Why America Desperately Needs a Third Political Party
I’ve written on this subject before, but the political times and circumstances today make it a priority as never before. Those consistent political failures are not new, nor do they have anything to do with the outgoing administration. They have been decades in the building and the mortar is set, the bricks all in a row. Time now for a pause and reconstruction. We’re on the streets and at each other’s throats.
Joe and Kamala are not going to fix it, nor is Alexandra Ocasio-Cortez.
The raggedy-assed two-party system simply no longer works
Gridlock, the funeral of bipartisan politics, deadlock—whatever term you care to use, it’s accurate. Conservative Republicans have mostly brought us here and Democrats have been eager co-conspirators along the way. Since Reagan, no matter who held power, it’s been a race to the bottom for the middle class and to the top for the one percent.
Donald Trump, arguably the most divisive, disinterested, self-aggrandizing and dangerous president in American history, was enabled by a Republican Party in fear of a failed real estate crook and mediocre reality show host. This man, this liar and cheat who no sensible person has ever taken seriously, single-handedly took over and intimidated a major national party.
The reasons are almost universally misunderstood. Rather than a man of truth, delivered to a nation that thirsted for truth in the political arena, Trump promised to burn down the house. And while a three million majority of citizens thought it was not all that good an idea, slim majorities in states that held the keys to the Electoral College hoped for, expected and got a conflagration. But they got no satisfaction.
Why, you may ask?
Ah, the question of how come slim majorities, or any at all for that matter, is both pertinent and easy to answer.
Half of America is scared shitless and they have more than ample reason. They are the half that has nowhere left to run. Major industries left them jobless in a mad run to globalization and industrial agriculture all but destroyed private farmers across the nation. Their kids are leaving Tipton, Iowa for Dubuque or Chicago because Wal-Mart, Amazon and fast-food franchises are all that’s left of the small towns they grew up in. Great small towns, solid small towns. My grandfather lived in Tipton.
They’ve mortgaged their homes to survive and can no longer meet the payments, their cars are about to be repossessed and the college they planned for the kids is out of reach. Opioids, alcoholism, suicide and divorce are off the map from what used to be and their Senators and Representatives don’t give a shit. Those toadies are busy in Washington, pocketing campaign contributions and planning their retirement, sitting on the boards of directors of whoever makes the best offer from the companies that paid them off for their vote. No one in Tipton had the dough to get their attention, nor would they. They’re straight-shooters in Tipton
Tipton is ready to burn down the house. And if you or I, sitting snugly in wherever we happen to sit, can’t understand why they voted for Donald Trump, we somehow dodged the bullet and have no idea of what’s really going on out there in rural America.
But all third parties ever do is wreck either Democrats or Republicans
True enough, but that’s because they all share the same flaw. They all run a presidential candidate and we’re not ready for that, maybe never will be. Probably never will be.
Yet 40% of both parties are dissatisfied with whoever runs on their ticket. They grudgingly vote for someone they don’t like very much and hold their nose, because they’re damned if they’ll let the other side win. I’ve done that a lot over my voting life and I’ll bet you have too. We have our chests all puffed out because 65% of registered voters turned out November 3rd, the highest percentage in 100 years.
Good god, what a disappointment. That means 35% of the American public thinks Washington is so screwed up that it isn’t even worth voting. Hard to blame them. They watch a local kid go to prison for 20 years on drug charges, while the Sackler family (who own Purdue Pharma) got a slap on the wrist for producing OxyContin, a drug that helped kill 400,000 people, many of them neighbors. They read that Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, spent half an afternoon’s earnings on a $160 million house. Wells Fargo Bank fucks over thousands of its customers and no one goes to jail, it pays a meaningless fine that allows it to deny any wrongdoing.
And they’re pissed in Tipton and elsewhere. These are people who would roll out of bed at 3am, without a whimper, to help a neighbor. We think they’re ‘deplorables’ because they voted for Donald Trump and we’re dead wrong. Sit down with the quiet ones, those who don’t wear MAGA hats and scream in your face, and you’ll find an American you forgot existed.
Okay, so what’s your magic formula?
Glad you asked. Nothing magic and not really a formula.
We need a third party that has both a platform and candidates, but no one on the presidential ticket. That way, anyone can vote for the presidential candidate of their choice and a Congressional candidate (as well as state and local candidates) that best reflects their interests. Those who run as Newbies (or whatever national name is chosen) agree to adhere to the principles outlined in the Newbie Platform.
That obviously takes some canvassing but, in this day and age, it ought to be easy to find out which hot-buttons are keeping voters away from national elections. Small money funding, a national convention entirely open to the public, a doable and a forward-looking platform that addresses anti-democratic issues such as money in politics. And scads more—we all have our reasons for turning away from elections.
How’s that going to change Washington?
Coalition politics is a great breaker of deadlock.
Suppose our mythical Newbie Party attracts even half the 40% of disaffected voters. That mythical 20% sends 20 Senators and 87 Representatives to the Senate and House. Right now, and pretty much continually, we have deadlocks in both houses of Congress. In order to legislate, Republicans and/or Democrats would have to deal with the Newbie constituency. That ought to wipe the smirk off Mitch’s face and bring some color to Nancy’s terrified countenance.
We might actually get something done in Washington and, at the same time, bring enough disaffected voters into our elections that our participation rate climbs into the 80-85% range.
Wouldn’t that be fun?