Andrew Sullivan Exemplifies the Two-Party Trap

Andrew Sullivan comments on Romney’s unprecedented swing after the first presidential election. Sullivan spends the first several paragraphs enviously describing just how much of a Big Deal this is for Romney: Before the debate, Obama had a 51 – 43 lead; now, Romney has a 49 – 45 lead but even more shocking to Sullivan is that Obama lost 18 points among women voters overnight.

Yet, what Sullivan studiously avoids saying is that Romney won the debate. The debate led to a massive turnaround for Romney that Sullivan himself labels “unprecedented” but Romney did not win the debate. That would imply legitimacy to Romney’s lead and suggest that he may actually be the better candidate – at least in the eyes of everyone who watched the debate.

Instead of deriving a conclusion based on the facts, Sullivan resorts to an emotional reaction, stating: “Lies work when they are unrebutted live on stage.” Romney cheated and Obama is the victim. Nevermind that Sullivan can never tell us what, exactly, it is that Romney lied about. Even after Sullivan mourns at length over Obama’s arrogance and incompetence he still manages to overcome the cognitive dissonance to end with a rally cry to overcome the “lies and propaganda”, to fight the “extremism” of Romney, and to support Obama’s “reality-based government.” In one paragraph Obama is an arrogant, incompetent president who will never give his supporters the kind of leadership that they deserve but in the next he is our only savior, our only hope, our shining light.

And that just about perfectly sums up the two-party trap. Your candidate simply is not fit to lead anyone, much less a nation, but it does not matter because the other candidate is worse (hint: the other candidate is always worse). So you’d better knuckle under in the one case of national crisis because if you don’t vote for “your” candidate, if you vote third-party or not at all, you’re actually voting for the other guy – you monster. The trap, of course, is that the temporary crisis is never temporary and as we are suckered into voting the lesser evil into office every election cycle our “lesser evils” just keep getting worse and worse.

The polarizing divide and conquer tactics used today, however, are not new. In the 1800 election Jefferson was accused of being the anti-christ and his opponents claimed that if he were elected our children would be coerced into singing heretical hymns out of fear, everyone’s Bible’s would be burned and America’s wives and daughters would be made the victims of legal prostitution. Citizens buried their Bibles or hid them in wells out of fear that Jefferson would send in troops to confiscate them. That never happened. Today, we must vote Romney because “the Catholic Faith hangs in the balance” as one friend of mine put it.

Andrew Sullivan is probably right though: Romney probably did lie. He has a long history of lying and duplicity. Of course, so does Obama who broke almost every campaign promise that he made four years ago. One of his greatest draws four years ago was his proposed foreign policy: to close Guantanamo Bay, end our wars abroad and bring our troops home. In fact, he did the opposite, doubling down on Bush’s failed policies. We’ve even gone from unconstitutional wiretappings under Bush to unconstitutional assassinations under Obama. So, as far as I’m concerned, whether or not Romney lied in the debates is of little consequence. First, because both Romney and Obama are established liars anyway and, second, Obama did nothing to refute the supposed lies as Sullivan himself admits.

I think that the reason that Sullivan has such a hard time coming to grips with Romney’s comeback is that he has swallowed the media narrative that paints the left and right parties as diametrically opposed forces with one as savior and the other as brainless idiots who will doom us all. In fact,once you depart from the rhetoric, Obama and Romney are nearly identical.

Sullivan laments that if Romney is elected then “We’re back to Bush-Cheney, but more extreme.” But isn’t that exactly what Obama has done as I mentioned above? It is this blind party loyalty that allows Sullivan to call Obama arrogant, incompetent and self-destructive in one sentence and then praise him as America’s only hope against (apparently supremely evil) Romney the next.

Here’s a news flash: both candidates are liars and opportunists who agree more than they disagree and, because they’re supposed to serve us, we should always be very critical of them, demand more from both candidates and refrain from supporting either until they shape up, if ever. To support terrible candidates simply because you are afraid of how much worse the other one might be serves only to further the corruption of our political system. We’re simply digging a bigger hole for ourselves.

Oh, also, lets call a spade a spade. I may not like Romney but he hands-down won the debate. Any disinterested observer can see that clear as day.


The Corporate Oligarchy

War is Peace

Ignorance is Freedom

Pride is Virtue

And two indistinct “choices” is Democracy

One of these men is the savior of our country; the other is a brainless idiot who hates everything that makes America great. But which is which depends entirely on whether you are a Republican or a Democrat because both men are driven by the same corporatist principles and political demagoguery.

Here’s the facts: both candidates support aggressive warfare, sanctions, and interventionist foreign policy, both oppose an audit of the Federal Reserve and think that Ben Bernanke is doing a “good job”, both want Gauntanamo open and expanded, both believe that the President has the authority to order the assassination of anyone (including American citizens) without trial, both supported the TARP bailouts, they share the same financial backers (mostly Wall Street and central banks – yes, the same ones we bailed out), they both have a long pro-choice record, both supported mandated health insurance, both have violated Americans’ religious freedom: Romney forced Catholic hospitals to dispense the Morning After Pill and Obama forces employers to cover birth control on employee insurance plans against their consciences.

That sound you hear is Romney clapping.

Both have shown an irrational level of loyalty to Israel, putting Israel’s interest before even our own at the expense of our own security and morals; both support torture and the death penalty, and while Obama supports gay marriage and euthanasia Romney is indifferent on these issues at best.

You got us. We’re the same.

Regardless of which of these men secure power come November big government, the systematic erosion of freedom and collectivism win and Americans lose.

I happen to like most Americans – but central planners, bureaucrats, and demagogues? Not so much. That’s why I’m going to vote for candidates that actually represent the former and not people like Obama and Romney who stand for the latter.

Down with the Two-Party System

The Iowa Electronic Markets, a forecast tool that employs a betting system with real money so that participants must “put their money where their mouth is,” so to speak, has consistently out-performed the Rasmussen report in predicting election results for decades.

The IEM puts the odds for Obama’s reelection at over 60%. This is despite the fact that, according to the Rasmussen Report’s daily tracking poll 39% of voters strongly disapprove of Obama’s job performance while only 25% strongly approve. So while the majority of Americans disapprove of Obama’s performance in office they’d rather have even our current train-wreck of a president over Mitt Romney.

When both of the men most likely to be elected President in November, head and shoulders above any other prospective or third-party candidate, are despised by the American citizenry at large but one of them will most certainly be president then do we even have any semblance of a democratic process anymore? Or are we just play-acting at a democracy now?

This is precisely why we need more options than a two-party system affords.

Right versus Left

“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:

The Two-Party System: A Catastrophic Failure

Two-Party System in America

America Held Hostage To Two-Party System Failure

– Christian Ohnimus