I don’t often delve into politics on this blog, if only because I really do not become super interested in politics as we know them in America. I long for America to find it in their collective heart to allow more than two parties to actually do something in this country, much like the rest of the world. Alas, much like some form of universal healthcare, we are lagging behind many developed countries in actually having a political system that better represents the population as a whole.
When people ask me of my political leanings, I often state that I am a moderate liberal. I do not really have any “major” issues with which I focus my time on when it comes to picking the people I vote for. It is true that I tend to vote for Democrats over Republicans, but that is primarily because I often have no other option. However, I am to this day proud that in my first presidential election I voted for Al Gore, though living in Utah at the time did not mean as much as, say, a resident of Florida, and I also voted for President Obama in 2008, and will most likely do so again in 2012.
I was having a discussion recently about why the two-party system is flawed, and the primary reason I came up with was not everything is black and white. There is more than two choices on most any topic, and therefore it is hard to identify with only one political party, or one politician, on everything. There are a lot of gray areas on many topics, and I don’t think they can be adequately covered with two political parties. Why should I have to only like my candidate more than I like the other? Why can’t I pick someone from a party that represents my views on 95% of the issues, instead of two or three of the major ones? A lot of other countries have already figured this out. Why can’t we?
Were I a political science scholar (just because my degree is in PoliSci does not make me a scholar), I would attempt to examine all of our elected officials at the federal level (535 Congresspeople and Senators) and actually divide them into actual political parties beyond Republican and Democrat. I think anyone realizes that there are pro-choice Republicans and pro-life Democrats, and every other “oxymoronic” connection with every other topic (gun rights, states’ rights, death penalty, immigration, etc.). But it seems that every politician out there has to compare themselves to someone else, even people from their same party, and try to decide if they are more “left or right” than that person to court voters.
Because of this, I propose that in my lifetime, we attempt to add three more viable political parties to our political spectrum, if only to not be slow blue versus red all the time. If you think of the political spectrum as a line, I would lay it out a bit like this: Democrats and Republicans would occupy the far left and right, respectively, of the line to various degrees. But there would be three “tick” marks in between them. Smack in the middle would be a party that I call the “Middlers,” which would consist of people already in the middle politically and who only choose which side to go with when they are ahead. To the left and right of the Middlers, about halfway from Republicans/Democrats, would be the other two parties, whose names I can’t really think of right now. However, all five of these parties would be distinct from one another, and would have to form actual coalitions to form a majority government, much like it is in a lot of other countries. There would also have to be room for smaller parties to get a seat every once in a while so niche parties could have their say if they can elect strong candidates.
Do I ever truly think something like this would happen? Not really, but it almost happened once before in our history. In 1912, after seeing how much the country sucked and unable to do anything within the established Republican Party, Theodore Roosevelt ran a pretty strong campaign as a member of the Progressive Party. While this was just a presidential election, had Roosevelt been successful, things might have changed going forward at all levels of elections. Unfortunately since that election, there has never truly been a viable “third party” candidate for president. This is something that can change, but first that third party needs to become a voice for everyone disillusioned with the other two, and then a fourth and fifth party will do the same thing. Will it happen in the next 60 years? I guess we’ll find out.
Until next time…