Many years ago I worked at a company whose annual party was about like most, and not something I desired. No offense, but I prefer sober conversation. (Do not read “serious minded” as my intended meaning; read “undrunken.”)
Owing to my perceived lack of frivolity, my friend Bruce assigned me the nickname, “No Party Marty,” about which I’ve laughed many times.
This post is not about that kind of party.
The back and forth political debates in this 2016 presidential campaign remind me of the school president speeches in Napoleon Dynamite. Someone talks, someone dances, then the loudest applause wins.
I wish I could Vote for Pedro.The problem with our two-party dominant political system is each of those parties places its own interest above that of the country. Democrats want what Democrats want, Republicans want what Republicans want, and rarely the twain shall meet. Unless there is a terrorist attack of course, then there is temporary uniting until there are nits to be picked, and they divide quicker than queso at a Super Bowl party.
When America reaches this level of divisive, spit-spewing invective, finger jabbing, and name calling, as it does periodically no matter who is in the White House, there is a feeling of exasperation with Washington. It is understandable. No one likes an upset stomach. No matter who is sent to the hill the outcome will be the same, as will the smell. It feels like congressional approval is at an all-time low an all-time high amount of the time.
Quick examples: Obama consistently catches flack from the Right for drastically expanding the size and scope of the federal government (which he has), while Bush 43 was excoriated from the Left for drastically expanding the size and scope of the federal government (which he did). Obama scares gun owners to death; Bush scared abortion advocates to death. By the end of both their terms, members of their own parties did not know whether to embrace them, or condemn them, or act as if they had never met.
Arguably, neither party knows what they are doing, neither party knows what needs to be done. So the country is left with a government full of non-leaders and pseudo-leaders (Pelosi, Reid, Boehner, McConnell) and, alternately, angry or disinterested citizens. Our government ostensibly of the people and for the people has been all but disowned by the people.
Why vote Democrat or Republican?
When we reach this point, the question always arises, “Why do people with common sense, business sense and economic sense not run for office?” There are at least 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, Bridgegate or Monicagate, so they do not place themselves in the public light. A second reason is that the average person does not run for office is they don’t want to be associated with a loser, which is how our government is perceived. Criticism of the US congress makes the ayatollahs happy for the company.
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. Yet, when someone suggests voting 3rd party, he or she is chided thus: “You’re just throwing away your vote.”
This is, in the memorable words of Col. Sherman Potter, “Mule fritters!”
American men and women died on fields of battle–some heroic, others unknown–defending the Constitution. They did not die so the Constitution might be strangled by Donkeys and Elephants. The Constitution give us the right to vote; it does not constrain us to the two most noisy animals in the room.
“Throwing away your vote” is holding your nose before you pull the lever, fill in the circle, click the box, or pick the candidate out of a lineup, whichever your precinct requires. Throwing away your vote is choosing the lesser of two evils, because a good candidate “has no chance.” Throwing away your vote is allowing major media to promote only two parties, control the debates, divide the candidates into tiers, and to create and maintain the “here are your two candidates” illusion, from which many languidly choose.
This is America. We cheer for the underdog. It does help to know underdogs exist so we can show the overdogs the yard.
Only people willing to detach themselves from the major parties will be able to “make America great again,” whatever that really means. If America circles the toilet it is because Democrats sit on the lid while Republicans hold down the handle. Mythical term-limits will never be as effective as an electorate willing to ignore (D) and (R) as often as required.
Many on the Right cry (literally), “Third party voters are what gave us Obama twice.” Sorry, but no. Lousy Republican candidates are what gave you Obama twice. In 2008 John McCain was barely palatable as the community organizer at Shady Acres Retirement Village, yet there he was at the top of the ticket, hoping to run the government with
Tina Fey Sarah Palin.
If frustrated Republicans had voted 3rd party rather than Tea Party, Obama still would have won twice, but these current debates would be as different as chocolate is from cheese. You’d see candidates who could pull from the Center leading the polls instead of candidates fighting over a fringe unraveling so fast Grandma’s crocheting circle could not get it back together if they downed Red Bull by the barrel.
Only people willing to vote third party or Independent in multiple elections will change this stymied cycle. Typically the president is elected by 20-25% of the voters-the Independents who vote on the issues and the individual rather than a party.
A rise of Independent representatives and senators could 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 people will not produce bills of 2,000 pages crammed with enough pork to warrant a Jimmy Dean seal of approval. 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. (Current Democratic presidential candidate Bernie Sanders of Vermont was an Independent for years before bowing to the 2-party system to run.)
I am not suggesting one should never, ever vote Democrat or Republican. Sometimes the best candidate is aligned there. But, until members of the Libertarian Party, Green Party, Constitution Party, and no party, are invited into the conversation–and elected–by We The People, the defaults will remain. And We The People should not expect two dishonest parties to keep each other honest.
We the people, however, continue the problem since we are afraid to go the independent or 3rd party route. As a result we get senators and representatives who would be more at home with personal ambulatory care than national healthcare (former senators Robert Byrd and Strom Thurmond come to mind). Voters keep sending the same useless, ineffective people to Washington. Lazy voters? Yes. But also the benefits such longevity provides for the home folks indicate self-centered voters. Roads, jobs, business benefits, contracts all play into this tragicomedy that we call the U. S. government.
So, for the foreseeable future I shall remain No Party Marty. I am comfortable with it, and find the accompanying conversation elevated and undrunken.
Adapted from this January 2010 post.
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