Should you join the “Looney Left” or “Radical Right”? First let’s define the terms Left and Right with their synonyms in American Politics “Liberal” and “Conservative”. In a world of verbally incontinent partisans, we have lost their true meaning:
Liberal – Favoring proposals for reform, open to new ideas for progress, and tolerant of the ideas and behavior of others; broad-minded.
Conservative – One who desires to maintain existing institutions and customs; also, one who holds moderate opinions in politics; — opposed to revolutionary or radical.
Webster’s Revised Unabridged Dictionary, © 1996, 1998 MICRA, Inc.
Great words aren’t they? I don’t know about you, but I think both of these words describe my take on life. They aren’t as diametrically opposed as one would expect watching television or reading the opinion section.
Looking at these simple and accurate definitions, we can easily identify with both of them. I am conservative when I deposit money in the bank. I am liberal when I go to a new restaurant. These are not great evils that we can attribute all the world’s problems to, they are virtues, equally good and bad depending on the situation and the extreme to which they are taken.
However, we aren’t looking at these words for what they mean in everyday life, we are discussing their importance in American Politics, where these words are taking on increasingly extensive meanings and connotations that have nothing to do with faith in progressive versus established means–but I’m relegating that part of the political issue to Party VS Ideology.
No. Here I want to talk purely about the implications of this dichotomy. Namely, I want to focus on how the two-dimensional nature of American Political Discourse prohibits the Public from debating the four-dimensions of Politics, the other two being Libertarian VS Communitarian.
Liberals who lean toward in Governmental mediation of economic processes are known as “Communitarians.” Conservatives who lean toward Governmental mediation of social processes are known as “Authoritarians.” People, both liberal and conservative, who believe in less Government are known as “Libertarians”. An overwhelming majority of Americans test out as highly libertarian, but only moderately liberal or conservative.
Unfortunately, our political system is split along liberal and conservative lines rather than libertarian and communitarian/authoritarian ones. I think the problem is that our (federal) government is heavily communitarian/authoritarian. If we think of it as a business, then it has every motivation to continually inflate its budget. Both Democrats and Republicans are wholly communitarian and authoritarian, they advocate new spending measures only. They work for the federal beast and the nature of that animal is to grow.
Republicans and Democrats differentiating themselves along left/right arguments has the effect of ignoring the possibility of less government for everyone. Look at their exorbitant Congressional Salaries, not to mention retirement packages. Do you really think these people want a smaller Government that might turn them back into Public Servants? Neither party wants to bite the invisible hand of their federal meal ticket.
So they keep us bickering over liberal/conservative lines while the beast gets bigger. Left VS Right is a red herring. If people can put away their hatred for the opposition and recognize this every-growing problem, we might be able to do something about it.
Two Dimensional Politics Equals Two Choices, left and right. Adding a third dimension to our political spectrum squares the number of choices. Instead of liberal and conservative, we would have Liberal-Communitarian, Conservative-Authoritarian, Liberal-Libertarian, and Conservative-Libertarian.
Why stop there? Why settle for replacing a dichotomy with a quadrachotomy (Is that a word?)? We know there are many many many degrees of belief within the political spectrum and people do not fall wholly into any one spot on the graph. If the American political system were to accommodate a myriad of political parties, we would not only reduce the “Party VS Ideology” fallacy, but would increase voter turn out. Thinking of our Democracy in capitalist terms, there are entire market demographics being ignored in the current system.
So how do we get a third party, and more, into the mix? First we must overcome the current monopoly the two parties hold and remove the barriers to getting third parties on the ballots. The Democrats and Republicans themselves are interests a system that allows them to monopolize discourse and harvest immense profits out of it. These establishments will do anything to prevent additional parties from destabilizing their status quo. In the past, Republicans sabotaged the Reform Party and Democrats hindered the Green party to prevent these alternatives from “siphoning off” votes that would otherwise go to the established dichotomy.
So the biggest problem is the established system, which favors the large political power-consuming machines because of its “winner takes all” nature. For this reason, simple fixes to the Electoral College are the easiest and least threatening way to create more party options. There are several very simple changes to our voting process that would facilitate the inclusion of additional parties.
One example is a ballot that allows the voter to rank their choices. This would allow voters the ability to give their preference to a third party candidate, and should that party fail to win sufficient votes, the voter’s ballot would indicate their second and third choices. Democrats and Republicans would not only cease to be threatened by third parties, but could actually benefit from their common ideologies. There are also slightly more complex methods that do not require revising the Constitution.
So, let’s pretend you’re sold on a particular solution. How do we get it on the ballot? With the ultimate of ironies: The Single Issue Party.
That’s right, a Party that runs on a single issue: Modifying the Electoral Process to provide additional parties to get into power. Of course, in a political world as complex as ours, such a party would not be viable. It would have no chance of getting elected, but it would siphon enough votes from the establishment to threaten them. Most likely, one party would agree to adopt the Single Issue Party’s stance on the matter in order to gain its support.
Would you vote for this single issue?