Time to Give Power to a Third Party
“Since then common sense has been bound and nourished by tradition, so that when traditional standards cease to make sense and no longer serve as general rules under which all or most particular instances can be subsumed, common sense unavoidably atrophies.” -Hannah Arendt
Lets’ give power to a third party.
Neither the Republican nor the Democratic establishment represent the American peoples at present, and this division between the “Man” and citizenry is only growing, not decreasing. Just take a poll or ask your neighbor. Each party has become more subsumed in parroting their respective ideological mantra, more infatuated with the cult of personality surrounding X political figurehead of the week, than on focusing on and/or advocating a particular truism or principle, let alone represent the American people. Abraham Lincoln would be upset. Of course every nation deals with the ebbs and flows of various ideological and political cycles, however, there is a point when a remodel of the status quo wastes more time and energy than necessary.
Back to the drawing board.
In thinking about what this new third party should be, we first need to acknowledge the age-old, most fundamental question that governments have posed time immemorial — what is the role of government? In order to do this, we first need to define what constitutes a political issue, and what a social issue. This is a nasty, knotted ball of yarn to undo though, living in an age where political and social issues have become fused together, and moderns don’t know what the difference is.
For example, while individuals try and make the legalization of pot or gay marriage into a politically left or right issue, the actual underlying political issue is not about the moral conflict between being a liberal pro-pot hippie and a conservative Christian anti-pot hater — these types of understandings ultimately distort what the real political conflict is about. Legalization of pot, in and of itself is a social issue. I know conservatives who advocate legalizing Marijuana and Democrats against it. No, the correct political question, for these types of situations is about deciding whether legalizing pot should be a state or federal issue. Should the central government hold the majority of the power, or do individual states assume primary responsibility? This is the political question that people need to engage with, not a social one.
The national government, as one united entity, does not determine whether smoking pot, legalizing same-sex marriage, or walking outside on a rainy day is moral or not — individuals do. When you get into labeling the “enemy” in a social context, you quickly run into paradoxical conundrums. Who is who exactly? Can you believe in X and Y, but not Z if you belong to group F? For example, there is more politically in common between the “liberal” urban homesteader and the self-sufficient “conservative” doomsday prepping man, than perhaps liberals have in common with liberals or conservatives with conservatives. Both the homesteader and the Apocalyptic, place a high value on their right to govern themselves, and live accordingly to how each one sees fit (within a limit of course — now entering Supreme Court territory).
Instead of asking the deeper political or more philosophical question though, like what is good governance, as of late, Americans fill their political lives more with the superficial minutia of social issues — yes important, but citizenry should not assign their central government the role of dictating morality about each pot, marriage, homeschooling decision. Because when we, the citizenry, make dealing with social issues the primary concern of our political realm, our candidates for office only talk and think about these social issues, rather than focus on issues of federalism — and the mechanics of government.
Because politicians appear disengaged from discussing these deeper, political, philosophical and mechanical issues, we need a third party that addresses, and delves into these questions: what is the role of government and why do we need it, combining tenets of liberalism and conservatism into one whole. Perhaps, classical liberalism anyone? I don’t know.
It is not just the focus on social issues that has made the political scene increasingly vapid and frustrating per usual for the voter, but the lack of dialogue and civility observed within each respective party, and between one another as well. This makes a third party sound all the more desirable.
If our only likely and viable candidates for the 2016 Presidential Election are Democrat contender Hilary Clinton and the Republicans’ Donald Trump America’s future political outlook is looking bleaker than expected. These candidates make social issues paramount, and do not delve into the mechanics specifically, of what makes good governance. Should we require that candidates write their own version of the Federalist Papers, as a qualification to run? It is not necessarily that these candidates are inherently evil, arrogant, or incompetent (as I am sure many would argue), but rather that if these folks, with the addition of maybe a “Hail Mary” candidate jettisoned into the race at the last minute, are the best and the brightest representatives America has to offer…the 2016 race should take a rain check (if only).
If people don’t start examining the root of current political discontent, looking at what the real political issues are — how much should the state be “left alone” and when should the federal government intervene, we will be looking at candidates that increasingly talk more about social issues, until the louder voice wins or the popular one triumphs — rather than dealing with age-old questions about the necessary components of good governance, diminishing true political debate and inquiry. People should ask how we should govern, not what should we govern.
The meager selection of qualified presidential candidates however, is only one symptom of the dissonance, discontent, and incivility that has manifested itself in the realm of politics. Making social issues the main issue has contributed in significant part, to the oversimplification and dumbing down of the electorate, because people do not think or ponder enough about how they should be governed. Parties are more concerned with disseminating their ideological slogan, propaganda, and rhetoric about gay marriage-this, homeschooling-that than in applying practical solutions or employing moral methods to build a stronger country, looking at the political aspect of these issues.
When parties are more concerned with rehashing various ad hominem attacks against each other (Reid vs. Boehner, Hilary vs. Obama, list personal squabble of the week.) rather than engaging in productive dialogue about what constitutes good governance, it’s time to reassess. However, this “reassessment” is not panning out to well. For example, recently, Republicans created a think tank in order to revamp their image (which is in sore need of a makeover) called, Para Bellum Labs. So, what is the problem? The GOP not only named its innovation lab after a Nazi Pistol, but in Latin, the literal meaning is “prepare for war” (see Gawker for further details). Huh? I don’t understand how this approach cultivates a more engaging or productive political climate, or fosters deeper thinking beyond, “you — bad, we — good.”
But, while Republicans scramble to upgrade and improve their image, appeasing all their Tea Party, moderate and Libertarian members alike, the Democrats aren’t exactly a winning team to pick either. From Obama’s usage of executive orders to the less-then-stellar implementation of Obamacare, a lot of Democrats are finding themselves increasingly at odds with their own presidential elect. For example, Democratic congressmen are just as infuriated with Obama, as their Republican counterparts are, when Obama’s imperialism begins to undermine their congressional authority.
Listening to enraged citizenry on the phone during the government shutdown of 2013 only furthered my general awareness, of the seething and, also, not-so-subtle anger and angst which Americans harbor towards their government right now. I mean, I don’t really know if Todd from West Virginia is serious about storming the Capitol alongside his comrades in arms, but I certainly don’t want to find out.
How about that third party anyone? Who is in charge anyway?