(Thoughts on Life, Aug. 27, 2002)
Today was Election Day, for Oklahoma primaries. I didn’t get to vote, because I’m registered with the election board as an “Independent” voter. If you’re reading this in the distant future, when politics and government actually make sense (I hope, for your sake), allow me to explain the farce that is American Politics.
In America, we have what is called the “two-party system.” Some claim that this system was allowed, or even mandated by the US Constitution, but I seriously doubt that our founding fathers could have been so imbecilic.
The Two-Party System is this: two “parties” (groups, organizations) hold the real political power in the USA, and are constantly battling each other to gain the upper hand. In the distant past, we had the Federalist Party, the Whig Party, and others. Now, though, in 2002 AD, we have the Republicans and the Democrats. Once a “liberal” party, the Republicans have — throughout my lifetime — been somewhat conservative. The Democrats made the opposite switch during this century, and are now increasingly liberal.
In their basic definitions (currently), “liberal” means “advocating progressive reform,” (also “bountiful, generous, giving largely… not characterized by selfish, narrow or contracted ideas or feeling”), while “conservative” is defined as “traditional, cautious, inclining to keep up old institutions, customs and the like” (also, “opposed to radical changes or innovations… to oppose undesirable change.”)
A thinking person can see these definitions and realize that both are “good” and worth supporting.
Change, in and of itself, may not necessarily be “good,” but when evils and inequalities still exist in our society, then change may be necessary. When there are problems that need to be corrected (racial prejudice, police violence, drug and alcohol abuse, education deficiencies, too-high taxes, poverty, health problems, etc.), then change is probably the answer. “If what you’re doing now isn’t working, try something else” (Millal Ba).
On the other hand, traditions can be healthy, as well as caution and opposition to radical changes. If a current institution is working, but not working perfectly, it may be a good idea to keep it for a while, rather than substituting another program that will not work as well. “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” (unknown).
But in modern times, in America, “liberal” and “conservative” have both taken on new connotations in the political arena, and — to me, at least — both new definitions seem negative. Who has concocted these new definitions? The opponents of each group, in order to demean their opponents.
So, now, the conservative groups define liberalism as (my wording) “those who would seek to eradicate all that is good about our country.” Today’s liberals are in favor of “freedom of choice” (pro-abortion for unborn human children), racial and gender equality (through government assistance), banning private citizens from owning handguns or other weapons, more government assistance for poor and lower-middle class families, stricter environmental controls, “animal rights” (sometimes at the exclusion of human rights), complete freedom of the press and freedom of speech and expression, eradication of all government-linked religious institutions (“under God” in the Pledge of Allegiance, “so help me God” in the oaths of office, public-funding religious schools, etc.), extirpating all references to “creationism” in public education, etc.
Remember that these are the accusations made by conservatives. Not all self-proclaimed liberals would admit to such radical ideas.
Liberal groups, however, have their own definition for today’s conservatives: “Old, rich fogies, who want to stay rich, and screw the common man.” Believe it or not, this is the main hurtful accusation that media liberals use to paint the conservatives as “bad guys”. Modern conservatives want to flood the public schools with religious — mainly Christian — themes, allow all private citizens to own any kind of dangerous weapon they wish to own, force ethnic minorities and women to remain trodden underfoot, force women to bear the children of rapists, do away with all programs that assist the poor, ruin the natural environment, censor what the media can report and what the average man say, force students to learn creationism alongside evolution, and all big businesses to use large tax breaks, so their owners can stay rich.
Again, these are accusations made by the opposite side, using my choice of words and subjects.
Personally, I cannot believe that anyone could completely espouse either side (since these are quickly becoming accurate definitions — “you are what other people think you are.”)
Anyway, to my point: men and women wishing to run for political office in modern America are forced to choose between one party or the other, to have a realistic hope of winning. Certainly, many “independent” candidates file for office each year, and some of them actually win. But check your records… How many “Independent” candidates have been President of the USA? None. How many independents are in the US Senate or US House of Representatives? Very few. How many of the justices on the US Supreme Court are “independent”? None, unless I’ve missed a new appointment. How many voters are registered as independent? Extremely low percentages.
So, to win, you would naturally want to align yourself with one party or another. This is why it is called a “two-party system.”
It is, in my humble opinion, completely and utterly ridiculous. Of course, many educated and “logical” men and women fully believe in this system, and would fight to their deaths to keep it.
My question is this… WHY?! WHY, by all the gods in heaven?
What sense does it make for an intelligent person to cast aside their own beliefs in order to win an election? Of course, they will be elected to “represent the people,” hence the term “representative.” But any poll will show that about half of the voters in our country fall on one side of the fence, and the other half of the people fall on the other side. True, most of these people are near the dividing line, but many candidates don’t seem to realize this. A true-blue liberal candidate will not announce an independent campaign; instead, he or she will attempt to sway those who do not agree with him, by publishing expensive, “feel good” advertisements. The same goes for those on the other side.
I say it makes a thousand times more sense to do away with this farce, and force everyone to run for office as a candidate, without adding “Democrat” or “Republican” to the word. This is where most of the people live — in the middle.
Though I am registered as an independent, I will freely admit that I usually lean toward the conservative side of things. And other independents undoubtedly lean a little the other way. But we both want to avoid the calamity of electing someone merely because they are a member of a certain, “official party.”
Elsewhere, in my journal, I have written my opinions on all of the above political ideas — abortion, racial equality, government assistance, etc. But my point here is not to logically attack either set of beliefs. My theme is that almost no one in the USA fully espouses either set fully, and thus the two-party system is faulty, a fallacy that we cannot remove because it is such a well-known institution. Doesn’t this desire to keep the two-party system, by definition, mean that all politicians are conservative?
A true “liberal” (wanting change), would want to change this system, and require each man or woman to campaign on their own merit, rather than on the recommendation of a dubious group of “party leaders.”
Critics of this idea would say, “But it keeps our country stable.” On the other hand, supporters (like myself) would say, “No, it keeps our country corrupt and stagnant.”
Some may even use the old (and usually successful) argument that, “It means more jobs. So many people work for both parties? Where would these people work, if not for the parties?”
That is an easy question to answer, if it is looked at sensibly. Who funds the parties? Where does the money come from? Most of it comes from large corporations, labor unions, and wealthy families, though some of it comes through thousands of donations from voters that belong to either party. Instead of sending these massive amounts of money to the parties, which is in turn used to finance expensive campaigns and pay the parties’ employees, all of the contributors — especially the corporations and labor unions — could use the money to give jobs to those people who would no longer be working for the parties. True, it would mean that those ex-party employees would actually have to work at some meaningful and worthwhile job, but they would still be employed. And the extra money, which is currently used to pay for the overpriced campaigns, could be used for other purposes — raising wages, charitable donations, renovation of historical districts in old cities, etc.
Not only would our country be richer for it, but would be much less corrupt. Of course, if there were no parties, the corporations would still use their money to support candidates of their choice, thinking they would get favorable legislation in return, and thus there would still be corruption to some degree. But at least it would be less organized, and less ominous. Besides, all those “campaign spending limits” that the legislators keep talking about could actually be put in place, and enforced, which would greatly limit the level of corruption. Instead of candidates spending $89 million, they could be limited to $100,000, or so. How’s that for a “kick in the pants”?
(Sorry about all that. I stayed at work late tonight, helping to tabulate election returns. Stu and Cheryl P. were there, along with Stu’s parents, Ted and Nancy P. Karen, Donny & Shirlene, Katie & her kids, Johnna Tigner & her husband were there as well. Also, Darlene P. was there.)
And I am sure that anyone reading this will assume that I am mentally deranged, or at least on the edge of contracting some mental illness. “Mental illness,” though, is a whole other topic, which I will surely treat at length on another day.)