The new range of acceptable political discourse

“The 2012 presidential election’s battle lines are now sharper and the choices more vivid than at any time since at least the mid-1960s,” begins David Lightman, writing for McClatchy News. Further on, he explains, “Voters will not only select Mitt Romney or Barack Obama, they’’ll send a message about the role of government that could reverberate and reshape how people pay taxes, get help when times are tough and manage their health care.”[1]

As factions in the U.S. government appear increasingly polarized, mostly in fact on the basis of party affiliation, such hyperbole is, perhaps, understandable. Howard Zinn, however, explained that the genius of the two-party system was that it passes a false dilemma as the range of acceptable political discourse,[2] and, expressing disgust, the authors of the Political Compass write, “This is a US election that defies logic and brings the nation closer towards a one-party state masquerading as a two-party state.”[3] Their current chart (figure 1) of U.S. presidential candidates illustrates just how narrow the range of acceptable political discourse has become. It is, in this chart, the range between Barack Obama in blue, and Mitt Romney in red.

The US Presidential Election 2012
Fig. 1. Political Compass of U.S. Presidential Candidates, September 2, 2012

While Obama and Romney are roughly a point apart, the entire range of the political compass ranges from -10 to +10 on two axes. If you participate in the U.S. electoral system, which I consider a fraud, and if you vote for one of the major two party candidates, you are endorsing this narrowly constricted range of discourse.


  1. Political Compass of U.S. Presidential Candidates.[4]
  1. [1]David Lightman, “Presidential campaign offers sharpest choice since the 1960s,” McClatchy News, September 6, 2012,
  2. [2]Howard Zinn, A People’s History of the United States: 1492-Present (New York: HarperPerennial, 2005).
  3. [3]Political Compass, “The US Presidential Election 2012,” September 2, 2012,
  4. [4]Political Compass, “The US Presidential Election 2012.”

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