This past Sunday here at the Partial Observer, Everett Wilson called for new parties to take the place of the Republican and Democratic.
I want new parties, too. Who doesn't?
And fortunately, the Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United vs the FEC will provide steps in the right direction. The ruling substantially removes restraints on political speech. (My employer, the Downsize DC Foundation, provided a Friend of the Court brief on the side of Citizens United and the First Amendment in the case. Further commentary is provided here and here.)
Restraints on speech and press, which campaign finance laws impose on individuals (and groups of individuals), rig the system to favor incumbents, the established parties, and the corporate-owned major media. Removing these obstacles increases the free flow of information, making new ideas and new parties possible.
What is really required, however, is reform of the ballot access laws. In most locales, they are rigged against alternatives to the Democratic and Republican parties. ONLY public pressure from the voters can force any reform at all; Republicans and Democrats have no reason to change a system that works to their benefit. America doesn't need a "two-party" system; we have one only because thieves in both parties have made it so.
What is truly remarkable about the Constitutional system of government in the U.S. is that, of all nations, it is the best adapted to a multi-party system. Parliamentary forms of government usually have multiple parties leading to fragile coalition governments and frequent elections. The U.S.'s independent executive in the Presidency, and the fixed election cycle, guarantees some continuity.
But will new parties arise? Only if there's greater commitment by the people to break up the two-party monopoly. Which is unlikely. Many people don't like what the current alternative parties stand for. And of the two major parties, it's not that the people dislike either entirely, they just don't like the mix of branding and issue-items offered on the shelves of the Republican and Democratic stores. When someone from a major party comes along who charms them enough to get them excited - an Obama or a Palin - then they cast their votes for the same old same-old. Others, in mortal fear of these "charismatic"(?) but "dangerous" candidates, go on defense and vote for the Lesser of Two Evils. So the two-party cycle continues even as the people complain about the two parties.
I don't know how, exactly, we get from the current status quo to a multi-party system. But I'd love to see a United States with countless local and national parties. Below are some political parties I'd like to see. I suppose all of them are "unserious" (i.e., "that will never happen") and a couple are intentionally satirical. Nevetheless, I present them to challenge your thinking as to what YOU would want in a political party. Here are my ideas:
1. The Black Ribbon Party. Committed entirely to putting the country and its people "in the black," making money instead of owing it. (This Black Ribbon concept is borrowed from a group on Facebook). The party won't make promises on how this will be done; it won't promise free enterprise or socialism, more war or more peace, more freedoms or fewer. It just makes the promise because it knows how to achieve these things. Motto in every election: "Give us four years, no questions asked. You'll be better off."
2. The Monarchy Party. Committed to changing the Constitution to create a lifetime, hereditary Chief Executive who alone proposes laws. A one-house Congress, with thousands of delegates, must approve every new law, tax, or declaration of war with a) a 60% vote of the states acting as delegations, and b) a 60% vote of the individual members of Congress voting as a whole. Repeal of laws, however, would require just a 50% vote of the state delegations and individual members. (This would only work if I was the first Monarch. Maybe it should be called the James Leroy Wilson Party.)
3. The Independent States Party. "Secession" sounds too Confederate, which sounds too racist. But the train of abuses the federal government has perpetrated on the states and the people is much longer than that which Jefferson wrote about the British Crown and Parliament in the Declaration of Independence. The left-leaning 2nd Vermont Republic is an example of this growing movement.
4. The Honesty In Government/ Narcissism Coalition Party. Motto: "Our soldiers don't die for freedom, they kill for money! Our cops and bureaucrats are on the take! If you go along to get along, everyone will be better off!"
5. The Experimental Good Men Party. Edmund Burke is (probably falsely) attributed the quote "All that is necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing." This experimental party puts this "truism" to the test. First, elect only "good" men and women - honest, decent, virtuous, and conscientious - as long as they're committed to doing nothing. That is, they must refuse to legislate for the "common good" or to "fix" a social condition they don't like. Because most evil men who seek political power believe themselves to be well-intentioned and "good," any politician who seeks to use political means to diminish the people's life, liberty, and property will actually be trying to do "something." The intent of this experimental party is to expose the fact that it is evil men, not good men, who try to get what they earnestly desire through political means.
All other forms of "evil" people are really just common criminals looking for violent thrills or for ways to steal. There are already laws to find and punish them. The truly "evil" ones seek political office.
6. The Rhinoceros Party. A defunct Canadian political party seeking an American revival on Facebook.
It recommended that the law of gravity be repealed and that Canada declare war on Belgium for no particular reason. The purpose was to laugh at these suggestions.
Then again, the U.S. has the Republican Party (with an elephant, not a rhino, as its symbol). Many of its adherents have believed in repealing the laws of biology and supported the invasion of weak, harmless Iraq.
And also, the Democratic Party has recently advocated the repeal of all laws of economics and supported the conquest of weak, impoverished, but historically unconquerable Afghanistan.
If a new party does form in the U.S., I predict it may very well be the Rhinoceros Party. In its most absurd ideas, it is no less foolish than the ideas from the parties of the Elephant and the Ass.