Friday, August 05, 2005

The two-party political system in the United States is broken, and more and more people are disgusted with the rhetoric from Republicans and Democrats alike. Both parties have been co-opted by fringe extremist groups that refuse to participate in sane, non-partisan debate and compromise that would end the current government deadlock that grips our country. It is a travesty that will continue until the system comes to a complete halt (not too distant future!) or until citizens finally demand true accountability and governance from their elected officials. It’s time people realize neither liberal nor conservative is a bad word, or a bad position; only when either view is taken to narrow-minded extremes do problems arise.

Sufficiently independent moderates who truly serve the best interests of the country as a whole must be given a voice, resources, and power, to return government to a stable, functioning body. Without this return to sanity, the United States will continue on its downward spiral, not only in world opinion, but in internal value and substance as well. As long as elections are based on personalities and polarizing non-issues, truly important topics, i.e., education reform, health care, environmental concerns, will be left unaddressed (except on the negative, finger-pointing level) and without resolution.

The media in general only serves to heighten the tension between the extremes, focusing on ‘red’ and ‘blue’ states as if any one region is all or nothing. The honor and value of cooperation and compromise have been lost in the shrillness of a losing battle on ‘family values’ and an unspecific ‘war on terrorism,’ as if terrorism were that easily defined or identified.

It is interesting to note that the divisiveness of the parties fades considerably the closer one gets to local government. At least in small town America, it is far more important to keep the schools open, the trash collected, and the streets safe than to worry about which party controls village council. And that is as it should be. Some people, of course, insist on keeping the national rhetoric alive, but at a much lower key and with less negative impact on governing than what Washington D.C. seems to face.

I have voted in every available election since 1976, when I turned 18, and consider it my duty to be an informed, involved citizen at the polls. But the current political climate makes that commitment increasingly difficult. I’m tired of choosing the lesser of two evils for any given office, of voting against someone rather than for a candidate who truly embodies the spirit of community service. I would be happy to help my local government by working at the polls, but because I refuse to identity with either of the existing, broken-but-in-charge parties, my offer is not accepted.

So the two-party system continues to chug along, barely functioning, moving on its own tired momentum rather than on inspiration and growth and hope for a better tomorrow. A body in motion tends to stay in motion, but the perpetual motion machine has yet to be invented, and I very seriously doubt our government will be the one to find that impetus. It will grind to a halt without an influx of new ideas and new motivations, and the courage to stand up to the old-school, neo-con, left-wing, radical forces that currently hold us all hostage.

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