Sunday, October 13, 2013

What's Wrong with the American Political System?

Political Spectrum according to Liftarn

The current news about the US government shutting down, at least partially, and the looming debt crisis that could take both the American and the global economy for an undesirable and unpleasant spin is rather baffling, to put it mildly. How can a government just shut down is my main question and concern here.

Some of the main problems with the American political structure are due to its two-party system. There simply is not enough diversity in the government body; since they are more often split evenly that can cause serious problems when it comes to decision-making.

We can see it as the bickering between two people. In relationships sometimes negotiations can also come to a halt and one avoids addressing the other. This would continue until one party accepts concessions and incites and invites the other to have a dialogue again.

When things get to an impasse, we would need a somewhat impartial third-party to help us smooth our differences. In our relationships, this could be a friend or a relative who helps us see beyond our own narrow and set views.

Likewise, the Democrats and Republicans have their own love-hate relationship. Since the powers are split quite evenly, things can easily come to a standstill. But in most other countries, there are more parties to go around – the more the merrier – and so if you wanted to make such vital decisions, you would have to consult and would need the support of others to get it done. In other words, it would be more difficult and cumbersome to shut down the government.

Yet it is not only the limited amount of parties that is of issue here, but also the lack of clear ideology. Most of the times, the US feels like a one-party government. There are so many overlaps between their positions that it is at times difficult to discern who represents which party.

One of these examples is the occasional switching between party lines. It then seems like a game of hot potatoes where people simply change their allegiance. If the parties were significantly different from each other along the political spectrum this would be a very rare event since the left and right wings would rarely meet each other halfway on the centrist path.

My second point relates to the startling history of both parties. In fact, in the past, it was the Democrats who were the “bad” guys and who were broken up into War and Peace Democrats, while great Republican heroes and thinkers like Abraham Lincoln fought unjust laws and regulations, such as slavery. As a visible minority your vote used to go to the Republicans who initially took civil rights to heart.

Then the parties became mirror images of each other. The Democrats became champions of civil rights and justice especially after Roosevelt's New Deal, while the Republicans generally opposed such rulings or liberal ideas. The country became split similar to Civil War times where the South differed significantly in ideology from the North.

It seems to me bizarre that both parties could overhaul their historical records and positions. It astonishes me because it does not give us stability and accountability in views and ideology. In other words, this gives the impression that any party could go in any direction at any time at a whim. That would make voting much more difficult and as reliable and trustworthy as reading your horoscope.

All in all, there is not enough choice offered in American politics. It is chicken breast or thighs, but both parts come from the same animal. Since the spectrum of political views is not covered sufficiently, there is not only more bickering but also more variation among the politicians themselves and within the party. This leads to contradictory statements about Democrat presidents having been the best Republicans in office, and vice versa.

Since there is so much leeway and lack of alignment within one's party, we have movements such as the Tea Party, which is giving the whole Republican party a dangerous turn towards the right. Within the party, there is a lack of harmony because it includes a dissonant and desolate body of voices and opinions. Perhaps it would be good idea and time to separate such minor factions and to turn them into viable opposition parties.

Indeed as polls suggest about a third of the American population consider themselves as Independents, perhaps waiting to align themselves with an alternative third party. Because next time, people vote for a party, they will want to have more security and assurance to get who and what they believed voting for in the first place.