My Gradual Disillusionment with the American Two-Party Political System - With Thoughts on the 2016 Election
Beating a Dead Horse?
Just days ago I composed a lengthy harangue on the relatively successful campaigns of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the purpose of which was to ask the question of whether the widespread appeal of these "non-mainstream" candidates signifies the beginning of the end of the American two-party system.
I had a lot of hope for Bernie Sanders, I must admit. I saw photos of his rallies showing stadiums packed with up to 60,000 people. My son went to a Bernie event locally and couldn't get in - the house was packed and he had to stand outside. On the other hand, I recently saw a snapshot of a Hilary Clinton affair that had about a dozen people, and two of them were waving Bernie signs.
Surely this must be evidence that Sanders is kicking Clinton's butt, right?
Boy was I wrong. How naive of me to believe that this overwhelming flood of pro-Bernie good feeling on the Internet and riding irrepressibly high on our college campuses must equate to success at the polls.
It hasn't happened. I concede defeat. It looks like Hilary Clinton really does have a massive appeal to the majority of Democratic voters, and I just missed it. Alleged election malfeasance on the part of her powerful friends in the Democratic National committee and in the California political machine - in other words cheating, is not by itself enough to explain her ultimate victory. Therefore, I reluctantly admit that, based on the current set of rules, Hilary's victory was fair and square.
Since Ms. Clinton did her twerking victory dance on Tuesday, June 8, the Bernie supporters who used to proudly flood my Facebook feed seem to have meekly crawled back under their rocks, where they take refuge while molting into their pro-Hilary skins. Meanwhile, the devoutly pro-Hilary minions who used to flutter about like nervous gnats, sneaking a bite here and there but mostly staying out of the way, have brazenly emerged in blinding, choking swarms. Since Hilary's coronation became inevitable, her devoted, emboldened minions have called me a Nazi for supporting Bernie (who is Jewish, by the way), and have informed me that although I am otherwise an intelligent person, voting for anybody besides her is effectively casting a vote for Donald Trump. Just to be sure there is no confusion, I have also been flat out called f***ing stupid for not supporting the Democratic Diva extraordinaire. So much for freedom of speech.
Although I have finally acknowledged that Hilary is more popular than Bernie and Democracy has triumphed, and although I have taken note of the kind admonishments generously apportioned by the pro-Hilary camp about where my vote should go - I make the pronouncement here that I will never vote for a mainstream candidate of either of the two major parties, Democrat or Republican, ever again. Well, perhaps it would be wise to obey the old adage of never say never. Perhaps a major party candidate of Kennedy-esque proportions will eventually come along and blow me away with his or her sagacity, sincerity, and charisma. I doubt it, but it's possible. Therefore, I will rephrase that statement, and solemnly swear that I will probably never vote for a mainstream candidate of the two major parties, Democrat or Republican, ever again. How's that for unshakeable conviction?
This resolution wasn't something I decided on overnight - it took a lot of thought and soul searching. Perhaps soul purging would be a better term. I believe that we Americans are brainwashed from an early age to believe that the two-party system is what is best for our country, and a powerful enema indeed is needed to flush out this ideological blockage. Once we reach voting age this persistent idea is already tenaciously clinging to the walls of our political souls, and we wrinkle our brows uneasily when some third party wacko tries to challenge it - the same way we do when someone questions our religious beliefs.
What follows, then, is my personal odyssey of how I changed from a steadfast supporter of American politics as usual into a passionate, wild-eyed, fire breathing Independent. It's a bumpy ride, and I'm beating this dead horse up to a lather (It's just a metaphor, PETA people), so fasten your seat belts.
Are We Really Free? - My Flip-flopping Political Odyssey
I grew up with Patrick Henry bellowing "Give me liberty or give me death" from the pages of my textbooks. I proudly believed American was the freest country on Earth, and I think I still do. But this belief is now a relativistic one. Are we really free in terms of freedom of expression? I would say the answer to this is a resounding yes, especially since the Internet has provided a soapbox for people, like myself, who have an opinion and no way to get it across in the politically slanted organs of the mainstream media. There are no government agents pounding on my door (not yet, anyway) because I have dared to question the two-party norm.
But are Americans truly free in regard to who we pick on election day? On this point I am not so certain. Our voting roster consists of the top Democrat dog and the Alpha Republican, along with a host of obscure candidates who cause us to scratch our heads because they are not covered by the media, and we don't know who the hell they are. Is this any better than Communist China Hong Kong "Democracy," where voters are given a list of pre-approved Party candidates to choose from?
From childhood I was gradually indoctrinated into believing the two-party system was the best. It promotes stability, the American Government teacher told us, it keeps us from falling into the chaos those godless commie Europeans find themselves in. We had mock elections in class to drive the beauty of two-party democracy home, and none of these contests featured a third party candidate.Therefore, I could only conclude that the American system was superior, the best yet conceived in the three centuries or so since government by the people gradually supplanted the divine right of Kings.
As I approached voting age, my flip-flopping political odyssey became more serious. A friend of mine dragged me along to a Republican rally in Arizona where his high school band was performing. Barry Goldwater was there. I was young and impressionable, and became hypnotized by the words of that Republican elder statesmen. For many, many years afterward I was a die hard conservative.
Reasonable people change their minds when contrary evidence does not completely explain their world view. Attending college after the navy, I was forced to read "liberal" literature assigned by decidedly "liberal" college professors. I was not so young and impressionable then, but a lot of this liberalism seeped in through the cracks of my conservative bulkhead. I eventually switched to Democrat, and was on board voting for Bill Clinton's reelection in 1996.
Then the raging, free speech suppressing political correctness of the liberal side of the spectrum caused me to change sides again. I did not appreciate the nanny attitude coming across from Democratic brain trust; the smug, maternal mindset that says: We're smarter, better, more enlightened than you, so do what we say.
For a time I went Republican again. Then I started writing.
My Political Damascus Road
One day, in a revelation analogous to what happened to Saint Paul on his way to Damascus to stone infidels, the scales fell from my eyes and I saw the light.
This enlightenment actually didn't take place in a single blinding instant. My political Damascus Road occurred over a period of time, beginning when I started to write online, then culminating when a quote from a book revealed to me I was flip-flopping because I believed I had to be bound to an ideology, and none of the available ideologies were sufficiently satisfying. That was when the last scale fell from my eyes and I could see. Perhaps the strong Puritanical religious system in the United States indoctrinates Americans, consciously or not, that we have to pick a side, that we have to choose between good and evil then stick to it faithfully. When I finally realized nothing obligated me to be faithful to any ideology, the two-party monkey jumped off of my back and I was free. What a relief it was; I can only compare it to the blissful deliverance I felt when I passed a kidney stone.
Researching articles for Hub Pages, in particular, has opened my eyes to the fact that there are a lot of dark deeds being perpetrated behind our backs, a multitude of nefarious, insidious activities that we don't learn about in the thirty second soundbite mainstream media.
Here is a summary of these eye-opening revelations.
My online blogging career has a decidedly Postal Service slant to it, hence my pen name. While writing about the efforts to eliminate Saturday mail delivery in July of 2013, I first realized that there are politicians on both sides of the aisle engaged in the dismantling of the Post Office. Senator Diane Feinstein, Democrat from California, is one of these. Her husband's company profits from the fire sale of postal facilities across the country, yet she pretends to be an ally of working people who depend upon this economical, constitutionally guaranteed system of communication.
In February of 2014, I first learned about the existence of the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a sinister think tank that writes anti-worker, pro-corporation legislation to be passed into law by the elected puppets that are beholden to the group.
In August of 2014, while researching an article on the flood of Central American immigration then pounding against the southern border, I realized that American support for corrupt regimes in Latin America is a principal reason behind the political destabilization and economic collapse that causes this unstoppable surge of desperate refugees. We helped wreck the Latin American ship, then look upon in puzzled wonderment when the floundering lifeboats are overwhelmed.
Close to Thanksgiving of 2014 I wrote a little ditty called the 2015 California Voter Apathy Guide. This hub was barely read, and long ago unfeatured. I guess it was one of those ugly, misunderstood children that only its parent can love. Within the highly satirical paragraphs of that carefully cloistered, ornery child of mine, I concluded that California is now a one party state and has effectively degenerated into Hong-Kong style democracy, where voters select from a pre-approved list of candidates.
Later that same year, in December 2015, my "Top Four Postal Villains not Named Darrell Issa" featured a truly aisle crossing, bipartisan mix of Democrats and Republicans alike who are engaged in the crime of destroying America's Postal Service.
My July 2015 writing about Doug Hughes, the rebel aviator mailman who landed on the Capitol Lawn to deliver an impassioned plea to our lawmakers for campaign finance reform, reinforced the fact that all of our legislators, Donkey and Republican alike, are equally bought and paid for.
The enlightenment has since continued. There is no need to go through the entire litany of the political crimes that my research has uncovered. The ultimate conclusion I have arrived at, however, is that there is that Democrats and Republicans are equally to blame for the erosion of democracy in this country. Democrats are perhaps more to blame, in my view, because they pretend to be the friend of the working man.
It was also in late 2015 that I read the liberating phrase that finally freed me forever from flip-flopping fever. It came from an appendix from a book called "The Illuminatus Trilogy," which I don't recommend you read unless you are really into weird, difficult fiction. I loved it, but I am admittedly both weird and difficult. Anyhow, the life-changing quote by authors Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson goes like this:
Every ideology is a mental murder, a reduction of dynamic living processes to static classifications, and every classification is a Damnation, just as every inclusion is an exclusion. In a busy, buzzing universe where no two snowflakes are identical, and no two trees are identical, and no two people are identical - and, indeed, the smallest sub-atomic particle, we are assured, is not even identical with itself from one microsecond to the next - every card index system is a self-delusion...— Robert Shea and Robert Anton Wilson - The Illuminatus Trilogy
Cast Your Non-Placebo Vote on the Two-Party System
Is the American Two-Party System Real Democracy?
The Doctrine of the Wasted Vote or: Pinch it off already
Ideology is mental murder, and every political ideology shoved down our throats by the two-party system is a mental straight jacket designed to make us weigh issues based upon our ideological affiliations, instead of upon the merits of those ideas.
On June 8th Hilary Clinton officially became the "presumptive candidate," a shadowy, self-contradictory term very popular in this election cycle. Since that time, her ideologically straight-jacketed supporters have come out in droves to remind us that we better vote for the party-approved candidate or face the consequences. I will, therefore, end this rant on the sour note of the mentally-murdering doctrine of the Wasted Vote.
In Democratic voting circles, the doctrine of the wasted vote has become especially popular since the 2000 election. In that heavily battled campaign that ultimately went to the Supreme Court, Ralph Nader supposedly cost Al Gore the presidency by pulling away 3% of votes that Democrat faithful believe would have assuredly gone to him instead of his rival, George W. Bush. Whenever any wavering "progressive" is tempted into committing voter blasphemy by supporting a third party or Independent candidate, we are bluntly reminded to hearken back to 2000, to remember that a vote for the fringe candidate, no matter how much his or her views agree with your own, is effectively a vote for the BAD PEOPLE - meaning Republicans. Not only are you wasting your vote, but you are essentially blacking in the box beside the bad person with that magic marker that barely squeaks out any ink, this because the ballot distributor at the polls saw NPP by your name, so they gave you the bad pen on purpose.
Of course, long term memory suffering Democratic backers may forget that the same thing was said about Ross Perot in 1992, when Republicans bemoaned Bush Sr.'s downfall to Bill Clinton. If it wasn't for that darn Ross drawing away 18% of the Republican vote, they cried, we never would have put Slick Willie's naked, sweating butt on that Oval Office chair.
To me it's a wash. Sometimes you win and sometimes you lose. Smart people like Nader come along who aren't impressed by the behavior of any of the two major parties, and believe the American people should have an alternative. Is it a sin, or a crime, to desist from voting for who you really believe in just because someone who holds himself up as being more intelligent than you proclaims you're wasting your vote by doing so? I say It's my no-party and I'll cry if I want to, and it's my vote and I'll waste it if I want to.
The doctrine of the wasted vote, furthermore, has been a key weapon in the two-party arsenal, used with extreme effectiveness to intimidate timid voters away from whom they believe is the best choice. It is a principal reason why a third party or Independent candidate with fresh ideas can never prosper. It is already being used in 2016, to great effect, by Hilary supporters.
So what it boils down to in the United States is a political system where we are only allowed to pick from the less toxic of two types of poison. It is liked being asked to pick between lead and asbestos. Pick the poison with the yummy Tootsie Roll center so it at least tastes good while it is eroding your innards.
That two-party sugar-coated poison pill eating out your innards, by the way, does not truly consist of two parties at all, but is effectively a one-party illusion. Both parties receive financial support from the same sordid, sleazy sources and ultimately serve the interests of the same handful of wealthy individuals. The ideological differences between the two are only window dressing, designed to hypnotize us into thinking that we have a choice. The Democrats might try to pretend they are attacking the rich by raising taxes on them - but the truly wealthy hide their riches overseas and never pay these taxes anyway.
I think it's about time to pinch this off because I've been on the two-party commode way too long already, but I've left the seat warm so you can sit down and think it through. Will we the American people continue to straight-jacket our minds by picking between two brands of poison in colorful wrappers, or will we finally wean ourselves from the savory bottle of two-party dependence? It's been a long, frustrating, often painful flip-flopping journey to get there for me, but I have chosen to abandon placebo democracy and vote for people who will serve us, not themselves.