November 06, 2006

A Little of Each, All of Neither

I mentioned in my post regarding Iraq that I was not a democrat or a republican, and I thought I best explain that before the election. Not to say that it would become completely irrelevant after tomorrow, but politics certainly takes a back burner in most people’s minds after Election Day.

Most people in this country identify themselves politically by siding with a political party of choice. Unfortunately in this country, there’s effectively only two from which to choose, so it becomes a very polarized electorate. However, I seek out some sort of middle ground. I’m not a Democrat or a Republican. My voter registration information does not declare me as either, nor do I belong to any formal organization. I don’t attend meetings, I don’t donate money to any candidate, and I don’t volunteer for any campaigns. To call myself a member of either party without any level of participation above the ballot box would be a flagrant overstatement.

Beyond campaign participation and general support, I do not necessarily agree with either party on enough issues to substantiate supporting them in all cases. For a broad example, I am generally left leaning on social issues and more right leaning on economic ones. (i.e. support stem cell research and free trade) Few candidates stand on this kind of platform, and seldom is it regular in any one party.

Additionally, I can’t possibly agree with the Republican Party as a whole as they sit right now. Even though one of this party’s charter members was the much respected Abraham Lincoln, today they seem tied up with cronyism, sex scandal and a blunder of foreign policy. So many GOP politicians seem so much more focused on their own wallet than the direction of this country. Tom DeLay and Dick Cheney are great examples.

The Democratic Party isn’t much better. While they may not be locked in scandal, they frequently seem completely unable to organize themselves. So much of their political base has been fragmented by groups that do or do not support the Iraq war, and those that may or may not believe in “the defense of marriage.” What’s more, as the Republican Party has sabotaged itself so many times in the last five or so years, the Democrats have routinely failed to take advantage. Lacking organization and a spine, they don’t seem able to stand up for anything. They have sat silent through so many prime opportunities. That kind of political apathy makes them no better than their opposition.

I’ve never been a fan of the polarizing effects of a two party system. I much prefer the multi-party structure that is commonly found in the parliamentary systems of Europe. Germany, for example, has a solid government that allows for more than two political views to be expressed. Unfortunately, that is not an option in America.

In the mean time, I’m just going to stick to the issues and vote for candidates that agree with my line of thinking. I don’t go out of my way for red or blue. Colorblind voting, I’ll call it.


Dorito, esq. said...

I feel much the same way. However, while you are correct that many European systems allow for multiple party viewpoints, I don't think that it is preferable to our system (even ignoring the complications caused by EU law). The idea of a majority/minority dichotomy is expressed in the Constitution. Our system clearly gives much more power to the minority than any European country. This leads, theoretically, to more debate, more carefully considered laws, and somewhat of an understanding that one party will not railroad the other. The danger? Obviously, stagnation. However, I will gladly take that risk to protect our system of "veto gates," because it supports the notion that reasonable thought will usually prevail. Furthermore, while the government is clearly delineated between two parties, the same can hardly be said for he electorate. As this election demonstrated, the swing voters have much more power than either party forecasted. Yes, those of us in the middle are often forced to choose--in the immortal words of Trey Parker and Matt Stone--between a turd sandwich and a giant douche, but with so many of us in the middle picking and choosing issues, candidates will realize that pandering to a radical base will no longer be enough.

Tyler said...

Valid points, indeed. However, the central theme I like about the european system is simply that there are many different parties with many different views from which to choose. Often a party can be selected by a voter that fits their views exceptionally well, unlike the U.S. where you have conservative democrats and the like.

In the U.S., you either select democrat or republican, otherwise you;re "throwing away your vote". In europe, there is room for all parties that gain a threshold amount of votes. Also, it is rare that one party has a complete majority of the legislature (outside of the UK), meaning that they /must/ find common ground with other parties to make that majority and seat a government.

That line of thinking, at least in theory, seems like a more productive way of getting more voices heard, especially from minority or niche parties.