Friday, December 30, 2016

Democrats and Republicans: It's my party and I'll cry if I want to

I'm a fan of the Independent Voter Network in passing. I believe that they are doing great work at helping third parties and independents gain a voice in politics. So it's without very much surprise that I see articles like this, Libertarian Party Robbed of Party Status. From the article:
Out of all the winners of the 2016 elections, the biggest might have been the Libertarian Party (LP). While Libertarian presidential candidate Gary Johnson did not reach the coveted 5% in national polls to boost his party in future presidential elections, he did help his party extend its ballot access to 39 states for the 2018 elections.
Ballot access means that for at least 39 states, the Libertarian Party will not have to spend millions on gathering the signatures needed to see members of their party on the ballot. And they also gained enough votes to attain major party status in several states. Unfortunately, two of those states do not share the same enthusiasm, it seems that Democrats and Republicans are both challenging the results to keep the Libertarians out. Seriously? Washington and Ohio can't stomach the idea of a third major party in their state?

So, just for fun, I did a search for "how the two-party system keeps everyone else out". The results were very interesting. I found that some Republicans are not happy with Trump as president and at least one is calling for a new conservative party to replace the currently inebriated (on power) GOP. It is actually surprising to see calls for more political parties from people who identify as "Republican". Last August, some Republicans wanted to make the GOP a "workers party". I wonder if they're still feel the same way now that Trump won.

On the left, we have the Green Party. They're not quite as organized as the Libertarians, but they too, have grievances about the two party system. Jill Stein requested a recount in 3 swing states and even Hillary jumped in thinking that somehow she would come out a winner only to lose a second time. There is no question that both major parties have been colluding together to keep third parties and independents out. Even an independent Senator from Vermont running as a Democrat could not pull it off. But he sure as hell woke us up.

It is actually surprising that Republicans and Democrats have managed to hang on for so long since both parties command minorities in voter registration. The Republicans had something like 26% and still won the White House. The Democrats had 30% and still managed to lose it upon news of Trump's win. 43% of voters are now registered as independent, yet still cannot muster the votes needed to bring in third party candidates.

Democrats and Republicans could not pull this off without a lot of help from other people. Clearly, they are running the Electoral College as the vast majority of people selected to be electors are Democrats or Republicans.

Then we have the Commission on Presidential Debates. It used to be that the League of Women Voters ran the debates and there are some who might say they were more fair about the debate process. It is unfortunate that the CPD is just another arm for the Democrats and Republicans. It's a handy tool to keep the press focused on just the Democrats and Republicans now that they're running the show. Criticism of the CPD is mounting and it is becoming clear that we really need open debates. This is how far the establishment is willing to go to keep third parties out - from the Wikipedia page on CPD:
On October 16, 2012, Green Party presidential nominee Jill Stein and vice-presidential nominee Cheri Honkala were arrested for disorderly conduct while trying to take part in the second presidential debate at Hofstra University in Hempstead, New York. The two women claimed they were taken to a warehouse, and strapped for eight hours to chairs with plastic wrist restraints before being released.
Note that the CPD works hand in hand with the press. When third party candidates try to organize other debates, they are routinely ignored because the two presidential candidates from the major parties are not there. It is clear that mainstream media would prefer a two-party system, even if it works against the interests of a majority of voters.

Both major parties have become more brazen with abuses of power over the last two decades. Both claim to represent the people, but the people are starting to get it that they really have very little say in how government works. We see big money in politics. We see how people who abuse power are so often given a pass or just a light sentence if there is enough political pressure to pursue imprisonment.

Both major parties have acted with impunity against the interests of American people because they believe that large contributions from wealthy individuals and corporations will save them. Impunity? Where have I seen that word before? Merriam-Webster defines impunity as follows: exemption or freedom from punishment, harm, or loss.

Both major parties believe that they can act with impunity against American voters. They've got the nomination processed locked up to prevent upstarts from winning the nomination (this disease is known as Tweedism). They've got every position in the Electoral College to prevent third parties from wining the White House. They've got the CPD working with them and the press to ensure we're focused on their candidates and no others. They've got Congressional districts that look more like amoebas caught in the act of asexual reproduction than a group of people seeking a voice in government. There were 132 Americans funding at least 60% of all SuperPAC money in 2012, and they're still running the circus. That's impunity.

Democrats and even some Republicans are now claiming that the Russians have something to do with the outcome of the election. Democrats would rather have us worry about Russians than to think about the content of their emails. They would rather not prosecute one of their own than stand up for democracy. Republicans would rather not have us notice that they control a majority of statehouses across the United States, they occupy a majority of governor's mansions and have been increasing their power in Congress despite being unpopular. Just how do they do that with 26% of voters registered as Republican?

Now I can see why Democrats and Republicans would cry if it even looks like the people want alternatives to them. They seem worried they might lose their ability to act with impunity. When our leaders act with impunity, a lack of accountability is implied. Impunity implies tyranny, not democracy. Impunity follows the money, not the people.
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