By Nick BeJeaux
In our last installment of Statesmen & Snollygosters, we touched on the fact that there are more colors in the political spectrum than red and blue. However, after closer inspection of this term’s list of Senatorial candidates, we have determined that this is a load of crap – at least in Louisiana.
Only two candidates running for seats in the Senate and the house do not fly the flag of the Democratic or Republican party, and they both happen to be Libertarians: Brannon McMorris (Senate) and Rufus Craig (House). Meanwhile, Democrats have a combined eight candidates and Republicans have 12 for this year’s Nov. 6 election. You’re likely thinking: “Who cares? Those are the only parties that really matter.” But did you know that there are three other major parties and over two dozen minor ones? When was the last time a Libertarian won at least 20 percent of the vote in Louisiana? A member of the Green Party? Forget it – environmentalists never get elected to any meaningful seats in LA thanks to Big Oil, but they are not entirely to blame.
But this is a problem on a national scale, not just in Louisiana.
With the bitter political infighting and the resulting gridlock on Capitol Hill of late, it is becoming more and more apparent (painfully obvious, actually) that our two-party system is not functioning as it should. The problem inherent in this system is that the two parties embody two completely opposite ideologies: more government vs. less government. While that distinction was blurred by religious zealots that hijacked the “conservative” label, it doesn’t change the fact that it is incredibly difficult to smash these two extremes together and produce effective decisions, dialogue and policies.
Now, not being a political scientist – merely a reluctant enthusiast – I have no idea of what would happen if a third, fourth or fifth party rose to prominence in the United States. But maybe that’s exactly why we need them. Washington and (more importantly) Louisiana needs to be shaken up a little – turned on its head, really, so we can be sure we got all the dust out – and new ideas and perspectives must be allowed to take root and grow. Imagine if someone from the Pirate Party had a voice in the FCC, or if a Congressman from the U.S. Pacifist Party helped shape the Affordable Care Act.
The idea that the two-party system is getting old is actually nothing new. According to numbers collected by the Pew Research Center in 2012, 57 percent of voters think there should be a third major party in the U.S. besides Democrats or Republicans – but two years later we’re still stuck in the same rut. However, the news isn’t all that bad.
As we pointed out last week, the most diverse and connected generation in history – the Millennials – will make up over a third of the electorate. Because we are so diverse and we are able to test our personalities and ideals over the Internet, Generation Y has more nuanced beliefs than previous generations. We tend to see in shades of gray, or, in this case, purple; and that’s what this country needs if it is to move forward.
This is a complicated problem, and it demands infinitely more complicated solutions. Do we uplift another party? Should we keep our system as-is? Should we even have political parties? It may take years – possibly generations – until we discover how to fix our ailing system. Best we start figuring it out now