The polarization of American politics today has gotten to such an extreme, or we might say, fallen to such a low, that there is very little that Congress can actually accomplish.
It seems the Republican Party is controlled by the extreme right-wing conservative politicians. Likewise, the Democrat Party is controlled by the left-wing liberal politicians.
There is way too much negativity on the part of both major political parties. Each only seems to be able to voice what they are against, not what they are for. This attitude prevents either party from effectively legislating for the good of the total constituency of the nation. It’s what my Grandmother used to call ‘cutting off your nose to spite your face.’
It is my firm belief that the vast majority of Americans fall in the middle fifty per cent of a ‘conservative verses liberal’ scale or spectrum. The two twenty-five percentage groups on either end of the scale are the ones currently running the show.
There is no room for compromise on virtually any issue facing America. Compromise can only occur in Congress when ‘reasonable’ elected officials, put aside petty partisan politics, and strive, their dead level best, to come up with solutions for the common good.
There is growing evidence that the American electorate is becoming less and less enamored with the current two party system. In fact there is a growing distaste for Republicans and Democrats and their hard-line inflexible ideology and unwillingness to compromise.In fact, Independents or non-affiliated voters, outnumber Republicans or Democrats in total registration in at least eleven states. This is the fastest growing segment of the electorate in the country.
The importance of the independent vote was forcefully demonstrated in the recent election of Republican Scott Brown to fill the unexpired seat of the late Democratic Senator Ted Kennedy of Massachusetts, a state that is usually considered very liberal, where Democrats outnumber Republicans by a 2-1 margin.
The most eye-opening aspect of this special election was the voter turnout. It is true that Republican Brown got most of the Republican votes and Democrat Martha Coakley received most of the Democratic votes, but the election was determined by the Independents. Yes, Independents, the middle-of-the-roaders, those with no party affiliation.
For you see, 46 per cent of the voters in Massachusetts are registered Independents, with 35 per cent being Democrats, and only 19 per cent registered as Republicans.
Traditionally, Independent candidates or ‘third party’ candidates, those who ran as neither, Democrats nor Republicans, were more or less seen as election ‘spoilers’. They could only sway enough votes to, perhaps, hurt one of the major candidates’ chances to win.
This was due mostly due to the way the national election process is set up with the Electoral College. A winner-take-all system whereby a single candidate gets all the electoral votes, at least in most states.
Only three times has a third party candidate received a significant number of electoral votes. They were when John C. Breckenridge, in 1860 received 72 votes running as a Southern Democrat; Teddy Roosevelt in 1912, received 88 electors as a Progressive candidate; and George Wallace, as an American Independent, received 46 electoral votes in 1968.
Ross Perot in 1992, running as a Reform Party candidate, received nearly 19 per cent of the total votes cast, but won no electors.
There are still several so-called third parties. They include the Libertarian Party, the Green Party, the Reform Party, the Constitutional Party, the Socialist Party, and a number of others.
These parties usually are devoted to one or a few special issues that are not of primary concern to the two larger parties. I don’t feel that they will make any significant in-roads in the near future.
However, nationwide, the voters are registered as approximately 43 per cent registered Democrats, 33 per cent registered Republicans, and 25 per cent Independents.
It is this 25 per cent of Independents, along with the 25 per cent moderate Democrats and the 25 per cent of the moderate Republicans that are going to win elections and govern this nation.
The sooner the extreme elements of the political party spectrum realizes this, the better off all Americans will be. There is no room for politicians that are more interested in their extreme party ideology than they are the good of America. We need elected officials who will put this country first.
To quote Gary Burbank’s redneck character, Earl Pitts: “Wake up, America.”