It's Time for a 3rd Political Party
One would think that with the Republican Party in control of both Houses of Congress and the Presidency, we would be seeing all kinds of legislation being passed and problems solved. However, failure is assured as we have the second pitiful Speaker of the House in a row. Paul Ryan is probably even weaker than John Boehner when it comes to getting consensus within his own party. It seems that Rep. Mark Meadows of the Freedom Caucus is the defacto Speaker of the House. Nothing seems to happen unless he says so.
This fact, coupled with this extreme right concept of the needing the support of "the majority of the majority" before a bill moves, has suffocated the House. Where did Dennis Hastert come up with this and and where in the Constitution is this maneuver authorized? Clearly, this caucus is so uncompromising, they would turn back the clock - or at least keep things static rather than compromise on anything. Meanwhile the rest of the world is moving forward.
Sadly for our nation, this hard line has excluded the other half of us from being included in the decision-making process. While elections do have consequences, one party rule can't be what the founders envisioned for our great nation. President Trump, Speaker Ryan, and Leader McConnell seem to have forgotten this.
On the Democratic side, we have a lifeless party which actually considered "A Better Deal" as their rallying cry. That was since excluded and morphed into "Fighting Trump" and "Standing Up to Trump" as campaign slogans. Every Democrat running for national office here in New Mexico made sure to include those words in their ads. As mentioned in the previous criticisms of the Democratic Party, there is no vision for the future, just vague nonsense. Opposing Trump is one thing, but what is their "Grand Plan"? The problems facing our nation will effect us all no matter what your politics. Working together to get the best possible answers is of national importance.
On a personal note, about a year ago, I had written to Tom Udall's website to express my concerns with the direction of the party. While I got no response to my letter, I did receive an invitation to a town hall to be held in Albuquerque. Upon our arrival, we learned that people had already been selected to ask the senator questions. From the start, it became clear that no hard policy issues would be discussed. The senator arrived on stage to a thunderous standing ovation. So what we really had was a campaign rally disguised as a town hall meeting and just a show. It was so disheartening that my wife and I left after about 90 minutes.
Do the Job
We are at a point in our nation that we must start paying attention to what our government is doing no matter how difficult it may be. It is also essential that we begin to hold government accountable at every level for its performance.
Here are some suggested expectations:
1) Actually write a fully fleshed-out bill that solves, or attempts to address an issue - any issue. No "poison pill" amendments.
2) Post the legislation online with an explanation in layman's terms of what the bill does and does not do. Announce the posting everywhere possible.
3) Allow for amendments and debate so everyone has input.
4) Have the legislation drawn up by bi-partisan committees to work out as much as possible in advance.
5) Use the media to keep pressure on congressional leadership to bring bills to a vote and put representatives and senators on record.
Disallow majority of the majority in writing. Each caucus can weigh in with amendments during debate, but no more blocking votes. Each party must have a say on legislation no matter which party is in the majority. We are all entitled to representation in the truest sense.
Senator Jeff Flake
Senator Jeff Flake wrote an outstanding book entitled "Conscience of a Conservative: A Rejection of Destructive Principles and a Return to Principle". In it he describes government as it could be and indeed once was. Of course, it has never run perfectly, but it has deteriorated in the last 20 years. Senator Flake writes eloquently of civility, honor, compromise and country first to work together in partnership to arrive at the best overall resolutions to our problems. Bi-partisanship and an actual intellectual battle of ideas would hopefully resurface to replace pettiness and squabbling.
A New Party
If the two major parties are unable to return to actual representative government and continue on the path towards one party rule something must be done. It is only a matter of time before the majorities are reversed and the pendulum swings left. This will bring a whole new set of policy reversals. Here in New Mexico petitions are being signed to form a new party. With any luck something can be organized by the 2020 elections.
We can only imagine what impact a new party could have on the future - perhaps candidates that better represent independents and moderates or maybe candidates who could inspire some of the 45% of eligible voters who aren't participating. Over time the hard left or right will lose their power. Younger voters will want common sense solutions.
By electing even 15% of Congress to a different party, we could send a message to all elected officials that the time for foolishness is past and we want serious ideas and a new vision for the future. We are in dire need of term limits and an end to gerrymandering. This will take a great deal of work by many serious-minded people. This is not just a dream and would change the course of our country.