There's no doubt that I've got problems with our political landscape these days. Our government has eroded our civil liberties, has ruined our reputation abroad, has trashed our economy and has basically wreaked havoc since September 11th. When I sit back and think about it, I realize that the Bush White House is not to blame at all. In fact they should be applauded for the incredible stuff they have been able to pull off. They are evil, yes, but they are also quite intelligent. They have worked the system in ways that nobody has ever imagined. They have used the system to do whatever they have wanted. Their power stems mostly from the Republican majority that has been building in the congress and in the judicial branch. The concept of checks and balances has had no effect and that is due to the Republican Party doing so well electing people.
See, checks and balances can work, but we need to have a larger check in place. We need a strong Democratic Party in place to balance the agenda, to balance the direction. We don't have that right now. The Democratic party is a management disaster, it is stuck in the 70's and 80's and it has never tried to grow up like the GOP has.
I'm not a fan of the two party system. Even if it was working perfectly, I think that it is a recipe for inaction. Essentially you have two groups of people who are by their very nature at odds on every issue possible. That means that every single bill, every single legal challenge, is approached as a battle to be won for one side or another. The theory is that if each party is equally strong, the results will be somewhere in the middle, a perfect compromise. The reality is that the parties are never equally balanced in power and even if they were, having a compromise all the time is hardly the way to change the world. Sometimes, there really is a right way to do something and by having these two opposed parties, working against each other instead of collectively for the greater good, we are cheated out of what is best for ourselves.
Think for a moment how much would get accomplished, think how much good could be done if the two parties set aside the battle of party politics for a moment and tried to work collectively for the countries best interest.
Can we get to that place? Can we reach this utopian government? I think we can if we follow a simple two step plan. First, get the Democratic Party up to speed and balance out the power in federal government and second, overlay on top of the two party system a third party, a common set of beliefs and values that each party member can agree on no matter what side of the aisle or bench they are on.
The first point, I won't talk about much and the reason is that I would simply be re-iterating what has been said already so incredibly well by Jerome Armstrong and Markos Moulitsas Zuniga in their book "Crashing the Gate". If you are a progressive, or a Democrat you should buy this book. This is the user manual for the new Democratic Party. The book outlines what the problems are with the Democratic Party and how we can fix them. It is an amazing read. I can't say enough about this book. Read it and then pass it on to, or buy it for, your friends.
The second point is really why I'm writing today. I don't think I'm alone in saying that I'm a party member who is only there because overall I believe in that party more than the other. In my case I don't believe in overreaching government, I don't believe in unions the way they are right now, I believe wholeheartedly in the free market, I believe that we should be allowed to bear arms, I overwhelmingly believe that religion has no place in government in any capacity, I believe in a woman's right to choose, I believe in stem cells, I believe in evolution (mostly). So what party should I be in? My beliefs and values don't put me in either party. And I'm not really in the middle between them either. Is my situation uncommon? I bet it isn't.
But I'm a Democrat, and let me tell you that when I hear someone is a Republican I immediately loose respect for them. How is that possible? Am I just stereotyping? I don't think so. Being a member of either party is a choice that goes beyond core beliefs in the party positions. Or maybe, in my case at least, it is an absolute hatred for one particular party position that makes all the others pale in importance. Who knows? My point is, to govern well, we really don't need to care.
I've been intrigued by the Concord Party lately. This is a small group (growing, join now!) of really smart people from all ends of the political spectrum who have this plan to form a third party. A party where issues are debated intelligently and party platforms are not set in stone from the get go. Go check out their mission statement, I’ll wait.
The Concord party is in its infancy and it may never take the form that it aspires to. But it does show us that there are people (and I think there are a lot of them) who want to make government better and who see that it's not going to happen with the traditional Democratic and Republican battle.
My plan, and the plan I will propose to the Concords, and really fight for is that we don't need to be a third party. We can be something different. We can be a 'party' on top of the current two party system. We can be the common ground that is needed between the D's and R's. So a Democratic US Senator can sit in a room and hash out a bill with a Republican Senator as agreeing Concords instead of traditional party enemies. The Concord party can have, perhaps, a contract of sorts that leaders must follow to remain members. A contract of values like integrity, respect for differing opinions, etc. Once politicians see that their enemies actually have some common goals, think of what can be accomplished.
Obviously there needs to be much discussion on this issue. I'm going to start the discussion on the Concord forums and who knows where it will go. I would really appreciate it if all of you joined up in the discussion. We really need to get some changes happening in government. And I don’t think that if the Democrats come into power, anything other than 4-8 years of revenge will occur. We’ve more important things to do with our country.