This Sunday (11-09-2014), the CBS program Face the Nation aired interviews with both current President Barrack Obama and former President George W. Bush. Obama discussed the final leg of his presidency working with Republican majorities in both houses of Congress and George W., aka Bush-43, discussed his book on his father, Bush-41, who we now prototype as George H, W. Bush (we just called him George Bush before his son got elected president in 2000).
One thing that struck a chord with me after listening to both interviews is the possibility, as America moves further into the twenty-first century is the prospect of the two-party system becoming a three party system. The two interviews were very different with respect to details, but both men spoke about the difficulty of working with the opposition. With face-to-face conversation going the way of high-button shoes and electronic devices and social media taking over, there is little to no accountability with respect to anything said about anyone; let alone in the political arena. The analogy I use in many blog articles applies in Washington more and more today; Washington has become a broken clock and those empowered to repair it have permanently place the big hand on the twelve and the little hand on the five and have hung a sign below the clock face reading IT’S FIVE O’CLOCK SOMEWHERE. Both affiliated and unaffiliated voters want the clock working again, not humored or insulted by those we elected to uphold the Constitution and ensure America keeps on ticking!
The broken clock and the loss of faith voters have in both parties is the perfect breeding ground for the establishment of a third party. I am not referring to the temporary coalitions that allowed John Anderson to run in 1980 and H. Ross Perot to run in 1992, I am talking about a new party brand with a full ballot of candidates on election days to come. Neither Anderson nor Perot had congressional candidates on Row C, as it were. The last man to get elected President without the backing of any major party was Millard Fillmore; a benevolent soul, but ineffective as nobody in Congress could coattail with him and still maintain their loyalty and commitments to their respective parties. What is coming is far bigger than Anderson, Perot, or even Fillmore. We will see a ballot with rows A, B, and C, all with unique names in all columns, not just the first column. An alternative to the two-party system for registered voters.
This may seem like a breath of fresh air based on the rhetoric alone, but I fear at the end of the day, many Americans sold on the concept are going to exclaim careful what you wish for. The two-party system was established to ensure majority rule, and not plurality rule; a term that doesn’t even exist in either the Federalist Papers or the Constitution. But with three in the race, the dividing line is moved from 50% to 33 1/3% paving the way for a victories for both candidates and bills with only 34%. We push the worry button when our President’s approval rating hits that 40% figure; imagine what we can expect if the starting line is moved to 34. The legislative machine in Washington now turning at a snail’s pace may turn at the speed of light, but less than half of Americans will be satisfied with what it will produce; not to mention, it could produce items that are destructive to American Democracy harder to check and balance if it can pass with only 34%.
What kind of party would this new party be? It could only start one way; a hybrid party liberal on some things and conservative on others. There is no other way it could get started. Regardless whether a nation has one, two, or more parties, an issue (or a bill) can only have two sides, aye or nay. If Party-1 is aye and Party-2 is nay, Party-3 has to be aye or nay, putting them in solidarity with one or the other. They cannot begin as a shadow of either the Republican or Democrat party because the justification for their existence is to be an alternative for Democrats, Republicans, and unaffiliated voters disgusted with the whole damn system! But they could morph into a shadow of one or the other the longer they exist in America.
What is the best way average Americans can survive a three-party system? The best thing America can to either prevent it or keep the gears of democracy turning properly is to create a generation of High Information Voters. Talk show pundit Rush Limbaugh, a true spokesperson for the conservative agenda in America, loves to talk about how Low Information Voters are ruining America and that getting to young people just about to turn eighteen and re-educate older voters and have the presidency and other important offices decided by High Information Voters. How social media and technology can be a good thing once we learn to use it properly. The seed of criticism stems from the fact that he does own his own broadcast network, therefore, can’t fire himself, and there is only minimal checking on the correctness of the information he provides and his sources and referrals. The difference in a three-party America with Low Information Voters and with High Information Voters is astronomical.
Applying the laws of logic to the truth tables needed to explain political phenomena in this century, we cannot change the fact that even with three parties, there are still only two possibilities, true of false in exact sciences and mathematics; aye or nay in social and inexact sciences like politics. Ultimately, this means at least two of three have to be on the same side with respect to any issue and the third party could very well be the bridge that makes American Democracy once again, the government of the people, by the people, for the people. But with Low Information Voters, formal logic collapses and a warped three-way logic, or better worded, pseudo-logic will evolve.
Until the World Series, the Super Bowl, the NBA Championship Series, or the Stanley Cup Championship Series with only two team remaining in competition, sports leagues from the majors right on down to that small town community little league, have a lot more than two teams. As fans, we don’t (or shouldn’t) pick our sports teams the same way we decide which political party to affiliate with, if either [any]. We can become fans of New York teams just because we grew up in the tri-state area, or become Yankee fans because they are the most storied franchise in the history of the world (the two factors combined has a lot to do with why I chose the Mets), or become a Giants fan because of Willie Mays, a Braves fan because of Hank Aaron, or a Red Sox fan because of Carl Yastrzemski. If we are loyal fans, we stick with our favorite team win or lose. We stand behind a uniform, a city, a tradition. Sports is art imitating life. It is a way to show our competitive spirit, but for fans like me who were never professional athletes, sports is a retreat from reality and or sets of problems, a way to relax and put our troubles aside for three hours or so. Therefore, formal logic is not required when deciding what sports teams for which we choose to be fans and prefer. Politics, on the other hand, is not a spectator sport. Democracy is the serious business of America. A three-party system in an arena composed with mostly Low Information Voters will result in people picking one of the three parties and being loyal to that party just because they are one’s personal home team, and you play to win the game!
The same three-party arena with High Information Voters gives it a fighting chance. The one drawback to the two-party system is it forces us to accept the platform of the candidate and party we choose in-total. Not only myself, but a majority of voters, and for that matter, the candidate may agree with 85% of the Republican platform and disagree with 15%; yet as voters in a representative democracy voting for people, not bills, we the voters are not empowered to line item veto, as it were, the party platform on election day. This Johnny Come Lately party could potentially address that 15% discrepancy and either sway [Republican] voters to their side or cajole the chief engineer of the Republican platform as well as the candidate to adjust and make our party candidate more palatable. Pluralities could be converted to majorities as elected officials on all three sides apply the Platonian dialectic method (thesis + antithesis = synthesis) until equilibrium is reached just as our Founding Fathers intended government to work.
With Hilary Clinton, the most flawed person either party could conjure, testing deeper and deeper waters and most-likely will be the Democrat party nominee, the Republicans lacking a superstar that cannot only ensure victory over Mrs. Clinton, but could sell Republican ideals lost at the marketplace for the last six years; and grass-roots G.O.P. Republicans standing in the conservative limelight, yet still intimidated by the cast of characters in the Tea Party, I am making an early prediction two years into the future that the Tea Party will break away from the G.O.P. and establish themselves as a party of their own and not only a three-person race for the presidency, but congressional Tea Party candidates as well, will compose the 2016 election. The best way for America to work and play in that arena is to become High Information Voters.