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Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Breaking Down the Big Tent

As the fallout from the Reverend Wright show continues, I find myself thinking once again about our American two-party political system. And once again, I conclude that it is robbing us of a rich variety of possible candidates and viewpoints.

We progressive-liberal-commie pinko types are always complaining that no candidate really represents our interests. Well, believe it or not, I hear that from conservative and independent types, too. Or do we really think that most Republicans are happy with Mr. 28% Job Approval? And what about their Congresscritters, who, if we watch C-SPAN, appear to have the collective intelligence of styrofoam? At this point, no one is happy, because the Big Tents of Republicans and Democrats are, well, too big. Trying to grow large enough to make it fit tends to bloat our candidates and make them slow and sleepy. You know, like eating too many carbs at lunch.

Just imagine if there were a proportional representation system in this country, and we had multiple parties representing various constituencies. Oh, I know that we would all still be complaining, but at least we would know that our representatives actually, you know, believed what we did and were pushing our agenda in Congress. Wouldn't that be loverly? And even better, the fringier portions of our electorate would only make up a fringie-ish part of our Congress. Yes, I'm talking to you, rightwing wackos!

Let's apply this to Barack Obama and his controversial pastor, Reverend Wright. Suppose there were a Black Liberation Party (the "BLP"), for example, that consisted of African Americans that subscribe to the views of Pastor Wright, which he classifies as Black Liberation Theology on the TUCC website. Should Senator Obama choose to be a member of that party, he would not have to renounce his pastor, mentor and friend of 20 years in order to run for office. He could simply state that he was a member of the BLP, and whoever ascribed to those views would vote for him. Presto-change-o, no pandering, no pretending. WYSIWYG.

Now, would these views make him eligible for the office of the President of the United States? I don't think so, personally, but if he could get enough votes as a representative of the BLP, then so be it!

This type of system only works if we put several other reforms in place as well. So, since I am borrowing Hillary's Queen of the Universe powers for the day, I hereby decree that:
  1. Proportional representation now exists in America.
  2. All elections are now publicly funded. Yes, you'd have to pay an extra $20 a year on your taxes. Get over it. Think of how much less time your representative would have to spend on the phone raising money from evil oil and insurance companies. Why, they might even be able to get some work done!
  3. All candidates running for national office (President or Congresscritter) get equal, limited teevee time for advertising. The networks would provide it for free, in recompense for their use of the public airwaves to broadcast their mostly mindless drivel.
  4. All political parties are legitimate if they can meet certain criteria. Let's say, X number of signatures and X number of meetings per year. (At last, we would see what real far-left liberals look like. Those words do not mean what Bill O'Reilly thinks they mean.)
  5. Finally, there are no more primaries, caucuses, delegates, superdelegates or national conventions when we vote for President. Let the people have their say. There will be one national election weekend, and instant run-off voting will decide the winning ticket. Largest amount of votes = President. Second largest = Vice President. Bada bing, bada boom, Betty Boop.

Now, there is a danger that this new system could get a bit messy. (Notice my hitherto unseen gift for understatement.) But dammit, real democracy IS MESSY, but vibrant. Wouldn't that be better than messy, but decrepit?

I say let's go for change that is not just an empty slogan. Power to the people!


Flying Junior said...

It must feel wonderfully liberating living so close to the John Lennon Memorial Garden in Central Park. "You may say..." Well, of course, you're not the only one.

It is a captivating idea that not all Republicans go along with the earth-scorching policies of the Bush/Satan administration. I wonder if there is any truth to it? Do you suggest that the two-party system worked at one time, but now has played out to its inevitable end game of horror; the despotism of party so eloquently predicted by General Washington in his farewell address?

You know, in these days of hard and fast gridlock, the idea of a coalition government does sound pretty good. That would probably mean that we would have a prime minister in place of our executive. He would naturally be elected by his fellow parliamentarians from the majority party. Time for a new constitutional convention. It has been over 220 years!

The craziest thing would be that politicians could vote their conscience and beliefs instead of doing what they are told.

Flying Junior said...

I can't believe I referred to the new prime minister as a "he!" I'm so hopelessly chauvinist. But I am a classic case of an Obamaniac who switched to Hillary.

Mark Leslie Woods said...

Great post!

Your premise exposes the fact that although ahead of its time in 1776, the American democratic 'experiment' could use some tweaking.

IMHO, sending more U.S. kids abroad between high school and college would open their eyes to see that most European countries have better models of democratic organization, having developed later and having been nearly destroyed and re-assembled by successive world wars, etc.

My solution for the U.S. is greater federalism - this means devolving more powers to states and letting them have more autonomy within a union, not within the identity or structure of a country exceeding 350 million people (territories included or not).

The U.S. system has too much unwieldiness to work any more, IMO. Break up the country into smaller units based upon true local democracy and accept the good and the bad of smaller but better, more accountable government.

Europe has already been down the same road the U.S. is suffering these days and is trend-setting with the regional 'devolutionary' movement.

Wait until it catches on in the states -- it's coming -- it will start as inter-state secessionism movements, i.e., N. Florida versus s. Florida and evolve into political structures playing catch up with popular realities.

My favorite is the fantasy where the northern U.S. blue states join Canada and the rest becomes "Jesusland'. Funny but true.

madamab said...

I love all these ideas that I'm hearing! I'm keeping this post up another day in hopes that more people will share their thoughts about moving our great experiment forward.

And yes, flying junior, I know for sure that many Republicans are not happy with Bush. His approval ratings are consistently going down within his own party. Plus, I've read a lot of anecdotes about how many are switching parties for this election. People are just fed up.