We all have visions of our country. One is a vision of what we see and the other a vision of what we want to see. I believe the vast majority of us want to see a Democracy, or to put it another way a government that is responsive to the majority will of the citizens. So for those who believe we have an unresponsive government read on.
Borrowing from The Gettysburg Address a “government of the people, by the people, for the people” sounds like a desirable vision for our government. I believe that something along this line was the original intent. Sadly, it isn’t what we have today. People from every part of the political spectrum, both voters and nonvoters seem to share a common view that politicians don’t listen to us.
Looking solely at the financial wealth of our politicians and senior judges we should all feel a lack of representation. These people are not from our neighborhoods and towns. You won’t see them in the stores where you shop. Their children don’t go to our schools. They don’t live with us in our neighborhoods. Well fed, well heeled and pampered for years they left us behind a long time ago. I can’t speak for you but I know that I have no sense of connection with my politicians. When I happen to see one, he/she is only talking at me, never with me. Was this the original plan?
The Founders didn’t plan for political parties. Many of them were opposed to having political parties but shortly after Congress got going political parties were quickly formed anyway. This shouldn’t be surprising as we are social creatures and the best way to get things done is via collective action, thus political parties. On a somewhat comical note Thomas Jefferson is quoted as saying “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all” yet he and James Madison founded and led the Democratic-Republican Party in 1792. Our majority to win elections pretty well ensures that only 2 political parties can survive and no more.
This 2 party business is at the root of much of the growing indifference of the general population. With such a narrow choice the existing parties have ossified into essentially corporations which are funded by wealth and organized to ensure only members of the wealthy class or those friendly to the wealthy class get on the ballots. Since both corporate parties are chasing the same funding they have migrated to the same end of the political spectrum. Both wealthy people and corporate organizations are at heart authoritarian. They give orders and expect compliance.
Our citizens, however, are an ornery lot and not overly prone to obedience when it doesn’t suit or help them. Now that the country has a two party system made up of an ultra-right religious militaristic party and a watered down liberal militaristic party a significant number of citizens are refusing to support either one. The largest portion of the population is unaffiliated and I suspect many who are either Democrat or Republican are largely indifferent to their party leadership. This state of affairs did not arise overnight but developed as the two existing parties chased the money and filled our government with Millionaires working for the Billionaires. It is a rare politician that rises from our part of the population and when one does appear the media (owned by Billionaires) wastes no opportunity to smear and sneer at them no matter which party they belong to.
So, where do we go from here? The pressures for change are building in the general population as the standard of living of many people continues to decline. Those with wealth fill their media with the good news of ever rising profits and cooked data on unemployment to show that life for us is good. The stock markets profit only the upper 10% while employment continues to include far too many reduced hour or reduced wage jobs. The drumbeat of ‘good’ economic news flies in the face of our day to day struggles as well as the struggles of our children. The inequalities of wealth and income favor the wealthy. Since the wealthy fund and populate the political parties supporting those parties won’t change anything in our favor.
There have been efforts at reforming the two parties by the disgruntled. In the ultra-right party it was the Tea Party movement that shook things up. In the center-right make-believe liberal party the growing Progressive and Democratic Socialist movements continue to cause turmoil. These efforts to gain a voice for the general population are encouraging but will have little long term impact as neither corporate party can exist without the support of the wealthy and the wealthy will not support any party that sides with greater financial equality.
I would hope that in time enough people will realize that the only path out of this wealthy party trap is to move to a new party. While I agree that our political structure will not support more than 2 parties I see no reason why people turning to a new party couldn’t replace one of the two current wealth driven parties. There are more than enough disaffected voters to pull this off once people are willing to reach through the despair for the courage strike out in new directions. We are all kindling awaiting the match.
A retired Engineer, Jimmie Galbreath grew up on a small family owned dairy in Jefferson County, MS. He earned a B.S in Petroleum Engineering from MS State University, accumulated over 20 years experience at Grand Gulf Nuclear Power Station and Calvert Cliffs Nuclear Power Station. Along the way, he worked as a roustabout on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico, served three years active service as a Quartermaster Officer in the US Army, Supervised brick kilns first in MS than in Atlanta GA and whatever else it took to skin the cat along the way. He now lives on the Eastern Shore of Maryland.