been different from that of any other advanced industrial nation. In all other countries multi-party systems have appeared and to one degree or another these countries have more democratic electoral laws and better political representation. In most other countries, there exist political parties ostensibly based on or promoting the interest of non-corporate sectors such as working people.
We don’t have a parliamentary system here. Under such systems, small parties can become part of the ruling coalition and thus have real power. But not here. Our system precludes it from happening. Instead, what we really have is “hard cop, soft cop,” with the Democratic Party being the soft cop, pretending to be understanding and wanting to be your pal. Don’t believe it.