Sunday, October 28, 2018

Re-Thinking America's Two-Party System

You've probably heard it so often in your life that you barely notice it:  "Our two-party system has served America well".  The justification we are given (or that we sometimes tell ourselves) is that the two-party system results in the "extremes" from both sides cancelling each other out, and the center taking the best ideas from both sides and molding it into cohesive policy.  It's an idea that nearly all of us believe in, to the point that we almost take it for granted...that it's almost obvious.  The one thing you rarely see people take issue with in America is our two-party system of governance.

On the surface, it does seem like a good idea, or at least a reasonable one.  If you have two political sides, each genuinely wanting the best for America (whatever that might entail), and both operating in good faith,  then exposing ideas and policy to the scrutiny of debate and process from both sides very well could result in stronger policies being produced as a result.  If everybody truly wants the best for America, and both sides are working toward that end, then the resulting debate and compromise could potentially be a very good thing, indeed.

But what if only one of the two parties is operating in good faith?  What if only one of the two political parties truly wants what's best for America, while the other party wants to bring down the very principles, ideals, and history that made us great in the first place (and endeavors to "fundamentally transform" America)?  Is the two-party system still beneficial in that case?

Computer Programmers have an oft-used phrase:  Garbage In, Garbage Out.  The meaning of the phrase is that if a programmer makes a mistake during the programming process, that mistake will--without exception--manifest itself in the finished program, regardless of whatever else happens during the programming process.  Garbage In, Garbage Out can apply to politics as well--if one of the two parties involved in our political process is consistently wrong about every single subject, topic, or issue that comes up...and if that party continues to be allowed to take part in the political process...then how can the end results of that process end up being anything good or worthwhile?

To put it more precisely, how can a party that has consistently advocated for Illegal Aliens, empathized with Urban Criminals over Police, has been more concerned with the "rights" of Muslim Terrorists over the basic protection of American citizens, has consistently attempted to take away our gun rights at every turn, has actively worked against the lower taxes that so many of us--across all economic levels--have benefited can the presence of that political party in the political process result in anything of value when it comes to dealing with the very issues that America as a whole deals with?

To put it can't.

The Democratic Party (and the American Left as a whole) literally get it wrong every single time.  And they've done it for decades.  Yes, cooperation could be a good thing if the opposing party did the right thing at least some of the time.  But the Democrats don't even have that modicum of a track record.  Since at least the 1990's, the Democrats have been on the wrong side of literally every major issue and event that America has experienced.  As such, American politics would be far better off without that party's participation.

But if the Democratic Party went away (either by losing so many elections that they go extinct...or by some sort of legislative means that would outlaw their existence--which is what we consistently advocate for on this website), then we would have only one party remaining in American politics--at least in a realistic sense.  (Don't even try to convince me that something like the Libertarian Party or Green Party could effectively take their spot).  We would most likely end up being a one-party system in America--the Republican Party.  When people think of one-party nations, they often think of the worst.  They envision the most egregious and despicable tyrants of all time when the think of a one-party system.  But does this necessarily have to be the case?

To answer that question, I have to look no further than to look within America's core.  Specifically, I look to the rural communities of America's South and Midwest.  What many people don't realize is that a lot of these rural communities and counties operate--in a de facto sense--as a one-party political system.  In many of these rural areas, the Democratic Party either isn't present, or is so small and neutered that it has no impact on local politics at all.  During general elections, most Republican candidates run unopposed (Primary elections, on the other hand, can be quite competitive, with multiple Republicans running for most offices).  In many rural counties in America (and certainly in my home state of Missouri), Republicans have every single elected office in the county...and this has been the case as far back as anyone can remember. While a one-party system has not been legislated into existence in these areas, it still does very much exist, because that's what the voters in these areas want...and have wanted for quite a long time.

Uniformity in politics is not the only type of uniformity that exists in many of these areas.  In many such counties, religious and cultural views are nearly unanimous as well.  The vast majority of residents are Evangelical Christians (though there are often many different denominations in these areas, they are still denominations that fall under what one might refer to as the Evangelical or Fundamentalist umbrella.  In other words, you won't see any "exotic" religions from around the world--there will be no Islamic Mosques or Buddist temples to be found in these areas, for example).  The result is a population that has largely the same views not only on politics, but also on morality, religion, and the basic concepts of "right and wrong".

I grew up in one of these areas--a county in Southwest Missouri that hasn't voted for a Democrat in a Presidential Election since 1896.  And I can tell you that we never seemed to run across the same issues (crime, cultural rot) that our more politically and religiously diverse brethren in the big cities of St. Louis and Kansas City had to deal with.  Everybody knew Right from Wrong.  There was no confusion when it came to basic morality.  And if somebody came in from the outside who didn't share those views, they were generally worn down by the populace (in a good way, of course...there was never any violence) until they adopted a proper viewpoint.  The few Democrats, Liberals, or Atheists who showed up would normally be ostracized (in a nice way) until they better fit into our community.  Sometimes they would fit in better over time, and in other cases, they would move away--but either way, our community kept on doing the right things.  Things were so peaceful that someone could have a rifle in the gun rack of their truck, park it on the school parking lot, and nobody would bat an eye about it (and there was never any trouble that resulted from it, either).  We all trusted each other and worked together--but this was specifically because of that cultural, moral, and political uniformity we shared.  Had we been more diverse in these ways, we couldn't have had those bonds of trust that are necessary to work together and solve problems.

So having lived through what was effectively a functioning one-party political (and social, and religious) system, I can vouch for the fact that it is not problematic by default.  Indeed, it resulted in far more efficiency and genuine trust, as we didn't waste time and resources considering ideas that everybody knew had no place in our community to begin with.  There was debate on the issues, of course...but it was debate that arose from everybody coming from the same "starting point" in terms of basic morality.  Within the GOP, and within Fundamental Christianity, there can often be meaningful debates and cooperation.  But outside of these entities, cooperation and debate seems to do far, far more harm than good.

Is there a perfect number of political parties that America's political system should have?  I don't know that there is...but I do know that whatever number of parties we have in our system, the Democratic Party--as it currently stands--must not be a part of it.  But as a part of the discussion, we shouldn't reflexively reject the thought of a one-party America.  We have hundreds of examples of such an America, all across our rural areas and "Flyover Country" that demonstrate to us that a one-party system does not automatically result in tyranny or totalitarianism...but instead can result in a great foundation not only for making important decisions, but for raising families and bringing forth the best in humanity.

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