Free democracy stiffled by abusive political parties
Party lines force us to cast a vote for candidates who share a distinction with no real difference. Political third parties have the only true ideological differences but so long as they are stifled and ignored, voters will only have one choice.
The two major candidates share a strikingly similar political ideology, but they find ways to distinguish themselves by controlling public discourse and deploying emotional triggers. A candidate doesn’t have to say anything anymore, he just has to elicit a passionate response. A phrase has become popular in recent years called “sound-bite journalism.” In other words, politicians and journalists have developed an understanding. In 1968, the average TV clip of a politician lasted 43 seconds in duration. In 1988, that dropped to just nine seconds. Nine seconds is enough to shout “Yes we can,” or “Believe in America,” but not anything significant. Journalists know this, but frankly sound bites make for punchy headlines and good TV.
This understanding makes sense. Politicians know that America votes on party lines and by rallying their base they are free to go after the independents. If housing is a buyer’s market, politics is a seller’s market and no businessman pitches their product to the regulars. They’ve already been sold. Al Gore learned the importance of the independent electorate in 2000 when Green Party candidate Ralph Nader siphoned just enough delegates to split the Democrats.
Don’t think the importance of third-party voters includes them in the political process. Ron Paul has been the only true third party candidate since Theodore Roosevelt and he was so ostracized by journalists he never stood a chance. Like so many elections before, his third-party constituents are now choosing death by taxation or corporation. America will never have a robust and free political discourse so long as the debate is controlled and owned by political parties. Third parties are stifled by an oppressive two-party system that prevents new ideas from taking root and reaching the broader population.
Trying to find the real difference between Mitt Romney and Barack Obama leaves a voter splitting hairs. Romney claims the policies touted by Obama are destructive to our country, but that hasn’t stopped him from taking advantage. Romney and his private equity firm Bain Capital has profited wildly from policies like the Affordable Healthcare Act, which mandates every American must purchase health insurance. Bain Capital has been managing the portfolios of insurance companies for decades and it is Romney that passed a state version of the AHA during his term as Governor of Massachusetts.
Politicians have found that two issues in particular rally a constituency and so these are the only concrete issues they approach. It’s hard to rally around foreign policy or complex economic policies, but abortion and gay marriage are graspable to the average American and will quickly get out the vote. One cannot blame America as a constituency for the patronizing strategies deployed by today’s presidential candidates, but it is possible to point the blame in the right direction. Political parties have controlled and managed
Identifying a problem is the first part of finding a solution. Parties must step out of the way and allow the political process to continue, as it once did, unmolested. New ideas come from outside the aisle, not from either side and as long as the political process is stifled, and so long as third parties are ostracized and demonized, America’s democracy will never be truly free.