The Hatfield’s and McCoy’s…
The Axis and the Allies…
Fox News and CNN…
The Skeksis and The Mystics
Republicans and Democrats.
There’s a stalemate in America government between the two major political parties. There’s an uneasy, often vitriolic detente displayed – much to the thinly disguised glee and enjoyment of the news networks – as loudly as possible for the benefit of their wealthy donors and their own oversized egos. It’s turned our government into political theater, a macabre, grotesque shoutfest mockery of what the wigged framers of the constitution had in mind. It has become “government” in name only. It’s an equal opportunity for getting nothing done at the highest levels of government.
With an equal amount (+/- 30%) of registered voters in America calling themselves either “Republican” or “Democrat” and committed to voting that way (even if their candidate holds up that blind autistic child, the one that the campaign staff carted up onstage with the candidate, in order to shield himself from the lightning bolt arcing down from the heavens), we are left an impotent and ineffectual government that will continue to be elected into power. In this era of partisan politics, with each side calling the other the problem, we have entered a new age of Mutually Assured Destruction – a behavior you get when your elected leaders refuse to work with the “other side” based on either a purely sophomoric view that the other side’s ideology is wrong, or a juvenile need to make sure that the other side doesn’t get any credit for solving the issues. Wahhhhh!
Traditionally, stereotypically, “historically” (whatever you want to call it) the two major political parties are known for certain ideologies and have certain voters who vote for them. These voters once based their vote on what their candidate stood for but have since primarily voted as a result of their hatred for the “other side’s” candidate, not so much what the candidate stands for:
- Republican: (as seen by the Democratic voter): White, rich, wears a monocle and uses a cane as HE (no women here) climbs to the top on the back of his workers, entering his limo, lights his cigar with a $100 bill, loves guns, lots of guns, hates a woman’s right to choose, is Christian, and “shoots first, asks questions later.”
- Famous Republicans – Abraham Lincoln, Teddy Roosevelt, Lyndon Johnson, Ronald Reagan, Mel Gibson, Sarah Palin, FOX News, Montgomery Burns. (amazing, the evolution, isn’t it)
- Democrat: (as seen by the Republican voter): Non-whites, godless, lazy/freeloaders, elitists, baby killers, socialists, Muslim* – new addition, whiners and criers, gays.
- Famous Democrats – I honestly looked for non-celebrities here, but other than John F. Kennedy, all I saw were screen shots of celebrity photos. And Sponge Bob. (sigh)
The “Rest of Us”
Caught up in this ideological war, are the roughly 30% to 38% of Americans who call themselves “independent.” This is a higher percentage than call themselves “Republican” or “Democrat,” but as there is NO one main Independent Party that counts them all part of the same group, this number is highly diffused across too many parties to have any effect. (This is also probably a misnomer, as in this day and age, no one wants to offend anyone by stating their political beliefs out loud, they might believe that their “independent vote” won’t amount to much, or they “can’t bear to see that ____ candidate win.”)
True independents believe that the purpose of government is TO GOVERN FOR THE GOOD OF THE PEOPLE, not just to battle the other party; that a SMALL CENTRAL government IS good and STATES’ RIGHTS are more important; that because a small central government is best, that people get to CHOOSE how they conduct their lives in private; that everyone pays the same to live here; that those who do live here get all THE SAME RIGHTS as everyone else; that we live within our means and that taxes ARE those means; that economic development AND environmental/personal protections are not mutually exclusive, etc… The running theme here is logical, fair compromise.
(I profess that I was a Young Republican before attending the University of Wisconsin. It was a crazy liberal named Mark E., but more the lovely Diana, whom I took home from Democratic rally in 1988, who indoctrinated me into the Democratic Party. As I’ve grown, matured(?), and been educated, I’ve come to realize that I cannot be pigeon-holed and don’t have to pick just between Evil 1 or Evil 2.
First of all, there are only two (2 of 100) U.S. Senators and NO (0 of 435) U.S. Representatives that are “independent.” The U.S. has never had a politically independent President. How is that possible if 38% of the American electorate considers themselves “independent?”
Well, outside of the two major parties, look at the parties they have to choose from. There are approximately 38 highly unorganized “independent” political parties, most of whom apparently have poor PR departments. Most of them have also sprung up only after 1970, including: many parties with “Socialist” in the title, the obvious “American” parties and even fringe parties like the United States Marijuana Party and the United States Pirate Party. Clearly, they haven’t had the time to get their message across or land huge political donors…
As candidates flee to the edges of the political spectrum in order to shore up their “bases,” it’s clearly now time for a legitimate Third Party to step up into the middle of American politics, to fill the void by those who apparently despise using logic and compromise and who are afraid to stand up and lead the way. With both “right” and “left” wing connotations eliciting grimaces from the electorate, what’s wrong with a party that exists in the middle? Isn’t that where the strongest part of ANYTHING is?
I don’t advocate for one political party or the other. If you agree with everything that one of the two major political parties believe in, then by all means I cannot dissuade you from voting for their candidate. I DO advocate for the smart, logical and willing voter out there to at least take a look at the major third parties out there, including the Libertarian Party, and their candidate for president, Gary Johnson – a former governor of New Mexico and a pretty smart guy if his appearance on The Daily Show was any indication. You can see it here: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-june-5-2012/gary-johnson. I’m not sure if I believe in everything they say, but I am at least willing to take a look.
“Benefits” of a Legitimate Third Party at the National Level
With both sides of “the aisle” poised to block any bill or effort to effect change with the status quo in place, inserting a third party can actually accomplish a lot.
- They can mediate between the major parties as they (often) come to an impasse.
- They can bring to the political table new ideas and logical, fair voices.
- They can break voting ties by siding with one side or the other, hopefully with the understanding that they will in turn get support for their agenda later.
- They can restore faith in our government that the candidates actually listen to the voters and not their party whip or leader.
Where do I start? Third party marginalization is historically a central plank in any party’s value system and probably one of the only things that each side agrees on. Why would either side want to lose what power they have?
The Two Party System:
Consider “Simpsons Treehouse of Horror: VII” (1996!):
Kodos: It’s true, we are aliens. But what are you going to do about it? It’s a two-party system. You have to vote for one of us.
Man 1: He’s right, this is a two-party system.
Man 2: Well I believe I’ll vote for a third-party candidate.
Kang: Go ahead, throw your vote away.
The 15% Rule Regarding Presidential Debates
In 2000, the Commission on Presidential Debates (CREATED BY THE DEMOCRATIC AND REPUBLICAN PARTIES), ruled that a candidate for President of the United States must be polling at least 15% across five national polls in order to be part of the Nationally Televised Debates. It has nothing to do with whether or not he/she’s on THE BALLOT in all 50 states, as Gary Johnson – Libertarian, is. You just have to be liked by 15% of the polled voters. Um, stoners don’t answer polls by phone…
Probably the biggest obstacle is the damage that historical candidates themselves have done. Since John Anderson garnered 6.6% of the vote in the 1980 election and Ross Perot received 18.9%!!! in 1992 (only 8% in 1996), no candidate has gotten more than 1% of the vote since. Yet, Ralph Nader and other still tilt at the windmills, hoping to effect a change.
The independent movement is lost in the wilderness. It doesn’t have its Moses to lead them to a legitimate standing. People like Ron Paul, a Republican in name only, but more of a Libertarian, CAN and SHOULD sway their legions of voters to vote with their hearts and to elect people, not parties, to office. It’s a long road; the specter of having someone elected that you don’t like because you took a stand is a hard pill to swallow for 2, 4 or 6 years…
But, hopefully more people like me will pick up the cause and begin to change the system, to show that you don’t just have two choices, and that tilting at windmills is sometimes okay.
Now, I’m off to saddle up my horse…