It should come as no surprise that I'm one of many Americans dissatisfied with our current political system. Corruption, politics, and an all or nothing attitude caused by having to keep party extremists happy in order to continue to get donations for campaigns have caused our system to spiral more and more out of control with every day. What is unusual about me is the fact I don't blame the politicians, we've done this to ourselves.
A few weeks back one of my friends posted a picture that basically tried to make the case that the Republicans had no room to talk about some of the current scandals in the Obama administration because Bush's had ones as bad or worse. I'm not going to take the time to debate the relative failings of either administration here, suffice to say that as far as I'm concerned they both have done things that fall somewhere between stupid and morally reprehensible. That image set off alarm bells in my head that have been slowly getting louder and louder in my head, because it's clear that a disturbing number of people think just that.
The conclusion I've come to is the fundamental flaw is not in the political system itself, but in the way the typical American has come to view the parties. An alarming number of people in the States have come to see the parties as sports teams rather then a group of people who share a common philosophy of government. We rail at the other party for the mildest of infractions, while accusing them of partisan politics anytime they catch our side doing something. We tend to ignore independents or third party candidates even when they're more qualified or share our values simply because they don't belong to one of the two parties with the bigger bankroll, especially in national elections. Because of this many of the people in Washington develop and attitude that they can do no wrong, no mater how bad it gets their base will stand behind them and support them through whatever storm the other side can drum up. The sad thing is that in many cases it's true. We allow behavior that in any other sector of society would be considered criminal to be brushed under the rug with a simple well acted apology. We gobble up soundbites and misleading headlines of our favorite news sites without bothering to read the details that hold the truth, and even worse we purposely avoid getting a second take on the story.
The worst part is that it doesn't have to be this way. Our system, perhaps foolishly, was designed to run without political parties, and in fact our first President deliberately avoided joining one. Perhaps even more telling is the fact that under the original constitution the Vice President was not on a joint ticket with the President, it went to the person who got the second most electoral college votes. Picture that if you will, President Obama and Vice President Romney. So many of the third parties focus on the Presidential election, even though there's hardly any chance of them winning due to the way the press covers elections. Personally I think it's time for a more grassroots approach. We live in a time that is ripe for change. The social media explosion is making it easier then ever to get new ideas out to a large number of people and many of the third parties are taking advantage of this to strengthen their numbers and the volume of their message, but like everything in politics it comes down to We the People.
The obvious question here is: What can I do? The answers is almost as obvious, you need to get involved. Personally I identify with the Libertarians best of all, but I'm not here to preach for them. I want you to go out, do your legwork and find the party that fits for you, no mater how big or small. If that leads you back to the Democrats or Republicans then by all means, go there. You have as much right to the political process as the rest of us. For those who fall somewhere else, know that anything you can give will be appreciated more, and possibly make more of a difference, be it time, money, or just a repost on Facebook simply because of the harder time they have drumming up interest. Push them towards local elections, every dog catcher or school board member counts, with the goal of moving up eventually to where third parties are showing up in State Legislatures. Once that starts happening we can truly begin to break the back of the national parties and hopefully reign in a Government that is becoming more and more out of touch with the people it claims to serve.