Independent of Politics

The United States is one step closer to health care reform, with the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act by the House of Representatives last night.  Not a single Republican voted for the bill.  Indeed, to hear many members of the Grand Old Party, the United States is one step closer to totalitarianism.  Senator Jim DeMint (R-SC) described the legislation as a “trillion-dollar assault on our freedoms.”  His concern for freedom is evident, as indicated by his support for last year’s military coup in Honduras.

More and more, the arena of politics has come to resemble a middle-school assembly, with opposing cliques loudly vying for favor and attention.  In their selfish desire to assert their influence and dominance, they lose sight of their raison d’etre.  The students fail to gain an education.  The elected representatives fail to govern—or even represent.  It is an unacceptable state of affairs.

I have a strong dislike for politics.  It interferes with governance and wastes valuable time and resources.  Given the immense challenges with which this nation is confronted, you would think that those elected by the people and charged with working for the people would find a way to put aside their differences and come together to make things right.  You would be wrong.  We have become more divided instead of less so.  How can that be?

There is a reason I decline to affiliate with any political party.  I am a registered Independent and shall remain so.  I have no stomach for partisanship.  I know that I am not alone.  There are many who long for an antidote (not manufactured by any pharmaceutical company) to the toxic effects of partisan politics.  In today’s New York Times, Phil Keisling proposes a partial antidote that is worth considering:

To Reduce Partisanship, Get Rid Of Partisans

WANT to get serious about reducing the toxic levels of hyper-partisanship and legislative dysfunction now gripping American politics? Here’s a direct, simple fix: abolish party primary elections.

From now to September, virtually every state will hold primaries to select Democratic and Republican candidates for the November general election. At stake are 36 Senate and 435 Congressional seats, along with 37 governorships and more than 6,000 state legislative seats.

What can we likely expect? Abysmal voter turnout; incessant waves of shrill, partisan invective; and legions of pandering politicians making blatant appeals to party extremists. Once you understand the role that party primary elections really play, and who votes and doesn’t, the real question isn’t why our politics are so dysfunctional — it’s how could they not be?….

So what can be done? States should scrap this anachronistic system and replace it with a “fully open/top two” primary. All candidates would run in a first round, “qualifying” election, with the top two finalists earning the chance to compete head-to-head in November. Republicans, Democrats, Greens, Libertarians, Tea-Partiers, even “None of the Above’s” could all run in the first round. Voters would certainly know candidates’ party affiliations, but no political party would automatically be entitled to a spot on the November ballot.

This would create far more races that were truly competitive, especially across the vast majority of lopsided districts where winning the party primary essentially guarantees election. In those districts, both finalists might be from the same party, but there could be genuine differences between the two that would give voters a meaningful choice. [full article]

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5 responses

  1. David, I almost had a heart attack while reading this. you’ve always been able to illicit a response out of me, usually of the “I can’t believe he just wrote that” variety, but on this issue we wholeheartedly stand together. I watched about 4 hours of the debate yesterday and it was some of the saddest, childish, and wasteful time I’ve ever spent. I said to myself, “no wonder things aren’t happening in Congress” as each party sticks to their own clique and talking points.

    With the removal of the party primaries, I’m not sure if that would just open things up for a different type of exploitation. I’m not sure what, but I’m sure political hacks would be thinking of something.

    Partisanship sucks in this country. I am aregistered Republican but I voted for Obama. I will never, repeat never, vote for someone just because of a party label. My principles are far beyond a party label and I think you might be surprised at how many people feel the same way.

    I just don’t know what we can do to bring down the system we have today. But, it was nice to read a post of yours and agree….for once. :)

  2. Wow. David and Don on the same side?

    Politics does indeed make strange bedfellows.

    Seriously, I agree with both of you. My personal preference is parliamentary democracy, but I could live with the sort of system proposed in the article.

  3. I felt like I was watching the Student Council election at Weenamewee High.

  4. Kiersten Marek | Reply

    I agree — party primaries are very problematic. It would be great to see a push for this type of election reform.

  5. We need to correct this problem by imposing term limits – two for senators and six for congresspersons. This will have the immediate effect of eliminating the professional politician which lies at the root of the problem. We also need to reverse that recent 5 to 4 Supreme Court decision legalizing corporate contributions to political campaigns. This may require a constitutional amendment which means it will have to be approved by our state legislatures.

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