For those that I have spoken with at length on this topic, it is no surprise to say that I am discontented with our political process. It is a broken machine that no one is willing to admit to, instead paying it lip service just to say “It has always been this way”. In the business world, that phrase is said to be a death knell for any company who uses that as their battle cry. So why is it acceptable for our country’s infrastructure to operate under the same premise? Or even better, why is it acceptable for that to be our battle cry when, for a quick look at the books, you find that it hasn’t always been this way?
Birth Of A Country
When the United States came in to existence, there were no political parties. George Washington was not elected as the first president because he offered to build a wall between Canada and the United States. He was not elected president because of his extensive experience. He was elected president because he was a hero. He won the election out of a crowded field of 12 candidates (though some would say he was unopposed). He had led this group of people who were not happy with the governing practices under which they suffered to a successful rebellion. The British were gone, and everyone was now Americans.
So everyone was now Americans. That was a sentiment that didn’t last for long. Without a big, bad enemy to oppose, Americans started opposing each other. One person said the country should be run this way. Another person said the country should be run that way. POOF! Now we have political parties. This happened during George’s first term. He even joined with one of the parties. They were the Federalists and the Anti-Federalists.
If you look at different source, you will see that there have been numerous political parties. Some will say elections were between two people when they were really between six. There is a lot of truth out there, and truth according to revisionist rose-colored glasses.
The Life & Death of Political Parties
One fact is that political parties have been living, breathing organisms. Several parties have come and gone. The parties we have around now are not the parties we started with. Values among people of the nation ebb and flow. Change is inevitable. How many ways can I say it before you stand up and tell me to cut out the corny statements?
- National Republican
- Free Soil
- National Union
- New Alliance
- State’s Rights
- Union Labor
- etc……..you get the idea?
Success of “Third Party” Candidates
There have been numerous elections where you have 3 or more candidates running for president. Anyone not from the major parties are referred to as Third Party candidates for the fact that in the modern political era, there has never been more than a third serious contender to challenge for the White House.
Any guesses on who was the most successful third party candidate?
Strom was from South Carolina. Most who would know him, know him as the now second longest serving U.S. Senator in history. He served 48 years, leaving office at the age of 100. Earlier in his career, he had been a state senator in South Carolina, as well as the governor of South Carolina.
After one year in the governor’s mansion, Thurmond ran in the 1948 presidential race representing the State’s Rights party. His campaign earned nearly 40 electoral votes.
As a side note, Thurmond entered the U.S. Senate as a Democrat. However, he changed his affiliation to Republican mid-career.
Why Only Two Parties?
In the beginning, the prevalence of two major parties in the presidential race was a statistical issue. Two candidates would have talking points that covered more than 90% of the population’s opinions. Why vote for a fringe candidate? However, two parties didn’t always mean the same two parties. Ideologies shifted, followed by loyalties shifting. Sometimes people jumped ship, supporting a new party. Other times, as in the case of the Whig Party, support just died on the vine. They tried to make things business as usual longer than they feasibly could.
Now, two parties are about money, power, and control.
The Tea Party
Ok, personally, I think the Tea Party people are just whacked in the head. They want to invoke imagery of the Boston Tea Party. They want their followers to see them as revolutionaries. They talk a good game. Once they got voted in, everyone looked at them like they had two heads.
The Tea Party was created as a faction of the Republican Party. Why? Money.
Ted Cruz (R) gets enough money to get elected. Ted Cruz (T) is a footnote in history. Some people wish they could just see it listed as Ted Cruz (TP) and get it over with, but I digress.
The Political Mob
Republicans and Democrats are basically the mob. They have a stranglehold on the political scene. If you don’t want to call them a mob, then call them a monopoly. However you term it, we have federal laws and regulations that prohibit both.
So this political mob has been in existence long enough that we as a nation have known no else. Our grandparents hammered in the notion of being a good Democrat or Republican in to our parents, and they in turn have hammered that in to us. But now, we as a country blindly follow a political party in name only. What do candidates bring to the table? Will they be a good leader? Do they have their own interest in mind, or do they have your interest in mind?
So many people running for secondary office already know this. They do register with one of the major political parties, but then they don’t advertise who they are with unless they have to. They make it about the issues. People are starting to listen to them more.
Sitting politicians are also starting to break ranks and look at what is best for the country. Bastions of political ideologies are breaking ranks as well. Why do We The People not break those same ranks?
Fund a new political party.
Call To Action
I’m not writing all this to tell anyone who to support. I just ask that you not be a lemming. Don’t blindly follow a candidate without doing your own homework. Decide for yourself what is important, then find the person espousing those things and support them. We have five people running for president this year. Statistically, the two top vote-getters will be the two representing the donkey and the elephant.
Those Who Do Not Learn From History…
The year was 1824. There was only one political party in existence. So, political in-fighting among top leaders of the single party was not sorted out prior to the national election. Instead, it was the national election. Four people were still in the race come election day. No one received a plurality of electoral votes. No one even won a majority of the popular vote. So, per the provisions of the 12th amendment, the election was thrown to the House of Representatives among the top three vote-getters. John Quincy Adams, who had come in second place in the national election, was selected by a majority of the House.
In the election of 2016, there does not exist a candidate outside of the two majors parties with a statistical chance of winning the national election. However, if a third party candidate can disrupt the election just enough to invoke the provisions of the 12th amendment, the top leaders of both major parties can perhaps take a closer look and see if that third person is more level headed and competent than the top two are now. Different sentiments, but the same situation as 1824 is possible.
Why Is This The Final Word?
I do not plan on engaging in any further discussion of a political nature this year. If this causes you to rethink your approach at how you will use your vote, then I have accomplished something monumental. Statistics show that this will lead to nowhere, leaving this just what it started as, a diatribe.
Also published on Medium.