What’s Wrong With America: The Two-Party System

If you read this space regularly, you know I have no love of the two-party system in this country. It is, frankly, an embarrassment. On the one hand, you have the Democratic Party that can’t ever agree with itself about what it wants to be when it grows up. On the other, the Republicans are so rigid in their solidarity that, if driving off a cliff, adherents will go over the edge together rather than be the one who betrays the party by doing something disloyal like, maybe, putting on the brakes or diving out of the car.

Someone please tell me how this represents reality. And you are not allowed to use the words or phrases “lies of the liberal media,” “vast right-wing conspiracy,” “socialist,” or “rethuglican.” All those generally are worth twenty-five point deductions in your IQ if you use them. No exceptions.

Since no one can do that without using those words and phrases, it’s pretty clear the two-party system in the United States has passed its sell-by date. You only have to witness Barack Obama’s dealings with Congress since his inauguration. The Democratic Congress he was handed in his first two years was so wimpy that it panicked every time someone said boo to their razor thin supermajority. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again. The Democrats cannot find enough people who agree on anything within its own ranks to field a softball team.

The Republicans are the exact opposite. Point out that they’re wrong, and you’re a socialist Islamofascist who hates America. Never mind if we’re talking about gravity. If they’re against gravity, then you’re stubborn refusal to float above the Earth’s surface for the good of the party is a sign that you want to bring our country down.

The problem with both parties is identical. Everyone on either side is trying to force fit incompatible ideologies under one tent. Since the Democrats consider obsessive-compulsive disorder as something to be medicated, they have the stronger claim to the “big tent” concept. The problem is if you’re a fiscally conservative Democrat, it’s like you farted inside the big tent.  The Republicans consider OCD a form of patriotism, you have libertarians shotgun wedded to social conservatives. Last I checked, they don’t like each other very much.

People, this is not any way to run a nation, especially a big one like ours. It’s time to take the two-party system out to the woods with a shotgun then come home and tell Hannity and Olbermann that it ran away from home. Oh, the shotgun? We were taking it out to be cleaned.

Really, the Tea Party does not represent the GOP that Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Eisenhower, or Reagan belonged to. Hell, they don’t even represent the Republicanism espoused by Nixon, unless it’s the paranoid fear-mongering part. And Nixon considered that a campaign tactic. He also had a few concerns about healthcare and stinky air and, oh, Mr. Brezhnev, let’s not blow each other up. That’s a shitty way to end a Cold War. Hmm…

There are evangelical Christians who would love to be Democrats. There are gays in the Republican Party. Not every Democrat wants to make you drive an electric car at the point of a sword. Not every Republican is scared of Muslims. But our antiquated, binary mode of political thought in this country requires you to be one or the other, and you have to take the whole package. All or nothing.

Here’s my philosophy. If I’m either for you or against you, get lost. I don’t have time to revolve my universe around you. There’s nobody representing me because there’s no platform that truly represents me. Time to break up the Party of Jackson and the Party of Lincoln. They’ve overstayed their welcome by about 70 years.

That’s not going to happen, though, until they’re overthrown from the bottom up. You won’t kick them out of Congress or the White House or even your state capital until they’re kicked off every county commission and city council in the nation, until they are pushed out of every school board and township board of trustees in America. And even then, probably not until a few Libertarians get elected secretary of state in a few states. Why?

The office of secretary of state serves only two purposes. First, keep the sitting secretary’s party in power. Second, keep the job safe for an opposition party successor. Third parties need not apply. So if a Libertarian is elected secretary of state in a few state capitals…

Now, is a multiparty system more efficient? No. But you stand a better chance of electing someone who either better represents you, or at least can take a position you can understand. And it’s better than a one-party system, something China won’t admit they want to be rid of. (Communist Party is such a misnomer for China’s ruling class that Karl Marx’s estate should sue.) And it’s better than the no-party system.

“Wait. You’re against the no-party system?”

Oh, if we could function without these oversized versions of a home owners association, it would be utopian. But utopia is a fantasy. Why?

A little history. Way back when in 1820, America entered into what was known as the Era of Good Feeling. There were no parties worth mentioning. James Monroe was elected unopposed to a second term, one token electoral vote cast for someone else on principle. The trouble was that, in 1824, when John Quincy Adams squared off against Andrew Jackson among others, the campaigns became cults of personality. There was no organizing purpose behind them other than Adams was the son of one of the editors of the Declaration of Independence, Jackson kicked a lot of British ass, Crawford was a rich white dude, and Henry Clay was America’s first metrosexual candidate. Yippee. Enter Martin Van Buren. Van Buren improvised much of how modern parties function so that the campaign could be more issue and less personality oriented. Oh, sure, you had Federalists vs. the original Republicans. And the ideology was cleaner back then, mainly because America still needed to know what it wanted to be when it grew up. In Van Buren’s time, politicians were drifting dangerously close to Napoleon-like status when rallying supporters.

Trouble is these parties coalesced into the modern Democratic and Republican Parties who came to stay in the Antebellum Era and didn’t have the same courtesy as Britains original Tories and Whigs, who faded into history when their time passed. And really, do not the Greens do a better job representing the far left in this country than the Democrats? Shouldn’t the Tea Party be an actual party? Shouldn’t Occupy?

It’s time for the two big parties to go. If you’re Barack Obama or John Boehner, they’re what keeps you from doing your job.

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Did The Democrats Blow It In Detroit?

The past two years have been a rerun of my adolescence for the Rust Belt.  Big steel and the US auto industry take it on the chin with too much capacity, too many legacy costs, skyrocketing fuel costs, and a dollar that’s worth ninety cents in Canada.  Is the sky falling?

No, it’s just the 1970’s and 1980’s again.  Only instead of Jimmy Carter bailing out Chrysler and Ronald Reagan pimping free trade and a Cold War-fueled defense industry, we have the single most incompetent president in history scratching his head.

We’ve been hit pretty hard in Ohio.  Ford’s downsizing had roughly the same effect on Cleveland as dropping an atomic bomb.  But it’s Michigan, epicenter of the US auto industry, that’s really suffering.  The surprise here is which candidates addressed the issue this past Tuesday:  John McCain and Mitt Romney.

Well, those names actually shouldn’t be surprising.  McCain enjoys broad independent appeal, which lets him speak to labor’s woes in ways the Huckabees and Thompsons of the world cannot.  Romney should not surprise anyone either.  His father once headed American Motors back before it was known for the Pacer and the Gremlin.  So while I’m no fan of Mitt, it doesn’t exactly come as a shock that He of the Perfect Hair has a soft spot for Detroit.

Many die-hard Democrats will think I’ve just committed blasphemy, but there’s a problem.  And you can lay it directly at the feet of the Democratic Party’s leadership.  See, the Democrats are snubbing Michigan this year.  Why?  They moved their primary up to mid-January, between New Hampshire and Super Tuesday.  And that’s bad because…  Um…

Paging Howard Dean.  You wanna explain this one to me?  Do you want to explain why I had to hold my nose a moment ago to praise Mitt Romney, a candidate I generally find as real and sincere as a late-night infomercial host?

The only candidate running in Michigan for the Democrats was Hillary Clinton.  All the rest pulled out because the DNC got pissy about Michigan moving up its primary.  No Barack Obama.  No John Edwards.  No Dennis Kucinich for the pure liberals.  Just Hillary.

What sort of message does that send a badly depressed Midwest?

“Screw you,” comes to mind.

Basically, where the party fubarred the whole thing is by penalizing Michigan for the most dubious of reasons.  If you’re going to complain that Michigan is too early, then Iowa and New Hampshire should also be punished.  Do you think Iowa represents the rest of America?  Or New Hampshire?

But no, someone in the Democratic Party decided to blow off the Rust Belt, blow off not only the automotive industries, but the unions that represent their workers.   Someone in the party leadership decided to blow off the party’s base.

So my question to the DNC is:

Why do you want to hand this election over to John McCain?

I don’t mind John McCain, since I’m an independent.  Besides, a Democratic Congress might do very well if it has to work with a GOP president who not only reads books, but has actually written a few.  (Come on, George.  You can read a newspaper.  The New York Post even likes you.  Or used to, anyway.)

But why in the hell do you guys want Michigan (and probably Ohio, Indiana, and Illinois with them) to go to the Republicans?

Might you want to rethink your strategy?

Don’t worry.  I’m sure the people of Michigan will rethink it for you.