By WILLIAM TRUE
I have a problem with the American political system. It’s not the size of government, nor the ridiculous amount of time it takes to get anything done. To paraphrase a quote from Hamlet, something is rotten in American politics, and it’s our two-party system.
On the left, we have a party whose strength is in its platform. On abortion, the Democratic party’s pro-choice position holds a distinct edge, with less than 25 percent of the country condemning the procedure.
On health-care reform, which among other things requires insurance companies to insure people with preexisting conditions, a clear majority of the country wants the reforms to stand rather than be repealed.
On the rights of gays to marry, a clear majority supports it becoming legal. Even on gun control, a majority desire stricter regulation, including a ban on the assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, both of which recently reared their ugly heads during the tragic shootings in Tucson.
On almost every social and foreign issue and most fiscal issues, Democrats hold a clear advantage.
The problem for the Democratic party lies in its inability to stand firm under criticism.
Even with overwhelming support for a public health care option, when pressed by Republicans, the Democrats decided it wasn’t worth the effort and removed the provision.
Obama has expressed time and time again his desire to cooperate with a party that has no desire to do anything other than sabotage his administration. Instead of defending their policies, Democrats regularly take a back seat to a party whose explicit goal is obstruction.
On the right, we have the polar opposite of the Democratic party, not just in political ideology but in demeanor.
Despite having America’s popular opinion only on economic and budget issues, the Republicans were able to gain control of the House and make up ground in the Senate.
Republicans are a prime example of “style over substance” by using strong language, fiery rhetoric and a vicious assault on the weaknesses of the Democratic party, they have effectively masked their relatively unpopular positions behind the persona of the “people’s party.”
While I believe that their constant cries of “socialism!” “Real America!” and “Fascism!” are deplorable and insulting to our country’s intelligence, the results speak for themselves.
So here we are, left with two flawed parties. One has the right ideas but the collective spine of a jellyfish and the other has the wrong ideas but the kind of rhetoric that gets people to listen.
There are, of course, various offshoots of both parties.
The tea party movement uses folksy conservative rhetoric, as her leaders like Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin. Thus far, they have achieved fair political success despite mind-boggling gaffes and factual errors that seem like a career in politics is predicated on sounding like a cartoon character.
There are also the Blue Dog Democrats, who describe themselves as “moderate” Democrats, but are best known for abandoning the party line and siding with conservatives to block any potential policy change.
What is a liberal like myself to do?
I believe in the Democratic party’s platform for the most part. If anything, I often I find myself to their left. Yet I cannot stand the cowardice of Democratic leadership and their inability to hold firm against conservative scrutiny.
I don’t want the party’s dialogue to devolve into name-calling, finger-pointing and chalkboard tirades that clog the airwaves, yet it seems that this kind of rhetoric somehow appeals to the public.
Maybe you’re a conservative who feels the same way. You may like your party’s platform, but detest their divisive dialogue and constant demonization of the left.
Or maybe you’re somewhere in the middle, and the flaws of both Democrats and Republicans are making you wonder why we only have two political parties.
So if you refuse to subscribe to party lines, grow weary of people calling each other Nazis or are sick of seeing nothing change in Washington, do something. Tell people what you think.
Don’t be afraid. That’s what I did, and although I’m writing for “the man,” at least you can see me.