Coalition Building – Federalism vs Self-Determinism

Much of the symbolism and metaphor of this site has been drawn from federalism. Old and outdated methods of doing things must be left behind, but that which is old, and still true, must abide. The actual function of federalism, though not necessarily the concept, is as old as the arbiter, the mediator, the courtroom judge, in whom two conflicting parties willingly invested the power to decide over their mutual affairs, in order to avoid might makes right. Though an old idea, it remains the only means by which peace is possible. Peace is not an absence of war or conflict, but the presence of mutually agreed upon and functioning mechanisms for resolving conflict and for achieving positive goals. It is the antithesis to self-determinism.

The proposal for a People’s Coalition itself is a suggestion to federate the third parties to achieve their specifically defined common goals, centered around a Coalition Platform. All things unrelated to the common goal are left to the respective parties and organizations, freeing them up to focus more intensely on these at a more fundamental and local level. Thus, coalitions increase their powers to achieve the goal of the union, while also gaining new ability to achieve all other goals not related to that union.

Federalism works. Parties, as isolated and competing entities, now vie for support, membership, media recognition, etc. What no one of them is saying is that this is actually survival of the fittest. That kind of competition might be healthy in another world and were we not in a crisis. Right now, this is nothing but infighting, mild and benign as that may seem, and in the very presence of a devouring, double headed serpent!


In pushing for Coalition, the People’s Coalition has heard on several occasions the same refrain, “We are an established party. We don’t need a coalition. We are already doing that. Join us.” Everyone wants to be in the driver’s seat but few are asking why the members of other parties are not joining this or that party.

One size does not fit all, and none can expect to convert the entire membership of other parties over to one’s own. It would be like Californians expecting New Yorkers to all move to California in order to enjoy the fruits of the state. It just won’t happen. The population of New York can however join them in union.

It is true that in this Coalition, the parties will have to give up some of their power to determine their own courses. This is the great barrier to all such coalitions. It always is. It was for the 13 colonies, which, after the Revolutionary War made an attempt at a loose union of self-determined states. And each, determining its own course, went to war by various means, refusing to recognize the currencies of the others, threatening with soldiers on one another’s border, erecting tariffs against one another’s goods, etc. Just as nation states do today. They nearly went to war with one another with bullets because, in self-determined fashion, they had no mediating power higher than themselves to resolve conflicts.

Coalition As Federalism

This proposal is not the loose union of self-determinism, but one of federal union around a political platform of mutually agreed values. It is this concept of federalism that allows for unity without uniformity. With federalism, there is no “get in line” mentality. And in fact, agreeing on just a few essential points together actually grants us more freedom to disagree in all other areas, yet without might makes right in play.

What federalism does is clearly define the roles of entities in relation to one another. By giving up some power to decide into the hands of the collective or common body, each group then liberates itself for further action.

I bears repeating. We are talking here about uniting parties around a core set of values for political action. Everyone wants clean air and water, and so the progressive third parties to the left of the Democrats ought to be able to unite around this core value, stating it clearly as a common area to fight for. Everyone wants good wages and working conditions, and so, the various parties and organizations ought to come together and define in the coalition platform definite goals for minimum wage and the strengthening of unions.

It will always be so that a plurality of voices is noise without some greater defining goal that turns them into a chorus. Plurality in and of itself is not music.

Third parties can and sometimes will unite to enhance their unique potentials, and in unison further those ends that they discover they overlap on. But until they do, they will continue to attempt to drive their own respective cars, this one without gas, that one without wheels, the other without sparkplugs. All with the same roadmap, and none to get us there.

The hour is striking.

People's Coalition federalism


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