Can you think of two separate words that perfectly divide and encapsulate the beliefs, preferences and characteristics of 300 million different people? No? Well then, how lucky are we that our country’s government has been able to base its entire decision-making process on that very concept. There may have been a time when it really meant something to be a Democrat or Republican (say, when the parties were first founded so that like-minded people could band together in order to give their collective interests a larger voice), but when your group’s membership begins to number in the tens of millions, acting like everyone’s desires are exactly the same becomes something of a charade.
Unfortunately, the convenience of only having to choose between one side or the other makes the two-party system a monster of an adversary, as Ralph Nader of the Green Party will tell you. Given that elections of presidents and congressmen are specifically designed for a Republican vs. Democrat contest, it’s difficult for someone who embraces independent, unassociated ideas to compete in the “Us vs. Them” vortex. When you have a system with only two choices, and you’re one of those two choices, there’s not much else to do but try to beat the other side so that your choice is selected. What this means in reality is that Republicans and Democrats spend the majority of their time battling each other for power in order to prove once and for all to the American people that their party is superior and better qualified to run the country.
So what we get out of this system is a back and forth political free-for-all, with one party briefly gaining an advantage over the other in terms of political power, and then eventually surrendering that power to the other party after being blamed for the world not being perfect while they were calling the shots. On and on it will go, with constructive government actions few and far between, so long as the dominant political matter is determining who is right, instead of what is right.
Okay, that was really depressing to talk about, but finally we can move out of that desert and into the meadows of inspiration. Here’s the proposal: Abolish political parties and the mob mentality they foster. With no party umbrella to hide behind, political candidates will have to run on one thing: their genuine ideas and abilities. If you’re running for some sort of political position, and you majored in architecture and have been employed in that field for your entire life, then put that down next to your name on the ballot. At least then voters would know that you have a verifiable skill.
If you’re watching TV and see a congressman with the title “John Williams – Democrat,” that really tells you nothing about his abilities as a problem solver or decision maker. Just imagine Congress without parties: Politicians could cast a vote purely based on their own opinion, without having to worry about remaining loyal to their party. That’s right everyone: a party-free America!
At this point you may be wondering, “If political candidates list their occupational trade instead of a political party, how are voters to know where they stand on political issues?” Simple — develop a questionnaire that is specific to the particular election at hand, and make every candidate for the position fill it out.
Okay, almost done. Just one more concern to raise and completely dismantle: “If candidates aren’t members of a party, where will they go to raise funds to run a political campaign?” Again, there’s an obvious solution here: eliminate political campaigns. In the age of the internet, it’s unclear why candidates need several months to convey to the public what their political positions are (maybe it’s because they spend most of that time slandering their opponent instead of sharing any interesting ideas for society).
On the other side of the coin, it’s very hard to say anything meaningful in a 30-second campaign ad on TV. Let’s just get rid of the campaign carnival. A country which requires prospective public officials to raise millions of dollars for the sole purpose of trying to acquire a seat in the U.S. Senate is not one that can truly call itself a democracy. Good day everyone. I’ll see you at the library — I think they may offer more than two book titles there.
Connor Hastings is a graduate student in environmental studies and management.
I think you make some good points, although it was a bit of a shotgun blast into what’s wrong with the American political system.
I particularly agree with your criticism of the Democrat-Republican binary; our country’s excellence comes from the shades of grey that fall between the two.
Unfortunately, The Daily Nexus reinforces this false dichotomy through their ridiculous political column, “Left Said, Right Said.” The articles usually promote cookie cutter party statements, rather than meaningful, nuanced ideas, to current problems.