Two Parties? Really?
Since I was a kid I've been hearing about this two-party system. There were our mortal enemies Red China and The Communist Bloc. They were one-party systems which made no sense. There was nothing to differentiate from, so why mention the primary as though it were a segment? Anyway, leave that for people with large vocabularies. So, we were taught our system was superior because we had two parties. This allowed, we were told, for dissent, debate, and disagreement, which together molded policy and law more closely in tune with the majority, but was also more inclined to meet the needs of the entire population. Our obviously inferior ally, Great Britain, was there struggling with three parties in their system! Tory, Liberals, and Labor…no wonder their dissent, debate, and disagreement was 33.3% less effective than ours! Having two parties our efficiency with dissent, debate, and disagreement was at a perennial Olympic games level!
It was as though being against a two-party system was un-American - not something at that time you wished to be labeled. There was until only recently (at the time) a House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC) chaired by a man calling himself "Tail-gunner Joe" who pretended to be a bomber tail-gunner the most dangerous position on a bomber crew and arguably in the war due to how vulnerable that tail turret was to massed fighter attack. Actually, he was a supply officer and spent WWII in the rear with the gear. Right, a liar claiming there were insidious communists in the government who were lying about their loyalties. Oddly enough, there were no communists in his party - only in the other party. Nobody seemed to want to question this guy's veracity for a good long while, but that's a different story - suffice here to point out this "two-party system" they're touting as a sign of saintliness wasn't as bulletproof as they would have us believe.
The big HOWEVER to this system was/is (if you don't see this right off) it all depends on just how much the two parties differ. Say, if there are 100 issues, and they differ on three, they aren't really that two-party after all, making that concept as subject to mythology as Tail-gunner Joe's military career. Aside from that glaring flaw, I always thought it was a standard foisted upon us by members of guess what - those two parties! Surprise! Surprise! Yet, this is why the Democrats are utterly useless as opponents to the Republicans. The Democrats actually believe it's their duty to help the Republicans stay in business. In other words, they don't see themselves as responsible to defeat the Republicans. What's odd is, Democrats trust these Republicans would never set about to destroy the Democratic Party. Cheat on elections? What do you call Gerrymandering districts to ensure a majority does not rule? What do you call tampering with and manipulating the electoral process itself to ensure the majority view does not prevail? Democrats are fatally flawed in their naivety and offer no resistance to this bold-faced assault on democracy by the Republican Party.
Obviously, for the reason I stated (and for a few more I won't go into here) Democrats cannot be relied upon to represent the U.S. citizenry as they see themselves governing in a coalition with our opposition. The Republicans, who represent only corporate interests ultimately, are incompatible with democracy. They abhor an actual democracy. They'll even tell you the U.S. isn't a democracy, but rather a "constitutional republic". This, of course, is intended to obfuscate the issue, but underlying it is a desire to prevail over any majority which might disagree with them. Those they represent, the corporate structure, have stated they wish to establish a plutocracy thus making the voting public a thing of the past, and relegating citizens to the role of strictly employees with no say in how the U.S. is governed. It is obvious the citizens require a party to effectively oppose these two threats to their own rights in a democratic system. The Democrats are proud to demonstrate that party is not them. This leaves the U.S. citizenry literally without representation in this government "…of the people, for the people and by the people."
Neither the corporate weenies nor the Republicans wish to see such a government actually come into being. Democrats misguidedly believing Republicans are required or the U.S. isn't whole correspondingly believe the same about their own party. Should a third, or even fourth party arise, the two have demonstrated they would band together to pressure those out of existence before they ever turned on one another. They've even enshrined themselves with laws creating favorable electoral conditions for themselves, and creating an obstacle course for anyone attempting to organize an alternative party. What this means is anyone waiting for these two parties, the Democratic and Republican, to break out of their intramural competition and actually try governing this country is in for a long wait. There is no incentive for either of them to do that. All they'll do is continue their mutually accepted, long-term tug-of-war claiming they're trying to govern but the other guy just won't let them. All the while the problems that have plagued us for half a century will still be here decades from now, while class after class of professional politicians make their careers and retire in succession using the existing format to propel themselves into the history books having done nothing substantial but stand by and allow their nation to fall into decay.
Witness the bi-partisan attack on infrastructure aging. What bi-partisan attack on infrastructure aging? Right! Fifty years from now they'll still be claiming they're going to "get to that just as soon as …. " In fact, this is how confused the two of them have become; they both claim they can't solve most of the problems plaguing us because, "Trying to solve those problems, while keeping things the way they
are now, means we can't solve those problems." They actually say that. The citizens waiting for these people to at last come around, see the light, and get back to governing are assuming these people have ever governed at all. A close look at the record will show you they've spent more time explaining why they're helpless to do anything than they have spent actually doing anything. Why do you think we have to point to over fifty years ago for examples of when proper governance could build and create growth and opportunity? These people are professionals, proficient at running for office in this current system. One of the tenets for this skill is to never get caught committing to anything. "Never let them pin you down." They have mastered double talk. They smile cap-toothed smiles in expensive suits, with prominent wrist watches, and behind your backs laugh at you for not expecting more.
How does it feel to support someone who ridicules you for supporting him? I hope it feels bad - real bad. Not until you, the voter, tire of this and demand change, rather than expect it; not until you swing the double-bladed axe will you see any change. You can't believe these yahoos are the only ones there are in our population capable of doing these jobs. Even someone who can do half the job is better than professional do-nothings exercising their own hard-earned skills. Maybe the guy without a paid-for smile is more serious than that goof gaping at you with his store-bought smile. Maybe that person with the suit jacket and pants that don't match has spent more time trying to understand what's going on for real than he or she has spent money on clothes to appeal to your sense of good looks. Or, maybe you've drunk the Kool-Aid and talking to you about real social change is just as futile as expecting a Democrat or Republican to eventually cause some. Maybe Caesar was right. The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in our selves.* Maybe a country does get the government it deserves. Still, to be truthful, there are at this writing 47 political parties in the United States. Of these, three (often called "The Big Three") are considered viable enough to field a major candidate in a national race - The Constitution Party, The Green Party of the United States and The Libertarian Party. The Green Party managed to garner 2.7% of the popular vote when they ran their major presidential candidate Ralph Nader. The Libertarian Party managed a 3rd place showing with theirs at 3.3% during the last election.
Serious candidates in the election which was won by an itinerant real estate dealer from New York and included Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont (a declared socialist) saw themselves forced to run under the auspices of one of the two major parties being faced with the prospect of, if running independently, only managing to obtain no more than 8% of the popular vote. Of course, the popular vote means nothing in the United States, as its presidential elections are conducted under what they term an electoral college. Rather than voting for the actual candidates, citizens vote for a representative who is supposed to then vote for a specific candidate. However, in some states these representatives are not bound by law to vote for the specific candidate for which they were elected to vote. The remaining 44 political parties range from projects launched by obstinate eccentrics to efforts amounting to no more than an obscure social statement, or as a form of grandstanding. Sharply rising costs to run campaigns, led primarily by television air time fees, price-out any efforts but for the two major parties which seem to have a lock on the U.S. political process if for no other reason than being able to achieve that level of funding. Funding presidential campaigns now involves enough money to meet the annual budget of a medium-sized country. It's accurate to say the cozy relationship Democrats and Republicans enjoy has more to do with access to political donors than with any ideology. As such, since the two parties together control all of the United States' legislative processes, no attempt at lessening the influence money has on U.S. elections has been seriously attempted. Both parties see this as shooting themselves in the foot and therefore cannot be trusted to acknowledge campaign finance as a problem which skews the democratic process in what is supposed to be the flagship for liberal democracy around the world.
And, that is the bitter irony in the end. The one country supposed to epitomize constitutional democracy, which holds itself out as an example to the world, no longer has a government which a.) represents its citizenry and b.) actually governs. It seems an economic system as young as the fledgling democracy in question has risen up as a parasite rivaling the dimensions of its host, ensuring all efforts of power in this country meet its needs to the exclusion of all else, which incidentally includes that country's citizens. It is a process that citizenry heralded in, and has celebrated for more than 200 years, but in the end has grown to squeeze them out of their own country - allowing them to remain only as employees. They seem to be boiling the frog at this juncture, already accepting solvable problems as facts of life and pressing on with a sort of ego-driven fatalism. An interesting side note is how prevalent has become entertainment based on what are called "the undead" or zombies. It's as though these reanimated corpses serve as an allegory for the citizens of the United States. There's a morbid fascination with it and all things related to death rising as a significant force in all their cultural offerings, but most blatantly in their considerably influential moving picture industry.
*Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene 2, William Shakespeare