As I prepare to go up to Rochester, NY [well, actually, it is 3:30 a.m., and I have just gotten off the phone with a Time Warner Cable techie who got me back on line, but us old guys get up a lot in the middle of the night], let me respond briefly on MurfMensch's comment about third parties. [Where do you folks get your internet names from?!] Briefly, he/she suggests taking seriously the idea of forming third parties, taking our lead from the familiar European and Asian model.
There is no question that third parties can exercise influence on policy, even though they cannot hope to win general elections, so long as some form of voting is adopted that gives such parties representation either at the Federal or State level. But the obstacles are enormous in America, as I am sure everyone understands. To win some sort of proportional representation at the national level would require a Constitutional amendment, which is just out of the question. State elections are governed by state law, a more feasible option. Each state has its own laws, so one would need a great deal of local expertise, which is tailored made for a movement organized on the internet. Could a left wing third party win a local election, or even a Congressional election? I don't know, but the existence of such a party would force the major parties to adjust in one way or another. There are, of course, several good examples of viable third parties at the state level, in New York and elsewhere.
The major problem all political parties face in the United States is generating the turnout of their supporters. Could an uncompromising leftwing third party with a serious agenda pull into the voting booths the supporters who polls show are out there? Very possibly.
I must say, I like the idea of starting a discussion in which it is not incumbent upon me to have all the answers -- unusual, for me, but rather relaxing. Let's keep talking about this and other ideas, and see where they take us.