actuality.log


Wednesday, June the 6th, 2007

As surprising as it sounds, I’ve been paying attention to what the numerous presidential candidates have been saying recently. This is surprising not only because I’m usually of the opinion that politics is balderdash and the elections under discussion are well over a year away, but also because I’m not a citizen of this country; my opinions don’t matter and the election’s outcome is of little consequence to me.

I don’t recall paying any attention to politics back home, but that’s probably because I didn’t live there long enough after turning old enough to vote. And often times, arguments about things I don’t care about were made in languages I don’t understand… or care about.

Anyway, returning to the U.S., what baffles me about the state of affairs here is how the system still manages to hold onto a (predominantly) bipartisan system, especially when there are so many issues worth arguing over. One would assume that these differing opinions, principles, ideas… would soon spawn a multitude of parties. At least, definitely more than two major groups. I mean, even if you just looked at the “hot-button” issues, there’s a good chance your views won’t align perfectly with one party or the other. How then do you make a choice? Why then would you?

Let me put things in concrete terms here. If, hypothetically, I had a vote that mattered, I still wouldn’t know who to vote for (or even see the point in voting), because on certain issues, my views line up with the Democratic party and on others, they match the Republican party. For instance:

I believe that the country ought to be fenced, and all business should be conducted only in English—forcing everyone inside to learn the language. I also believe people who’ve entered unlawfully, or outsiders who are generally a thorn in your sight, ought to be booted out. The last thing any country needs is an erosion of its culture.

I believe that the Iraq war is unjust, and puts a tremendous undue burden on the country. It’s not the U.S.’s problem if Iraq falls apart—does anyone really give a fuck?—they have to cut their losses and retreat as soon as possible, saving money and lives.

There is no war on terrorism, it’s a bumper-sticker slogan designed to distract the public from real problems, and an umbrella under which to silently erode human rights. From illegal wire-tapping, to the PATRIOT act, to secret prisons in Guantanamo Bay, you know things have gone too far. The people we’re supposed to be fearing are not as technically-sophisticated as the fear-mongers and war-mongers would like us to believe. Iran and nuclear warheads? Hah! How old is their nuclear science program again?

I believe in tax-cuts for the richest portion of the populace. They’ve worked hard to get where they are today, and they’ve done a lot of good for society during their ascent, like creating a ton of jobs for the middle-class. They deserve to enjoy the fruit of their labours. Besides, I fully intend on being one of these rich folk and enjoying myself some day; I’ve worked at it long enough, and the last thing I need is 40% of my income being taxed away to help someone else.

I believe in science, and that theology has no place in science classrooms. Humans evolved from apes as apes did so from their predecessors. It’s the way it is, and did not require the “hand of god.” Evolution is not a “theory,” it’s a fact. Global warming is not a “theory,” it’s a fact. Study of human embryos is not “killing innocent babies,” it’s exploratory science; science that will help you some day. Lumping all that you don’t understand under the actions of the “glorious hand of god” is the reason why this country is so anti-intellectual. And the reason why this trend has to be reversed, if the U.S. wants to compete, technologically, in today’s global economy.

I don’t believe in social programs like “universal health care” for all, because I know all this means is that the rich will be made to pay for it, while the poor will just sit down and reap all the benefits. That’s not fair. If you want your medicines, pay for it like everyone else. Or move to Canada.

This does not mean I don’t believe in helping my fellow man (or woman). By all means, support an orphan or three. I just don’t believe mandating it through taxation and social programs is the right way of going about it.

I believe that sexual preferences play no role in determining how good a person you are, and that gay people should have the right to marry and enjoy all the benefits married couples enjoy. Where one sticks their penis is their own business, and besides, is there anyone out there that doesn’t find the concept of two women naked together hot? Remember people, gay people includes lesbians too.

In fact, I strongly oppose affirmative action, favour vaccinating girls against cervical cancer so they can have safer sex, favour the death penalty, favour strict gun control, support a woman’s right to abort her foetus, if she’s talked to the father about it.

So, what could I do? What does everyone do?

Apart from starting their own party and declaring themselves a candidate… only to be later lambasted as a “spoiler” in the race, of course.

Update: Some of the comments below, originally published under a public domain licence, are reproduced from digg.com.

This is a printer-friendly version of the journal entry “Bipartisan politics” from actuality.log. Visit http://emphaticallystatic.org/earlier/bipartisan-politics/ to read the original entry and follow any responses to it.

12 Responses to “Bipartisan politics”

  1. blored says:

    No. Canada, France, Britain, Switzerland, … more than two parties = equally balanced government.

    Sidenote: Only two parties have won power (in recent memory) for both Canada in Britain. Britain goes long periods with only one party in power.

  2. Xuvious says:

    A third party is impossible in the US.

    The two “big” parties have stolen everything. Even the ability to get on the ballots in every state, through ballot access laws. To get on a ballot is nearly impossible and always an uphill battle that nearly breaks a third party.

    Until we get some judges who have the balls to rule against the ruling elite in the two parties it will never get to the point where a third party can make it.

  3. pundit says:

    Xuvious: This is what I was curious about. (I am not American.)

    So, (only) two big parties is just “how it has become?” How is that fair?

  4. Xuvious says:

    pundit: They created laws that say that a party must get a percentage of the electorate to get on the ballot. In some states it is as low as 1 or 2% of the last gubernatorial election. and some are so high it’s nearly impossible and no one but the two parties actually get on the ballot. Ballot access laws, arguably, have a purpose. Some say to keep “frivolous” parties from crowding the ticket. But this a total bullshit argument as we are all Americans and must have the ability to gain access to the ballot box. And if those who make arguments in favor really wanted the elections to be fair they wouldn’t make it so damned repressed that no one but the two big parties can gain access. Ballot access laws are an affront to liberty as they now stand. Fairness has been forgotten in American politics. At least, until a real patriot gets into office, like Ron Paul. And we need more like Paul in congress too.

  5. pundit says:

    Xuvious: Splendidly explained; thank you. I was not aware of this minimum entry bar that the candidates had to cross before showing up on the ballot. I was under the (mistaken) impression that the process was so expensive, that only the “major” players could afford to participate. (In some sense, also weeding out the “frivolous” parties. As in, if you’re going to spend millions of dollars on something, you have to be serious, right?)

    At least, that’s what I gathered from so many news networks harping about how many tens-of-millions each “major” candidate has raised.

    Here’s to hoping enough people back straight-shooters like Dr. Paul.

  6. Xuvious says:

    pundit: Really it isn’t a candidate issue, it’s a Party issue. It’s the Party that had to muster the signatures. They have to do this by going out and canvassing at stores, malls, fairs or anywhere the property owner will let them. Which makes it even harder to do because if the property owner doesn’t like your Party, or someone running under your Party, then they can remove you from the premises.

    If you are very wealthy then you can hire your own canvassers and run under the “Independent” ticket. But I don’t know of a case where this has occurred. A major costs of a third Party is the ballots access because they have to pay for the people to go out and get the thousands upon thousands of signatures. If these laws were loosened then a third party could compete in the political landscape. Of course the other major costs are airtime and other advertising, but all parties are treated pretty equally in this area because you’re not dealing with the Government. Of course there are other areas where third Parties are screwed in America. And that’s access to media. We used to have a set of laws called “The Fairness Doctrine” where a TV station would have to air other politicians if one politician were able to be on a program. This was pretty good at keeping the airwaves sorta balanced. Bush and Clinton completely buggered that up and now the main stream media doesn’t even have to recognize that a particular Party or person is even alive. Since the FD is gone we’ve seen the rise of people like O’Reily, Limbaugh, Buchanan and others who spew all kinds of crap without having to tell another side to the story.

  7. woowoowoo22 says:

    I recommend everyone take The Worlds Smallest Political Quiz: http://www.theadvocates.org/quiz

    Ron Paul is very smart to run as a public even though he is a libertarian. The libertarian party just cannot get the coverage and the 2 parties have a lock on the system. They try very hard to exclude everyone else.

  8. FyreGoddess says:

    It doesn’t matter how many political parties there are, Americans put far too much stock in labels and not enough in individual stances.

    Voters in the US have been conditioned to believe that a third-party vote is a “wasted” vote. They have been conditioned to believe that the ONLY way to make your vote count is to choose the lesser of 2 evils. Hell, the majority of voters in the US don’t do their research and wind up voting for the incumbant or the one whose campaign was the least odious.

    It doesn’t matter how many major political parties there are, the real chore is in teaching voters how to do independent research and think for themselves. It’s an incredibly daunting task.

  9. pundit says:

    FyreGoddess: I was under the impression this might be the case. Everyone I’ve spoken to seems to identify themselves as a Republican or a Democrat—independent of how they personally stand on different issues vs. how their supposedly-representative candidates stand.

    The two people I’ve spoken to who vote for “the independent,” do so purely because they are dissatisfied with both the major parties, and not because they particularly align with the independent candidate’s point of view. I found this rather surprising, and this is what led me to write this piece.

  10. Terr01 says:

    FyreGoddess: Mathematically speaking, your vote *IS* wasted, and barring a spontaneous and amazingly unlikely mass-third-party-voting, your vote for a third party generally lowers the odds you’ll get what you want.

  11. FyreGoddess says:

    Terr01: Actually, third party voting increases the chances of your party being automatically on the ballot in successive elections and increases the chances of them getting funding.

    It also means you voted for someone that you believe in, rather than forcing you to vote outside of your conscience. Bush or Kerry? No thanks, I’d rather make a statement than have ANY amount of responsibility for that particular mess. There was no way that I could spin it so that either of them were “what I want”. And the reality showed that the “winner” hasn’t been what people want either.

  12. Terr01 says:

    FyreGoddess: The problem is fundamentally about our voting mechanics. Any plurality voting system (where biggest fraction takes all) will devolve into a two-group system over time.

    The REAL way to shake up the political landscape is NOT to vote Green, Libertarian, etc. At least, not directly.

    What we need is to push for voting schemes that increase pressure on the big two, whomever those two may be. That meanas Instant Runoff Voting (IRV) or Condorcet or some similar method.


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