The Common Sense Blog: It's Time to End Our Bi-Polar Political System
Democracy is dying in America. The two-party system is killing it.
The vast majority of voters did not choose who ran for president, as both Trump and Clinton were nominated by only 14% of eligible voters.
- In the primaries, 30 million voters chose Clinton and Trump; 30 million voted for other candidates.
- 73 million did not vote in the primaries.
- An estimated 88 million don’t vote at all (New York Times: 8/1/2016).
And what kind of choices do voters get? Democrats list to the left. Republicans lean to the right. Once chosen, the nominees pivot from their extremes toward the center. Why? Because most Americans are based in the center, that’s why. In 2015, out of all registered voters 29% were Democrats, 26% were Republicans, and 42% were registered Independents (Gallup). That doesn’t even include those eligible voters not registered at all.
The majority in the center has no voice, so it’s no wonder presidential elections bring out the same complaint: a choice between the “lesser of two evils.” In the 2016 election both candidates had the highest disapproval ratings ever for a presidential election. This frustration breeds apathy. Over 91.7 million eligible voters didn’t even vote this fall. That’s 39.8% of the voter pool (United States Election Project). This is democracy?
The main problem is that voters only get to choose from candidates espousing one of two opposing ideologies.
Republican conservative ideology holds fast to small government, unfettered business, and a strong military. But this “small” government spends vast amounts of tax dollars outsourcing to private business which raises the debt, cuts social programs for the poor and middle class, and reduces taxes for large corporations and the top 1%. The promised improvement for the economy, fostered by reduced government regulations, is almost entirely a boost for the bottom line of large corporations, banks, and Wall Street managers. “Trickle down” economics doesn’t work as a rising tide doesn’t lift all boats. It only lifts the yachts of the wealthy while sinking everyone else because their boats have rotted hulls from neglect, and they can’t buy the political support to repair them. Republicans build a strong military all right, and at times send it off into ill-advised wars that enrich the military-industrial complex while unnecessarily endangering the lives of our men and women in uniform. We saw this happen in the Iraq war that started in 2003.
We need a robust major third party, a Centrist Party, to compete with Democrats and Republicans, one that is not stuck in Big Government or Big Business ideologies.
Democrats’ progressive ideology upholds beliefs in a strong government, regulated business, and a military sufficient to protect America’s interests. But “strong” government can become a bloated “Big” government, trying to regulate and administer countless programs in an effort to address everyone’s problems. This excessive bureaucracy creates boondoggles such as the V.A. hospital fiasco in Colorado and over-manages the economy with confusing regulations and taxation that burdens business creation. Democrats believe higher taxes and borrowing to increase the debt will advance the well-being of the average American, yet this tends to mortgage the future. Democrats often seem torn between a strong national defense and allocating funds for domestic use. Military force is used sparingly, and at times, too little too late.
What happens? Republicans create havoc at home and abroad. Democrats are brought in to fix things but overreach with government programs that frustrate the electorate who then bring in the Republicans again. Lather. Rinse. Repeat. We get bi-polar, crazy-making swings in government, (none crazier than going from Obama to Trump.) Voters keep moving back and forth from one party to the other, seeking from the right or the left what we all really want—a well-centered government that works.
WE NEED TO END OUR BI-POLAR POLITICAL SYSTEM. Bernie Sanders nailed the sentiment, but it cannot come from the left because the right will always counter it. The Trump populist phenomenon tapped into the general frustration with governmental ineffectiveness, but his personal foibles and the influence of conservative Republicans will likely bring the same disastrous policies of the George W. Bush years. The change must come from the center.
We need a robust major third party, a Centrist Party, to compete with Democrats and Republicans, one that is not stuck in Big Government or Big Business ideologies. This Centrist Party will draw from the center where most Americans live and will bring to state houses, Congress, and the White House a flexible approach that will truly attend to the well-being of the American people with policies that effectively solve the challenges our nation faces. It can make government leaner and smarter, remove the big money lobbyists that unduly influence legislation and elections, and bring the freedom of opportunity back into our nation with practical capitalism, one without the monopolistic and oligarchic forces that gobble up resources and strangle true competition. And, it can bring sensible regulations not encumbered by overwrought government oversight.
Let’s build a Centrist Party to change our government, and our great nation, for the better.