Political prestidigitation: The Illusion of a two-party system
By Ben Tanosborn
Online Journal Contributing Writer
Oct 25, 2006, 00:21
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.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.
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