Our problem is bigger than a Massachusetts senate race

A symbol for independent candidates.

With Scott Brown’s win and Martha Coakley’s concession Republicans are rejoicing that the 60 vote, filibuster proof lead in the senate is gone and with it, they believe, Obamacare. Brown defeated Coakley to win the seat vacated at the death of Edward Kennedy giving the northern state its first Democratic senator in 31 years. One Facebook comment read, “Welcome Massachusetts to the United States!” with reams of comments affirming a smart decision made by the state and enough tweeting to temporarily stifle the world’s largest micro-blogging website.

By conservatives, this is largely seen as a national repudiation of President Obama’s policies, but some liberals are claiming that this means change is not happening fast enough so things need to be speeded up. Eternal house fixture Barney Frank (D-MA) recently stated the need to remove the filibuster law to keep Republicans from delaying legislation that he views as important, ie, healthcare. Video of the Frank audio:

As celebration over Scott Brown rises from some quarters, moaning elsewhere and, perhaps, incense from yet other points, I’m thinking that we need to realize something.

We have a bigger problem. Much bigger.

Our problem is that we live in a country with a two-party dominant political system and each of those parties endemically places its own interest above the interest of the country. Democrats want what Democrats want and Republicans want what Republicans want and never the twain shall meet. Unless there is a terrorist attack of course and, then, there is temporary uniting, until the ensuing war lasts a little too long and, well, all bets are off.

When America reaches this point, as it does periodically no matter who is in the White House, there is a feeling of exasperation with Washington. A feeling that no matter who is sent to the hill the outcome will be the same.

Two quick examples: Obama is catching flack from the right for attempting to drastically expand the size and scope of the federal government (which he is), while Bush 43 was excoriated from the left for drastically expanding the size and scope of the federal government (which he did). Obama is not listening to the wishes of the people regarding healthcare; Bush did not listen to the wishes of the people regarding the first TARP bailout. Both of their concerns were more aligned with their perspective party’s dominance than with the good of the country.

Neither party knows what they are doing, neither party knows what needs to be done, neither party has the guts to make hard decisions. So the country is left with a government full of non-leaders (Obama, Bush) and pseudo-leaders (Pelosi, Reid, Lott, et al) and disinterested people. A government ostensibly of the people and for the people has been all but disowned by the people.

When we reach this point, the question always arises, “Why do people with common sense, business sense and economic sense not run for office?” I think there are two reasons. The everyday American has no desire for every nook and cranny of their lives to be turned inside out by 1,000 reporters all looking for the next Watergate or Monicagate, so they do not place themselves in the public light. A second reason is that the average person does not want to run for office is no one wants to be associated with a loser, which is how the government is perceived. The US congress regularly gets approval ratings that would make Hugo Chavez blush with pride.

Thus we are stuck with two underperforming parties, both consumed with their own agendas to the detriment of the country, together constituting one vast underperforming, soggy-bottom government.

My thought is that only independents will be able to turn the country around. 40% of the country vote for the Democrat in every presidential election and 40% of the country vote for the Republican in every presidential election. This means that every president is elected by 20% of the voters-the independents, who vote on the issues and the individual rather than a party.

A rise of independent representatives and senators will force more dialogue and the kind of compromise that might actually see meaningful, common sense legislation passed by government. So what if things move slower? Common sense by common people will not produce bills 2,000 pages long and will actually be read by those voting. Who knows, they might even listen to the people who sent them to Washington in the first place. Independents, free from party loyalty, would be better equipped to do what is best for the country, or to govern for the people, since they are actually of the people. (I’m not talking about “Independent Democrats” like Joe Lieberman, who is an oxymoron.)

We the people, however, are part of the problem since we are afraid to go the independent route. As a result we get senators and representatives who would be more at home with personal ambulatory care than national healthcare (see the twin cases of the vegetative Robert Byrd and catatonic Strom Thurmond). States keep sending the same useless, ineffective people to Washington because of the benefits such longevity provides for the home folks. Roads, bridges, business benefits, etc, all play into this tragicomedy that we call the U. S. government.

I think that independence is the way to go for the foreseeable future. I’m not under any illusion that the mid-term elections will see 100 independents sent to the house and 20 or so sent to the senate, since, as noted above, people are loathe to run under such a title. Instead, we will get an influx of Republicans, see a closer balance of power and return to the same ineffectual leadership, only more so.

So, who’ll run under the purple “I”?

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Marty Duren

Just a guy writing some things.

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