I’ve always had a sympathy, but never a real belief, in the efficacy of third parties. After some flirtation with the idea, I succumb to the conclusion that a vote for a candidate other than a Democrat or a Republican amounts to little more than a vague, ineffective protest against the row A or B people who have an actual chance to win.
Lately, though, I am wondering if it’s time to change my point of view. Things have gotten scary down in Washington. Increasingly, it is appearing that the Democrat-Republican ruling structure just can’t get it together to solve our nation’s problems. The debt ceiling mess, which led to our bond rating being slashed, was alarming. The failure of the “supercommittee” to come up with a deficit-cutting plan was frightening. The ongoing angst over the payroll tax cut extension is just depressing. I don’t know if it’s some kind of intellectual palsy on the part of our leaders or them forgetting that compromise is what has kept this country of many disparate interests together for two-plus centuries. My suspicion is — or maybe this is just me grasping at straws in feeling that there’s some kind of rational, albeit evil, plan behind all this chaos — both parties are shunning compromise in favor of holding out for an opening that will let them get a leg up over their rival, regardless of the consequences the rest of us may suffer.
Whatever the reason, we, the people, clinging to our jobs, dealing with expensive health care and praying that there’ll be something left of Social Security when we finally get too old to work anymore, are not being served. We’re seeing BS elevated over common sense and partisanship exalted over common cause. This won’t work. What’s happening in Europe is a cautionary tale that must be heeded — lacking some kind of rational, informed re-think of the way we do economics in this country, our system could break down. It could all fail, and if it does, there’s no one to bail us out and we take the whole world down with us.
So, that’s where my urge for a third party is coming from. I would like to see it hewn out of the middle of the political spectrum — I admire the spunk of both the Tea Partiers and the Occupiers, but neither group possesses the coherence or the flexibility of mind to save this country. The party I am thinking of believes in science. It believes in finding out what solutions work and putting those solutions into practice, no matter where the idea came from. It somehow gets off the pork train, and it puts culture war issues on the back burner (of the stove out in the woods with weeds growing through it) to be bickered over in better times. It places the welfare of all above the welfare of vocal minorities. It acknowledges that everyone is going to have to contribute more to the collective, but the collective isn’t going to be all things to all its parts. It will cherish intelligence and knowledge, and fight stupidity and ignorance.