Economic Crisis and Two Party Politics

The current financial crisis and various reactions to it across the globe can provide useful ways to see how progressive and radical messages have been taken up by the wider public and in what ways the message needs to improve.

As Cockburn and St Clair write at Counterpunch.org, people’s anger and insecurity due to the economy  "..escaped the notice of the well-paid campaign consultants running the McCain campaign – that America was engulfed in the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression. There was a total disconnect between the financial hurricane hitting America and some archaeology about a Sixties radical sitting with Obama on the board of the Woods Fund…"

 While Cockburn and St. Clair relate the point back to the failure of McCain’s campaign tactics in the election, I think it highlights some trends of the crisis itself.

Bush and subsequently McCain failed as they were seen as creating, perpetuating or indifferent to the current economic crumble. Here in Australia, the crisis has occurred after the election of Kevin Rudd, who promised a spring clean after 12 years of conservative, neo-liberal rule. Dissatisfaction and anger with the current crisis has been levelled at the new government despite its (relatively) more socially concerned approach.

While political and economic leaders are responsible for the decisions and policies that has lead to this current turmoil, the scapegoating of those in power or seeking election highlights where our arguments have not taken hold.

The wider population have a general idea that the system is flawed, that it favours a few, that it’s corrupt etc. While the current rhetoric and popular outcry during the crisis has supported this with calls to end the greed, to regulate and so forth, where and to whom this rhetoric is directed shows where our message has failed.

Popular frustration and anger continues to manifest itself via party politics. Via the two party political systems that most free market economies have. Hence what swept Obama to power in the United States may end up removing Democrat equivalent Labor in Australia and the UK for example.

So while people can identify that greed and uncontrolled corporate action are causing their suffering and damaging the social and ecological environment, the methods of expression (and hoped for solution) continue to restrict and deny fundamental change.

Dissent is funnelled into the confines and workings of the system, open to manipulation for political gain. This can then feed a cycle where disappointment and hope are preyed upon by dominant political parties at each successive turn of the electoral merry-go-round.

All this points to how can we refine our message- that not only is the current economic system fundamentally flawed and deserving of critique, but to truly change it you must move beyond just relying on politicians and parties.


We seem to need to catch up to the wider population and provide means that start breaking the circuit of current representative politics and its appearance as the only venue for change. To work with them to develop means to effectively voice their concerns. We need to discuss and develop means to break out of the tunnel vision created by two-party politics and end our perceived dependency on it in addressing our real needs.



Please comment and leave suggestions as to ideas, existing efforts etc so we can start a discussion on some of these ideas



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