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Where Stupid & Evil Join Ranks: America's Two-Party System
According to the story, Samuel T. Francis was trying to explain to a foreigner the American political party system. He told him,
We have two parties here, and only two. One is the evil party, and the other is the stupid party. I’m very proud to be a member of the stupid party. Occasionally, the two parties get together to do something that’s both evil and stupid. That’s called bipartisanship.
The Stupid Party and the Evil Party. You know them affectionately as Tweedledum and Tweedledee. Often we are so disappointed with them, we're tempted to go elsewhere and find greener pastures in another political party.
Believe me, I understand. Conservatives are rightly disappointed with the Stupid Party and its inability to find one candidate they can get behind. You feel that you should perhaps abandon the Stupid Party and go with a third party.
“Anything’s possible,” you say, “a third-party could win.” That’s right…anything’s possible. McDonalds might produce the zero-fat burger, the Oprah Book Club might reprint an unabridged version of War and Peace and Kirk, Spock and the fellas might travel back from the future, beam up two humpback whales and take them back (back??) to the twenty-third century in order to save humanity.
You say, “Well, what about the Republicans? They were a third party once and they beat the Whigs”? Yes, but just how much political moxie does it take to beat a party called the “Whigs”? And, think about it, from the Whig defeat we got the Republicans, a Civil War with 700,000 dead, along with one more Ken Burns special for PBS, as if we needed another one.
You say, “But I have never been a part of the two parties before; I really don’t know which side I would pick.” Well, it's simple really: imagine you're in the Capitol, and right there in Statuary Hall there’s a boxing ring set up. In one corner stands Stupid Party candidate Newt Gingrich and in the other corner Evil Party Senator Harry Reid. The bell just rang. The "Capitol Boxing Match" has just started. Now here is the key question:
In your heart of hearts, who do you want to win?
Now, if you can answer that question, then go with that party. However, if that juicy question doesn’t tempt you, try question number two:
Whose face do you want to plow the canvas first?
Whoever that is, pick the other side and go with them.
Now, if you didn't select either one, it’s obvious that you don't watch enough C-SPAN. So my homespun remedy is that you watch six hours of the Stupid Party complaining about the liberal media to be followed by six hours of the Evil Party conferencing on how they can take away Bibles from primary school girls and then try those questions again.
For the guys on the right, if the idea of a liberal media resonates with you, you should be with the Stupid Party. As for the Socialist, Greens, and Communists, that want to see the last elementary Bible-thumper hauled off to the principal’s office, you belong in the Evil Party, so that guys like Harry Reid and Pete Stark can look like moderates for a change.
Elections are about backing a winner of your liking and should not merely be exercises in self-expression. But, if voting is some sort of existential trip for you, then knock yourself out. But, if you think that politics is about stocking government offices with good, competent people, then that is done in the two-party system. Our plurality method of voting bends us toward a two-party system, if Maurice Duverger is right. And you should listen to Maurice because he’s the last Frenchman since Montesquieu that was right about anything political.
You say, “Well how about the Reform Party”? OK. Did they give us something akin to a statesman like George Washington or something more like Gorgeous George? We got the latter and with Jesse Ventura we didn’t even get the “Gorgeous” part. Then he turned around and aped Ted Turner by calling Christians a pack of losers. And if there's anything Jesse knows a lot about, it's aping. So, instead of a statesman, we get a guy whose vaunted self-importance warrants its own a zip code.
Perhaps you’re still unconvinced; perhaps you still think that the third-party guys can lead the nation. If so, then I invite you to consider and reflect on ancient Chinese proverb:
He that thinketh he leadeth and nobody followeth is out taking long walk.
© 2011 William R Bowen Jr