Letters to the Editor

Multiparty system?

August 13, 2011

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To the editor:

Ms. Slemmer (Public Forum, Aug. 9) has found a simple ideological causality for the downgrade of our national credit rating. She is entitled to her opinion. It is unfortunate that such opinions make the actual resolution of the large deficit facing our country so difficult. Compromise is difficult under the best of circumstances. Demonizing your opponent makes it even harder.

I have been vocal in blaming our elected officials for this problem. I admit my error. The real problem is those extremists in both parties that drive our debate. In an environment where the majority of our national legislature is assured election by political association, the extremes in the two parties dominate.

While the majority of the electorate self-identifies as moderate, they seem to have little influence with the party leadership loyal to those extremes. The old not-so-sneaky trick of splitting the national leadership in the search for compromise no longer works. On the contrary, compromise may be fatal to the political survival of an elected official.

Perhaps the only way we can address hard problems like our debt crisis in the political environment prevailing today is to establish one or more centrist parties to which the moderates can gravitate. The abrupt and erratic progress when the electorate infrequently grants political control to one of the existent parties may just be too disruptive to justify the continuation of our two-party system. We might learn from our many democratic allies that a multiparty system better serves the public interest.

Comments

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

Apparently George Washington agrees with you. I did a bit of web searching and found an article from 2006 in 'Forbes' that seems to sum it all up. I can't think of a single thing to add to it.

The title is 'Was George Washington Right?', by Paul Johnson.

the following is all clipped from: http://www.forbes.com/global/2006/0508/014.html

Running and promoting political parties in the 21st century is very expensive. Raising sufficient funds by appealing to the idealism of the party faithful is no longer possible, if it ever was. Baser motives have to be tapped, which means corruption in one form or another. And the evidence seems to suggest that in nearly all the Western democracies party fundraising is now the biggest single area of corruption.

Later in the article: George Washington addressed the problem of political parties 200 years ago in his Farewell Address. He conceded, grudgingly, that it is "probably true" that, "within certain limits" political "parties in free countries are useful checks upon the administration of the government and serve to keep alive the spirit of liberty." But he added that party spirit was "not to be encouraged." He thought "there will always be enough of [it] for every salutary purpose." As there was "constant danger of excess, the effort ought to be by force of public opinion to mitigate and assuage it."

He compared the competition of parties to inflammation: "A fire not to be quenched, it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest, instead of warming, it should consume."

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

There are several dozen political parties in the US. We don't need another party, we need elected officials that make realistic promises during their campaign and keep those promises at all costs during their term(s) in office. It doesn't matter what a person's political philosophy is as long as he is honest and keeps the promises they make on the campaign trail. Americans are smart enough to pick the right path for America, they just can't spot a well-tailored liar, especially a panderer. That's good for the used car business, not so much for America.

jhawkinsf 3 years, 8 months ago

Politics has been described as the art of compromise. Your comment suggests you do not agree with that assessment.

Liberty275 3 years, 8 months ago

If politicians weren't pandering for votes and did all they could to keep their promises, compromising wouldn't be an issue. The election is the compromise, all that is left is for the politicians to honor the words that got them elected.

calmoderate 3 years, 8 months ago

With respect, I think we do need another political party. Not one of the small ones already in existence (Libertarian, Green, Socialist, Nazi, etc) or the big two. We need a party focused on solving problems without influence from the inevitable ideological spin or special interest money corruption. It is unreasonable to solid supporters (not necessarily activists) of either of the two in power to see their own parties for the failures and sell-outs they are. That asks too much. For most people, human nature can't take that kind of psychological beating. Many sincere people have spent years sincerely believing in their own party (Democratic or Republican). Their loyalty is unshakable. They cannot change. They simply cannot.

The only way to force new thinking, pragmatism and transparency into the politics is to get behind an intelligent, uncorrupted, non-ideological new party. If ideology is what you believe in, then there is plenty of that in the two in power now and the smaller ones if those two don't deliver enough. There has to be a pragmatic third position to drive debate and a point to nudge compromise toward. At present, all we have is the right and the left. That would be fine if the right and/or the left had a track record of success. Unfortunately, they have a track record of staggering failure. And, they have had all the power for decades. They can't blame the Socialists or Nazis for failure. The world is more complicated that just right and left.

Clearly, Democrats and Republicans, their ideology and the special interests who buy them have all failed. The record is clear. What else is there to try other than another party? Politicians in the big two are not going to change because what they do now succeeeds for them and their special interest campaign contributors. Expecting meaningful change from either party in power is an oxymoron at best. The essence of the modern Democratic and Republican parties is to fight to the death to maintain the status quo, not to reform.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Correction-- we have one right-wing party, Republicans, and one center-right party, Democrats.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

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KayCee 3 years, 8 months ago

bozo has trouble 'adjusting his line of sight'. He stands at an obtuse angle and believe he sees a cleart view.
There is the center right=Rep. And the left=Dem. But then a lot of posters here have that problem.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

There are three political parties ...maybe

Republican - the endangered species such as Sandy Praeger,Olympia Snowe and Dwight D. Eishenhower

Democrat - who often appear more like moderate republicans which could be where moderate republicans migrated after being run out of their own party by RINO's.

RINO (Tea Party Neoconservative Christian Fundamentalist) This group ran against republicans with enough gusto and money to assume the republican party name. Thus avoiding the ballot process and gathering of signatures that are required to become a "legal third party". 1980 was a big year for the RINO party and they have not looked back.

RINO's love war,oil, home loan scams with two under their belts and sending millions upon millions upon millions of jobs abroad. They also loved hostile takeovers,unfriendly mergers and mini monopolies such as the press.

What makes this party so damn successful?
1. voters do not pay attention to politics 2. Republicans voting blindly by any name that claims to be republican 3. billions spent during political campaigns by so many candidates who beat up on other parties yet offer no substance during their campaigns. 4. RINO candidates sounding exactly like a republican yet after taking office take on the RINO platform which makes it easy because voters pay no attention to what the elected official is doing. Sam Brownback is the perfect example 5. RINO"s are masters of deception and distract voters by way of sex and abortion to the point that voters forget all about: a. loss jobs b. home loan scams c. loss of millions of jobs d. loss of medical insurance coverage e. loss of retirement plan f. loss of home g. loss of dignity h. wrecked economy sponsored by the RINO party under Reagan/Bush and Bush/Cheney i. all of the above and vote again for the same leadership that wrecked their lives.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

You left out the Libertarian party and the Green party.

Richard Heckler 3 years, 8 months ago

Introducing the RINO Plaftorm Written In Stone:

The RINO party has a long history of economic destruction and crime to include Iran-Contra and Watergate. Like or not a consistent and disturbing pattern has developed by their choosing.

STOP electing RINO’s ! My My father in law left the RINO party because he is a fiscal conservative republican with at least 50 years under his belt. Evermore stunning he is working with the democrat party in Pennsylvania.

After spending so so many decades in Washington D.C on tax dollar payrolls RINO’s are sure they learned all they needed to know about OUR money and founding reckless economies. RINO’s have much experience under their belts that they never quit sharing.

Introducing the RINO Plaftorm Written In Stone:

  1. TABOR is Coming by Grover Norquist and Koch Bros sells out state governments http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2005/0705rebne.html

  2. The Reagan/Bush Savings and Loan Heist(Cost taxpayers $1.4 trillion) http://rationalrevolution0.tripod.com/war/bush_family_and_the_s.htm

  3. Wall Street Bank Fraud on Consumers under Bush/Cheney sent the economy out the window costing taxpayers many many trillions. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2009/0709macewan.html

  4. 3 financial institutions were at risk so why $700 billion of bail out money? http://www.democracynow.org/2009/9/10/good_billions_after_bad_one_year

And that tax cuts do nothing to make an economy strong or produce jobs.

  1. Still A Bad Idea – Bush Tax Cuts - The ENTITLEMENT program for the wealthy at the expense of the middle class http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2001/0301miller.html

In the end big debt and super duper bailouts were the results which does not seem to bother Republicans, as long as they are in power.

In fact, by the time the second Bush left office, the national debt had grown to $12.1 trillion:

  • Over half of that amount had been created by Bush’s tax cuts for the very wealthy.

  • Another 30% of the national debt had been created by the tax cuts for the wealthy under Presidents Reagan and George H.W. Bush.

• Fully 81% of the national debt was created by just these three Republican Presidents. http://www.dollarsandsense.org/archives/2010/0111orr.html

Flap Doodle 3 years, 8 months ago

spammy, spammy. How many times have you spammed this board with this same post in the last week, merrill? Heck, how many times in the last 48 hours?

Flap Doodle 3 years, 8 months ago

There's an iPhone app that sends alerts whenever merrill repeats one of his boiler-plate rants. It's called iTwaddle.

Abdu Omar 3 years, 8 months ago

People do focus on one or two issues which makes up their mind in voting. Someone told me this: "I didn't vote for John Mc Cain because he is against a woman choosing what to do with her own body." "I didn't vote for Obama because he is for same-sex marriage."

Because of these two issues voters made up their mind. They didn't think about the million other issues, just these two. How sad.

Ron Holzwarth 3 years, 8 months ago

Here's a good one for you to think about:

It's been claimed by many that some women vote for the better looking candidate.

And maybe some men too, I'm not sure.

Corey Williams 3 years, 8 months ago

"Oh, and freedom of choice, this is the big one, the illusion of choice, we're led to feel free by the exercise of meaningless choices. There are, for instance, important things -- not too many choices, unimportant things-ice cream flavors, what do you want, we've got 31, the flavor of the week, the flavor of the month, but political parties-we're down to two, jeez. Sources of information, media companies down to five, banks, insurance companies, pharmaceuticals, chemical companies, oil companies-used to be seven, down to three, pretty soon it's gonna be two. But if you’re lookin' for a bagel or a f*ckin' donut, hey, what do you want-pineapple supreme, hazelnut; we've got everything you want. Cereals, I counted, personally in the store counted 192 different cereal choices, 192. 140 different cat foods, I counted, and that includes a tartar-control cat food for senior citizen cats, okay." - George Carlin, appearance on Dennis Miller Live

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

You're putting the cart before the horse. The things about which we have little choice are what need regulation.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

And you're trying to assign a cause where it doesn't exist. Corporations merge because that's one of the artifacts of capitalism-- wealth accumulates into ever fewer hands.

Jimo 3 years, 8 months ago

One searches your analysis for any sign that you believe there is any drawback to no regulation, let alone a more nuanced test to determine when and where costs outweigh benefits.

But it certainly is true that the regulated will attempt to turn the regulator to act in ways that benefit the regulated viz-a-viz everyone else including competitors.

Arguing that this means that no regulation (the non-existent "free market") is the best option is like arguing that the persistence of crime despite attempts to prevent and/or punish its commission is an argument for eliminating criminal law.

The "free market" is akin to "the state of nature" - a useful conceptual thought experiment that can--to a limited extent--help uncover what Catholics might call "natural law". But pretending that there is, was, or ever will or can be a "free market" is a dangerous error in judgment. Instead, we have merely market economies characterized by an array of choice outcomes for an infinite number of choice options measured on a scale ranging from maximalization of individual choice to maximalization of collective choice, and selected by the combination that provides the greatest utility to our economic society. Your flaw is to ignore (a) situations where the prerequisites for individual choice are absent or (b) situations where the combination of marginal choices for all individuals is objectively worse than the marginal choice for the collective.

tbaker 3 years, 8 months ago

Organized political parties should be out-lawed, but we only have ourselves to blame. Those of us who actually vote anyway. Once things finally get bad enough for Joe Sixpack (the people who don't currently vote) then we'll finally see some change. Americans don't do big change until things are very, very screwed up. Its hard to believe, but we're not there yet.

Peter Macfarlane 3 years, 8 months ago

Free Markets? We'll never have free markets as long as there are national interests to serve. A free-market system may have existed more than 200 years ago, but it is not attainable in today's world. All the industrialized nations have their national interests to protect even in the global economy.

Your point about regulation is well taken, but that is the fault of the political influence (aka money) not government regulation.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

Ah, the dream world. All we have to do is take power away from people and give it to other people, (like the Koch brothers) and we'll live in capitalist Shangri-La.

Jimo 3 years, 8 months ago

I doubt that the solution to excessive identification with political parties is to establish more political parties.

It's not a panacea but I would suggest something like Nebraska's nonpartisan system. In Nebraska, there's only one primary and every runs in it, with the top 2 candidates advancing to the general election. No party affiliation appears on the ballot. Similarly, legislative leadership posts are not made on a partisan basis and there is no partisan role in organizing the legislature. In practice, members align issue by issue in factions, which are often smaller and more cohesive than the broad 'Republican or Democratic" identification found elsewhere. (It helps that Nebraska is also a uniformly moderate to conservative place without a large divide in ideological views.)

tbaker 3 years, 8 months ago

And they are the only state with a one-house legislature - the unicameral. The old state senate chamber is just used for ceremonies.

usnsnp 3 years, 8 months ago

Let local governments handle most of the problems. What happens if Topeka would decide not to treat the sewage, sure would make for good drinking water down stream. There are approximately 14,000 school districts, let each one decide what they should teach their childrem, that would make for a well educated population. Why do you think that many of these regulations have come about, local governments could not handle the problems.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"I love it when people post these kinds of questions as if they are monumental problems"

You're right-- it's not a problem, because Topeka treats its sewage, even though we haven't replaced the current system with your dream of government by endless lawsuit.

just_another_bozo_on_this_bus 3 years, 8 months ago

"Why re-invent the wheel?"

But what you suggest in nearly every post is to smash the wheel we have, and replace it with one you and your randian cohorts have conjured up-- a wheel likely octagonal in shape, as far as we can tell.

George Lippencott 3 years, 8 months ago

Certainly not here in Lawrence. I bet Uncle Sam would consider me a progressive

George Lippencott 3 years, 8 months ago

Ok

The Dems are right of center and the Repubs are way right of center. Just exactly what in your definition is the center? Apparently you have an absolute definition I wish you would share because otherwise the center is the center - about half on each side.

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