Monday, October 17, 2016

Party time!

Two Parties? Why just two?

In real life, few issues can really be defined by just two sides.  There are often as many sides as there are participants in the discussion.  Pro-lifers and pro-choicers span a spectrum of positions from absolute through various shades of moderation.  Issues of science, conscience, law, culture, and autonomy are worth discussion and understanding, but we're offered instead an either/or. It's the same for taxes, business regulation, economics, the constitution, and foreign relations.

So why is our choice in representation limited to either/or?  The chance of a candidate actually representing my views and yours is rather small.

From the Wikipedia article on U.S. political parties, the 2016 charts shows a bit about your chance of being represented in national and state legislatures.

Political PartiesHouse of RepresentativesSenate
Republican Party24754
Democratic Party18644
Independent02
Vacant20
Political PartiesState Lower Chamber SeatsState Upper Chamber SeatsGovernorships
Republican Party3,0431,13332
Democratic Party2,34483217
Vermont Progressive Party630
Libertarian Party220
Working Families Party110
Conservative Party of New York State100
Independence Party of New York100
Independent1331
Vacant430
Total5,4111,97250
We've attempted to spin off support for more than just those two extremes, but so far, it's hasn't really made the difference we need.  We've been this way for a long time; did we make the right choice?

Divided, we fall, we're told, and we are a polarized and in many ways divided nation.  I wonder what it would be like if we had half a dozen major parties and a couple dozen significant minor ones.  Would we talk to each other instead of about each other?  Would we find it necessary to discuss and understand?  We'd need collaboration to succeed, I suspect, and compromise.

Could a strict constructionist sit down with a libertarian and a neo-liberal, agree on a goal, and find a path they could support?  Perhaps.  Could they learn from each other?  Sure, if there was an honest dialog.

For now, the D&Rs share the stage, each with a catastrophically narrow view of the nation, the future, and the possibilities.  It makes a difference.

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