“Much indeed to be regretted, party disputes are now carried to such a length, and truth is so enveloped in mist and false representation, that it is extremely difficult to know through what channel to seek it. This difficulty to one, who is of no party, and whose sole wish is to pursue with undeviating steps a path which would lead this country to respectability, wealth, and happiness, is exceedingly to be lamented. But such, for wise purposes, it is presumed, is the turbulence of human passions in party disputes, when victory more than truth is the palm contended for.” – George Washington
Its no secret that American politics is dominated by the two party system. However, disposition towards this state varies on a polar scale. Many contend that any realist must support the two party system because it is the only feasible means to democracy, going so far as to assert that any attempt to divert from party lines, to vote independent of either of the two dominating parties, is a waste of a vote at best, and willful fracture of American unity at worst. Others still, myself included, believe that the two party system is in fact nothing but an obstacle to democracy. There is certainly no denying the proponents of the two party system’s claim that this system is here to stay, however. Between the Republican and Democratic parties there exists such a stranglehold upon American political power that for a third-party candidate to receive even 1% of the vote is truly an impressive feat.
I grew up in a very conservative home and never questioned my party loyalties until very recently. I grew up a zealous supporter of the Bush administration and the Iraq war because to be of any other position meant betrayal of my party. I never thought about why I believed what I did because to question the Republican party and their commander-in-chief meant the terrorists, and the Democrats, win. However, as President Obama has come to adopt many of the same positions initiated by Bush I’ve slowly begun to question what real difference exists between these supposed polar opposite forces. The truth, it seems, is that neither party today has the interests of the American people at heart. Virtually every politician I’ve personally researched in either camp supports some grave evil whether it be abortion or unjust war, stoops to deceitful rhetoric, receives money from special-interest groups, seems to pander to these groups, and break campaign promises. As far as I can tell the only people our politicians are out to help are themselves.
There is an unspoken dogma that pervades American thought and it is this: to any issue, there is but two sides, and of those two polar perspectives one is invariably right while the other is intrinsically wrong. One side is the GOP the other the Democrats. Furthermore, the fact that in any given national election the American vote is so equally divided almost 50/50 between these two parties irrevocably shows just how fractured the American people are on every major issue.
This dogma could not be more false. The fact of the matter is that the Republican and Democrat parties, and the American people, have far more in common than is widely thought. While the left and right may be the only views allowed in American politics they are not opposed but actually agree on almost every major point. Thus, our “choice” has already been made for us. There exists not even the measly two choices of left and right but practically speaking we have but one choice. Case in point: both parties have supported indefinite war on terror and preemptive military actions against foreign nations, both parties have written and voted for legislation that increases Federal powers, takes away state and individual rights, violates the constitution and increases government spending even in a time of national financial crisis, and both parties succumb to the same lobbyist-controlled, image-driven career politics that cares only about special interest groups and electability, considering such things like “principles” and “morality” to be mere trivialities. The fact of the matter is this: in their history, the Republican and Democratic parties have switched back and forth time and again as the dominant party. The reason for this cyclic pendulum swing between parties is that neither party actually reflects what the American people want and, as a result, the vote usually comes down to independents who cannot identify with either party and decide based on some vital issue on which party lines differ, that is, single-issue voting.
The truth is that no political issue is two-dimensional. There are literally hundreds of differing views among Americans – many with subtle and sophisticated, but vital, differences. To force Americans to choose between two almost identical choices and to call anything else a “waste of a vote” is pure absurdity. In fact, the very solution to our political woes begins from the bottom up, with individual voters who refuse to vote for any candidate, no matter how good he or she may look on TV, with whome they cannot identify with on principle. We must be uncompromising in our principles and show it with our vote. If that means ruling out all major party candidate currently available then so be it. It would be better to vote third-party, independent, or even write someone in than to compromise for a lesser of two evils. If you want to see more candidates with whom you can identify with than you need to start voting for them now and stop worrying about party lines or electability. Its your vote, and your politicians are in office to serve YOU. So don’t let them or their special interest cohorts dictate how you vote.
Unfortunately, this is a massive and complex issue upon which I could never give adequate coverage in a blog post. If you want to find out for yourself about the claims made here than you will have to research it independently. Here is some additional reading material on the failure of the two-party system:
- Christian Ohnimus