What's Wrong Our Version of a Two-Party System?

The truth is that for us citizens it is not useful in its present form.

The two parties are – in reality – two versions of one thing: self-interested and playing as a team only in terms of partisan loyalties. It’s destructive and is the primary reason why primarily unreasonable and poorly qualified candidates sometimes get elected with disastrous results.

I grant you that between to two major-party candidates running last year, Hilary Clinton was clearly the more qualified to function as an executive. The winner, Donald Trump, by his actions has already proven that fact. The rest of that truth is that during the primary campaign the Republican Party had to choose from a pool of 16 versions of Donald Trump, albeit perhaps less aggressive or abrasive or tactless. What was obvious was how their principal claims to fame were the assortment of ways they could hack at candidate Clinton rather than talking their own policy and craft. What was also obvious was that an enculturated voting base wanted them to do exactly and only that.

However, had Mrs. Clinton won, we would have immediately returned to a business-as-usual reality buttressed mostly by Democratic promises to pay attention to the little folks with the Republicans attempting to obstruct everything the Dems put forth in the name of protecting the little folks from straw-man politicians.

… with the lobbyists and their Corporate Government Welfare sponsors spending themselves silly and making us look sillier.
Ring of Fire co-host Farron Cousins offers this:

The Democratic Party spent $1 billion in 2016 to lose. They lost the presidency. They didn’t win back the house. They didn’t get the senate. One billion dollars, to lose. In the last six years, the Democratic Party, Democratic candidates, have lost more than 1,000 races across this country, statewide and national. One thousand races. The Democratic Party, today, is at its weakest point in 75 years. Seventy-five years! In my lifetime, the Democratic Party has not been as week as it is right at this very second.
They can only blame themselves at this point, because when you look around, when you see what’s happened to the Democratic Party, it’s exactly what the Republican Party was back in 2004 and 2008. Those of us who were in this business during that time recognize the problems with the Republican Party and why they were such pieces of crap. They were taking money from corporations, consistently ruling for those corporations and against the American public. God, back in 2004 and through 2008, almost every story that we did, we just followed the money to find out why a Republican voted a certain way. And there it is. Oh, they voted to open up the Arctic for drilling, because they took all this money from the oil companies.
Today, the Democratic party of 2017 is identical to the Republican Party of 2004. There’s no difference between the two except on a few social issues. That’s where the Democrats still have a little bit of support, that’s why they still have a little bit of support. Because, hey, we’re for equality, so vote for us. We’re still going to take money from corporations. We’re still going to screw you over just like the Republicans do, but we’re going to claim to be better on social issues even though every issue, environmental, economic, those are all social issues as well. Because minorities are disproportionately more affected by environmental issues and economic collapses.
That is a fact. But the Democrats don’t want you to know that part. They think that they can continue going out there hosting these million dollar fundraisers and tell us that they rule for the people. They think they can go out there, take all this money from Wall Street, all this money from the oil industry and gas industry and coal, and tell us that, “No, we’re going to protect the environment. We’re going to enact strict banking regulations.”
I attended a meeting in Olympia a few years ago for Washington State blogger-activists during which time a presentation was made on how to run for Congress. At the time the Congressional candidate-in-waiting was Darcy Burner who eventually ran against Republican Dave Reichert twice and lost.
The presenters on “how to run for Congress” began by touting/advertising their skills as candidate-polishers, candidate-groomers and candidate-spinmeisters. Subsequently they spent most of their time emphasizing the need for candidates to anchor themselves in their campaigns as money-raisers first and foremost; not civic-minded citizens, not statespersons, not negotiators, not compromisers and not consensus builders … only money raisers.
Obviously when it comes to running for public office in this country, money is the first speaker on the dais.

Money talks … Money makes offers … Money makes deals. Money prostitutes itself, dangling there - the most voluptuous and alluring temptation candidates can expect to encounter.

Political careers that often commence with the highest of civic motives seem mostly to deteriorate into worshipful liturgies dedicated to greed and holding on to power (not necessarily in that order.)

What party a person belongs to in pursuit of candidacy does not really matter. What a candidate is really doing is trying out for the team. Politics as a profession is for a golfer, a tennis player, a boxer, a chess player, a musician, a singer or even a stand-up comic. None of those players need be team players.

In this country politics seems to have devolved entirely to an obscene version of team sports.  It’s a version that resembles more than anything else pro-football’s Super Bowl where the team with the most gifted throwers and catchers go up against the other team’s toughest and meanest bruisers. Depending on who has the ball, it is nothing more than a winner-take-all contest. Sportsmanship is secondary to every device of strategy including sneaky tactics, trick plays and frequent penalties. Every flag-thrown challenge and every celebratory dance in the end zone in front of an adoring national audience encourages the teams AND the audience toward WINNING as “the only thing” (to quote Lawgiver Lombardi.)

Unless successful as a rare independent, when a candidate runs, he does so having signed on as a member of a party which will essentially call the shots for every play the winning candidate makes once elected. The new victorious politician is nothing more than a junior member of one of two exclusive clubs now.  It’s not unlike grooming and educating one’s self to become an attorney and then successfully self-recruiting into a firm as a new junior associate. Party leadership then steps in front of the victorious politician’s priority (constituency), whether the newbie admits it or not … and commences dictating the terms of the new working relationship. It’s a relationship “good old boys” regardless of gender.

Both parties do this pretty much the same way. One then plays as a member of a team that is either running offense or defense – not on behalf of the American public – but against the opposing party.

I did my due diligence online, researching my district’s (Washington 5th) current incumbent Congressperson, Cathy McMorris Rodgers. I inspected her background and her work as my elected representative. I went to her political web site, read her biographic date and examined the list of her accomplishments as a Congressperson.

As a side note, I was immediately reminded of interactions I had with our Senators ten years ago when my wife, Lietta, and I were actively and publicly opposing the Bush administration. Both Patty Murray and Maria Cantwell are still in office.

I also remember the first time I sent a letter (online and via the USPS) to one of them. The response was a form letter, devoid of personality and which read like the form response to an application for welfare benefits with Washington State (where I was employed as a case worker.)

The response was canned, impersonal, disinterested and implied that someone of such importance was much too busy to take time to discuss my concerns in person or online in a detailed exchange of views.

Back to my current U.S. Representative. As I read through her list of accomplishments, I was struck by the sum of those accomplishments – which amounted to nothing more than doing her job – what she was elected to do. 

There was nothing outstanding in her list which was written to imply that she had accomplished the kind of spectacular success that a lesser politician might have failed to do. There was nothing in her resume that could not have been as easily accomplished and bragged about by a Democrat.

What is in her particular resume, however, (if you do your research) is that she suborned her priorities to the priorities of her party. In doing so McMorris Rodgers team-worked herself onto the starting party team. In that regard, she and her team did not spend as much time on their constituency concerns as they could have. They were busy wasting tax-payer time attempting to repeal the Affordable Care Act (“Obamacare” to their constituent choirs) more than 50 times since its passage. The statute was enacted in 2010 which means that Republicans wasted money and ignored more pressing problems an average of ten times every year through 2016.

I realize I’m singling out the Republicans here, but after all, she is my elected-and-reelected representative who, since the last election, has vowed to try to repeal Obamacare this year and whose party has made no bones about not yet having a replacement ready. They have got nothing. They have in fact promised “something” in the same vague manner as the snake-oil promises of the victorious candidate Trump.

Money is talking to us, my fellow citizens. It is Big Money talking.

Who is listening most? 
I’ll tell you.

It’s those folks to whom we are paying a nice salary with perks for representing US. These are our elected officials and they are on the receiving end of a very unequal and unfair competition for their loyalty to something other than our needs.

Big Money is that which can offset 100 of us who - after spending lengthy time, blood, sweat and tears trying to come up with $100,000 with which to lobby Congress – can in less than a minute’s time write out a check for the same amount. Then they can hand it across the desk to our representatives while we are still enroute to Washington so we can hand-deliver our hard-won contribution to the same person to gain assistance for our causes.

That is what’s wrong with the American version of the two-party system. Essentially, we have two parties with their hands out for gifts from the same donors – and them donors aint us.

I don’t know what the answer is.

However, candidate Bernie Sanders, who raised enough funding at mostly $27 a pop to effectively compete with Candidate Clinton last year probably represents one solution. Yet Sanders today remains an independent who ran as a Democrat and shocked the entire party with his success.

How about third or fourth or fifth party movements? I’d like to see more of that sort of activism. It seems like this cycle is a good time to encourage more interest in political advocacy.

The problem with party identification, however, is the impact on one’s self-identity. There is no way - in a system of however many parties we have – that we need ever consider ourselves clones of one set of definitions pertaining to a party identity.

If I call myself conservative am I expected to reflect all the conventional and contemporary conservative stereotypes as portrayed and broadcast via our sources of informed citizenship?

If I call myself liberal, progressive or libertarian am I expected to reflect all the conventional and contemporary liberal, progressive or libertarian stereotypes as portrayed and broadcast via our sources of informed citizenship?

I think not.

For me independent works.

For our forefathers independence worked.

That’s good enough for me.