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Commentary Last Updated: Oct 25th, 2006 - 00:24:15

Political prestidigitation: The Illusion of a two-party system
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer

Oct 25, 2006, 00:21

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There appears to be a political pearl of wisdom, one of considerable luster, adorning the forthcoming election. Something like: �If after the non-stop self-flagellation, led by their Dodo-In-Chief, the inept Republicans don�t lose control of Congress -- at the very least the House -- then, the wimpy Democrats, after being comatose for 12 years, will be formally declared a party brain-dead.�

Does the wimp have enough muscle left to dethrone the inept? And if it does, what will it do once it assumes power? The hope is for good answers to such sorry questions.

For at least two generations we have been living the entrenched lie that ours is a two-party political system where the choice is one of substance, not of vestments. In a very simplistic way, voters view the Republican Party as representing conservative ideas and values, while they see the Democratic Party as the advocate of liberal and progressive causes. In both cases we have it wrong: totally, completely and unequivocally wrong.

Today�s Republicans do not stand for the old conservative values of fiscal responsibility and efficient government; nor can Democrats be cast as the proponents of progressive ideas and hope for lower and middle classes. When will all these myths be debunked?

Reality tells us that both Democratic and Republican parties are just two parallel lanes in the track leading to power and wealth -- not just for politicians, but for those who sponsor their election. Both are just factions of one party at the right of the political spectrum: the Capital-First Unity Party. Neither has to do with conservatism or liberalism, only self-serving egocentrism and wealth-gathering. No need to belabor on that self-evident truth. Our founding fathers chose not to give us a participatory democracy, giving us instead a representative democracy, one that has broken down and is in need of a complete overhaul. The assumption we follow is that government�s reason for being is to serve people, all people. Today, that�s far from being the case.

The countdown for the midterm election is here. Although Election Day remains less than two weeks away, some of the voting -- much in several states -- will take place before November 7, with that day representing but the end of a period, the last day to have a say. So, save some last minute explosive surprise that can skew the casting of the residual vote, the political fate of the nation is �just about� determined with many ballots now, and in the next few days, being marked and put in the mail.

I�m really saying �fate of the nation� with a smirk on my face, well aware that the nation�s fate was probably cast long ago, and that it really makes little difference whether Congress is in the hands of Tweedledum or Tweedledee. But even in my frustration of being cheated out of true political choice, I still care. And, accordingly, I will vote. In fact, my Sunday liturgy reached its crescendo when marking my ballot choices, all now waiting in a sealed and stamped envelope ready to be mailed.

Why do I vote when I feel so estranged from a system of duopoly musical chairs where the two parties take their turns to mismanage the affairs of the people in this nation? Simply because I still hope that it will count in keeping alive that �little difference.� And what is that little difference, that last gasp of choice? For me, it�s a last effort to slow down the speed at which our society marches towards a point of no return: a two-class society where confrontation will not just be at the ballot box every two years, but in our everyday lives; an ugly continuous battle between the haves and the have-nots. And also between those who choose war to dominate, and those who remain convinced that it�s because of our military might that we should seek peace. In a nutshell, my vote is just a way of saying that although we�re sinking in the sand, and fast, we need to keep the hope alive for someone with heart and leadership to throw us a rope.

My last ounce of optimism rests in the promise we can slow down the clock, and that during that borrowed-time a miracle of political conscience can take place reversing this clear anti-social, illiberal direction the nation has been taking for too long; a path to the harsh realization that the American Dream -- not just economic, but spiritual as well -- is undergoing a political metamorphosis that can convert it into the American Nightmare.

Even as we see around us a completely broken (system of) government, one that can be summed up as a collection of powerful lobbies ruling over powerless people, many remain convinced that our representative democracy is still effective, the world�s best. That idea will certainly be challenged after this election should Congress remain in the hands of the GOP even if a significant majority of the vote is cast for Democrats.

I am just praying that by voting for Democratic candidates we�ll be buying a little more time, should they win, so that a miracle might happen that will help change America�s course. Perhaps America will be able to cleanse and redeem itself after the ill omen brought about by Bush. Hope springs eternal . . . but if not Democrats, what other choice do we have?

� 2006 Ben Tanosborn

Ben Tanosborn, columnist, poet and writer, resides in Vancouver, Washington (USA), where he is principal of a business consulting firm. Contact him at

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