In one of his more famous stand-up routines, comedian, Lewis Black joked, “the difference between Republicans and Democrats is Republicans suck and Democrats blow.”
This seems to be the attitude of most Americans. Most Americans seem to think the government is broken but we don’t always agree on why and few agree on how to fix it. The problem may lie in partisan politics.
For a long time American elections have been run by a two party system, but never has it been controlled by two parties that are as strong as they are today. There are usually plenty of parties to choose from, such as the progressives or the Whig. Now only two parties; the Republicans and the Democrats, run the show.
This can cause a problem for most voters. People now have to choose between conservative or liberal candidates. So if you are want gun control but don’ like abortion, or you like the health care bill and want America to stay in Iraq, you are out of luck.
According to the Pew Research Center, in 2008, 36 percent of the voters were independent. 35 percent were Democrat and 27 percent Republican. You would think that if independent voters were the majority, then Independent and third party politicians would make up 37 percent of the Senate and House of Representatives. Right now there are no Independents in the House of Representatives and only two Independent Senators. One of the Independent Senators, Joe Lieberman, used to be a Democrat but did not win his party’s primary election, so he started the Connecticut for Lieberman party.
The country has not always neglected third parties as it has been lately.According to a paper published by Shigeo Hirano of Colombia University and James Snyder from MIT, from 1890 to 1920, there were nearly five times as many third party congressional representatives as there were from 1950-1970. The closest a third party candidate ever got to the presidency was Theodore Roosevelt in 1916.
In certain states the Democratic and Republican parties have been denying Independents the right to vote in primaries. This can only make the partisan problems worse.
When officials are elected, instead of having a diverse group of people choosing, it will be a small number of people, mostly with the same radical views. A few people will be deciding the candidates for everyone.
This completely takes diversity out of the voting process. Diversity is what has made America unique. Because we have had people from so many places come to America to work together, we have built one of the best nations on Earth.
Unfortunately, this partisanship is starting to rear its ugly head. According to a Gallup poll taken in January, Obama had an 82 percent approval rating from Democrats and an 18 percent approval rating among Republicans. Anyone who has seen any coverage of the health care debate can easily see the partisanship.
What this means is that politicians only have to appeal to a certain group to be elected. As long as they keep a strong group of followers on either the conservative or liberal sides, it will be hard for them to be beat by anyone except the opposite party. Politicians will no longer have to change their viewpoints or try to improve themselves. They will only stay stagnant so that they can keep their voters.
This has especially shown to be true in the last decade. In the 2004 election, the Democratic Party was in disarray. They had no plans for the future and no platform to run off of except for the anti-Bush propaganda. Since then, the Democratic Party has gotten new leadership. Barrack Obama has given them a plan and a new direction. Meanwhile, the Republicans are now in disarray. They rarely show anything new and often resort to criticizing the president and rooting for him to fail.
It is time for America to stop looking at politics in black and white. There are a million different viewpoints to take and it doesn’t make sense to narrow all of politics down to two choices.