Why does the world’s greatest democracy offer only two choices?

The 2012 election campaign season is still young; the battle will grow only more bruising. And voters will become increasingly turned off. But, in America, we get only two choices, and often are left voting for what we believe to be the lesser of two evils.

Friends in Europe and elsewhere often lament their own forms of government which foster countless parties and voices, and create much noise and chaos. Ironically, in America, which we like to argue is the greatest democracy in the world, we are limited to just two choices: a Republican or a Democrat.

And voters are tiring of it. Some 40 per cent of Americans today identify themselves as political Independents – a record. Just 29 per cent say they’re Democrats, down seven points from 2008, while the proportion saying they’re Republicans has fallen to 27 per cent…

The middle, which rejects both parties, is growing but the question is, what to do about it?

The nature of power is to hang on to it all costs. And that’s what Republican and Democrat parties have done. The maze of rules and cost of getting on to the ballot in 50 different states is daunting to any potential third-party candidate for president – by design…

A bold and innovative group, calling themselves Americans Elect, had a big idea: make it possible for anyone with basic qualifications to run for president by overcoming the hurdle of ballot access…

But a funny thing happened on the way to the circus. The deadline for candidates to qualify came up last week, but nobody much showed up. A former congressman and Louisiana governor, Buddy Roemer, led the list of declared candidates but failed to attract the 10,000 online votes required to meet the basic threshold.

So, if everyone is so fed up with the two-party system what went wrong with this bold experiment? Some argue that it would have had a better chance in a contest without an incumbent president, as that means one side is too locked in. The technology that made it secure also made it difficult to vote. And perhaps too much personal information was demanded when people registered to join in…

Yet Americans Elect has at least sown the seeds of possibility. And if America endures four more years of what we’ve been seeing lately from our two parties, and things continue getting uglier between Obama and Romney campaigns, someone may have an even better idea. It’s America after all. You’d think we could come up with something new, every couple of hundred years.

I lived through the campaigns immediately after World War 2 to ensure the wondrous 2-party system be enshrined as the best in the world. The possibility of nationwide 3rd Party tickets was in the front of every political machine’s eyeballs. The panic, perjury and patriotic balderdash of the Cold War and McCarthyism put an end to it all.

Not that the propaganda has ever ceased. It gets trotted out as part of every war to save democracy. From the Civil Rights Movement through opposition to Bush’s War in Iraq we are always told that our only savior is the other guys. Whether we’re trying to affirm civil rights for all Americans – or protect racism with the Southern Strategy.

The clowns in charge of agitprop never stray from Sophistry 101 = the answer lies between the two extremes. Which is meaningless when you only have one extreme. And even with two even divisions, reality may only lie with one analysis.

So far, most everyone tries to start from the top down — and fails. So far, Americans say they’re independent – and vote for one of the TweedleDeeDum parties or no one at all.

8 thoughts on “Why does the world’s greatest democracy offer only two choices?

  1. fromthefourthcorner says:

    Also, the electoral college system is stupid. What’s wrong with just using the popular vote?

  2. thejumbledmind says:

    I love this post. We have this whole democracy thing backwards. We now vote for people who align themselves with a party instead of aligning with their constituents. So, are they representing their party or their people?? Thanks for the great post!

  3. thejumbledmind says:

    Reblogged this on thejumbledmind and commented:
    We have this whole democracy thing backwards. We now vote for people who align themselves with a party instead of aligning with their constituents. So, are they representing their party or their people??Add your thoughts here… (optional)

  4. drugsandotherthings says:

    And let’s not forget- at the time of our founding fathers- a time the right in particular loves to wrap themselves i- we had mutliple parties and the president andvice president were often elected from different parties- not run as a single ticket.

    And let’s not forget- Ross Perot made a major run on the reform party tciket in ’96. And Ralph Nader may have largely doomed third parties as a green party candidate who splitthe vote in 2000 -without him Gore would have one handily (despite having won by every recount by every method after the fact). And of course the libertarians and the so called tea-party (so called as they have no real platform, and like libertarians tend to span the spectrum- though both tend towards the extremer right)
    Until election reform- allowing something akin to runoff election, and reform to publicly fund elections and remove the massive amount of corrupting private money- we will not see a 3rd party make substantial gains.

  5. Tea Party Slayer says:

    I’m about as down the middle as you can get. I worked around Wall Street and the investment community for years. I’ve done investor relations work for tech companies, banks, Nadaq, and large financial services holding companies. I’ve lived across the country, from Orange Country, CA to Washington, DC to Cary, NC. I voted for Bush in 2000, but turned on him even as the value of properies I held were going up $30K per month at one point, because I knew the imbalance he was creating and the financial chaos it would cause. I’ve uprooted my family, sold investments and made moves to financially brace myself for the eventual Bush disaster. I’m fine with gay marriage. I’m torn and unsure on abortion after seeing my son’s ultra-sounds, but respect that it’s a woman’s body, not mine. I understand both sides of the immigration debate.

    Understanding this is anonymous and means nothing, I preface with all this to provide a backdrop of why I’m sick and tired of posts like this one. There is a problem with only one party right now – the Tea Party GOP! On the flip side, there is a guy in the White House who is representing the down the middle, reasonable voter extremely well against powerful interests. Trust me, I ain’t the hope and change guy, but there is zero need for third party talk at this moment in history. If you think so, you don’t understand the big battle at hand.

    This down-the-middle voter throws my full support behind the guy trying to restore common-sense balance and pragmatism to our economy, foreign affairs, and lives.

    • eideard says:

      I wish you all the luck in the world, bro’. I presume by now you spend less time, then, watching CNBC since they feature schmucks like Kudlow who invented the acronym RINO – or Rick Santelli whose “spontaneous” rant on-air served as the official kickoff for the Tea Party.

      I don’t care if the middle-of-the-road politician wins. That increases the likelihood of our Bill of Rights being allowed to swing back towards liberty – if sufficient victories in Congress match a presidential victory. Crap like filibusters and unfunded mandates don’t go away on their own.

      • Tea Party Slayer says:

        I enjoyed your writing and respect your third party sentiment in general. I’m just obsessively focused on what I perceive as a debate that’s been building for years about what type of capitalism we want.

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