Sunday, August 23, 2009
Gordy Ringoen - The Coming Third Political Party
First, historically, our two party system tends to be pretty much centrist. It usually is pretty easy for anyone to get 45-49% of the votes on any major issue or for a politician to get similar numbers. The key to victory is to get the 51-56%. The deal breaker votes are decided by the centrist swing voters. There are not enough votes at the extreme right or left to carry the day.
This general proposition has totally broken down. The Republicans are dominated by the fringe right with probably no more than 20-25% of the electorate in their camp. They show no interest in actually governing but merely to play politics for power. The fear and divisiveness themes just don’t resonate with the majority of the population as we saw in the last election. Similarly, in the 1930’s, I have read, the Republican’s dropped to a mere 16 Senators. They will not moderate in the foreseeable future because the primaries are controlled by the extreme right.
The weakness of the Republicans threatens our two part system. Without two viable parties, there is no real choice. That is the recipe for destruction of a Democracy.
The Democrats, on the other hand, are pretty much politics as usual. They are dominated by the money from the same special interest groups that fund the Republicans. They are very reticent to bite the hand that feeds them as we see in the mollification of defense contractors, health insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, energy companies, and of course, the fount of all things financial, Wall Street.
Though they at least have some interest in governing, it is subordinate to their own well being and re-election which is funded by special interests.
Now, how does this fit with the general population? Not well I think. Congress has an approval rating in the area of 15%. Pundits discount this as irrelevant because it includes both parties. This is to miss the point that there is an incredible dissatisfaction as to how both parties are actually governing. It should be a warning sign that there is the possibility of a major political earth quake.
My smug Republican friends delight in the falling poll numbers for Obama, as to say, “We told you so.” They think that people are rejecting his leftist leaning programs. The fact is, those that are becoming dissatisfied are unhappy because he has not been progressive enough. He has not delivered on the “Change” that he promised. And, there is scant evidence that he or the Democratic Congress is going to meet the challenges we face as a nation.
Let’s look at some of the issues that the progressive members of our society, and, I believe, the majority of the population wants addressed:
1. Stop unnecessary wars. Although Iraq seems to be winding down, there have been no compelling reasons given as to why we continue to escalate in Afghanistan.
2. Our world, as we know it, will not survive unless we address global warming.
3. The world is running out of oil! We use 24% of the world’s oil, and our economy and standard of living will crumble in the near future unless we address the issue now.
4. We will have a $1.8+ trillion deficit this year. With uncontrolled deficits our currency will ultimately crack and then forget about having 24% of the worlds‘s oil to consume and foreigners subsidizing our profligacy.
5. Accountability for the laws broken in starting the war in Iraq, torture, and extra-legal spying on citizens.
6. The distorted distribution of wealth in favor of the rich.
7. Sensible laws, reflecting the social values of the majority, regarding gay rights, illegal drugs, and guns.
8. Regulate our financial markets and stop giving billions to Wall Street for “our own good.”
9. And, of course reducing the costs of medical care and providing health care for everyone.
I doubt that either of the existing parties is going to address these essential issues facing our country in a meaningful way.
The millions of grass roots supporters that supported Obama will ultimately rise up and a new “Progressive Party’ will evolve.
To disclose my political affiliations, I was a Registered Republican for 40 years and now am Independent.