Friday, August 04, 2006

Let's Start from the Very Beginning

To begin with, I think I should say what it is that brought me here in the first place:

A little over a year ago, a friend and I were having a long political discussion about the true state of the union. The first thing we agreed on was that America, politically speaking, stands at a cross-roads. What choices lay ahead for America? Either something happens to take America into a new wave of true democracy or we simply let the country slowly slip into a totalitarian state. In short, we will soon see whether the "Great Experiment" lives or dies.

I cannot nor will not lay the blame entirely on President Bush. The problem has existed far before his presidency; he is merely the latest and perhaps the most skilled thus far at manipulating the failings of the system. The problem I speak of is commented on at the top of this blog: partisan politics. Why do I choose to view this as the worst problem facing America? Because such a system does NOT represent the American public.

The root cause of partisan politics is the desire and the need to "win" the election. If you don't "win" the election (as if it were some sort of prize rather than a public trust), you are obviously a loser and, under our system, losers get nothing. As a rather logical response, people wishing to run for office have banded together to assist getting each other elected. The black and white win/loss system has fairly well guaranteed that only two parties can truly be in power at any time in history. (History reminder: parties that have been in power have included Federalists, Whigs, Republicans, and Democrats.) By itself this would probably not have caused major problems for our country. However, each party has decided that it will only support members who agree with the ideals put forth by the party leaders. This has, of course, caused the traditional "party lines" to form with the Democrats on the left and the Republicans on the right.

Warning, statistical reasoning ahead.

Even without any party leaders pushing the party further left or further right, a party generated in a two party system that aligns itself based on political dogma cannot accurately represent the general populous. The reasoning is that of simple statistical distributions: if one were to survey the general population to gauge their views as left or right, it could be reasonably expected that the results would be a bell curve centered on the center of the political spectrum (i.e. the majority of the population hold moderate viewpoints, just a little left or right of center). Were a second survey conducted asking respondents whether they identified more with the republicans or democrats, the results would logically show distributions with the average no longer in the center but skewed towards either the left or the right.

So what? How is that a problem? Well, the leaders of the party (left or right) are elected by the majority of that party alone, resulting in leftward leaning and rightward leaning leaders, neither of which support the majority viewpoint of the American Public. This problem has been compounded by the fact that voters tend to be galvanized into action (i.e. voting) by a leader seen as truly radical and thus, even further from the center. Both parties have learned that people towards the center of the political spectrum have become disenfranchised by a system that never produces a candidate with centrist views and, as such, has resulted in a very low voter turnout indeed.

The solution, then, is a simple one: Get rid of political parties forever. Practically speaking, however, this is nearly impossible since neither party in power right now has any incentive to see such a thing happen. So how could this be done? By the creation of a new kind of party, one that does not align itself based on political leanings, but rather one that welcomes anyone who honestly wants to see positive change in our government. Left, right, center - as long as one is willing to listen to others, debate, and compromise, then he or she would be welcome in this new party.

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At Sun Aug 06, 03:20:00 PM EDT, Blogger Boston Patriot said...

Your statistical analysis seems to me to be an accurate assessment of the current political situation in the United States. I tend to agree with you. The American media, influenced by ratings (and therefore advertising dollars) has spent most of the last two elections (and this upcoming one) covering the exaserbating tensions of the extremist few, while the rest of us roll our eyes in irritation--left hopelessly impotent in the face of a cyclictic polito-dogmatic nightmare.

I saw an interesting colored map not too long ago. Unfortunately I forgot the link for reference sake, but it illustrates your point almost to a t (or in this case... color). You may have seen the Red-Blue map printed in USA Today after the unexplainable win of President Bush. In the USA today map, it showed voter trends by counties, giving a slightly more accurate picture of Red vs. Blue America. The other map I saw actually took credence in the strength of the win by a particular party, shading or in some cases blending the colors to show how well each party did. In some cases you saw bold reds or bold blues (Boston and Austin come to mind), but in the case of most counties, you saw lightly shaded purples, indicating a virtual split. I personally think that this map reflects your thinking of a bell curve, and not that of a widening gap.

For the moment, just a thought... one worth continued consideration.


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