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Two-Party Politics and Economic Stewardship

December 7, 2005

Does the two-party political system in the U.S. really work? The more I listen to pundits on both sides, the more strongly I feel that the parties are more interested in what’s good for the party than what’s good for America or the American people. Bleh.

In fact, the two-party system seems more and more like an illusion designed to give the people the impression that we have the power to change things every four years or so.

Are there viable alternatives? Nader’s “green” party seems like a failed experiment. I can’t do Libertarianism – it requires too much faith in our citizens’ ability to govern themselves, when most folks can’t even balance their own checkbooks or govern their own families. The trends toward daytime talk shows and reality TV, as well as evidence from Katrina et. al. show us that humanity is really about one circumstance from The Lord of the Flies. I don’t know about the Constitution party – I’ve only heard of them recently. The statement from their website (“We also oppose special rights for homosexuals…”) gives me the creeps: homosexuals aren’t asking for special rights, they’re asking for equal rights. And just why is sexual orientation one of the first things mentioned by a political party in the first place?

Having said all that, I just can’t abide the absolutely rampant deficit spending advocated by the Republicans. It just isn’t good stewardship. Yeah, I know that some economists claim it stimulates the economy. Truth is, it’s the great American lie. We have to pay that money back with ridiculous interest. It’s putting all of our programs on a credit card. Credit cards have never stimulated my personal economy – mostly they’ve given me a shovel with which I can dig myself a financial hole that takes far more work to repair. Deficit spending seems to me to be really poor stewardship of the nation’s economy.

And far too often, when funding is cut from state and fed funded agencies the jobs that are lost are those folks at the bottom who are doing the bulk of the work and in many cases generating revenue. Having worked as a counselor in the community mental health system I can say from experience that it is always the counselors who get downsized (again, those who generate revenue), not managers or administrators (who mostly absorb revenue because they do not do the work that generates it). So to simply cut funding is a too-simplistic solution to a complex problem.

I wish someone had solutions.

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4 Comments leave one →
  1. John permalink
    December 8, 2005 10:02 am

    I have the same impression about the Constitution Party. It’s more of a sense that a definate perception that the aren’t truly in favor of limited government — they just support it as long as they are out of power.

    As for the party situation in America, or politics in general, I blame us. We get the government that we elect.

  2. Willie permalink
    December 13, 2005 12:35 am

    Man, we musta deserved some real punishment in recent years then!

  3. Michael permalink
    December 13, 2005 3:58 pm

    I hear what you’re saying, but I will also add that the Democrats seem intent on demanding that we should all give up more out of our own pockets for the good of the government, that it is more important that the government balances its books than for folks to keep more of what they earn.

    I guess I lean toward Libertarianism though, like you, I realize that some probably need to be saved from themselves. Specifically, the compounding interest on revolving accounts should be outlawed. It is just this side of mob “loan sharking” yet somehow legal.

    John said it well, though: we have no one to blame but ourselves.

  4. Kansas Bob permalink
    December 17, 2005 10:59 am

    You know, on a political scale, my heart moans over how very few of us ever move to the middle … I’d love to see a moderate or centrist party morph from the 2 parties … I know I’m dreaming. What would it be like to have a party that endorsed:

    + Tangible commitments to the working poor,
    + Moderate trade agreements that helped US labor,
    + Sensible restrictions on abortions (i.e. 3rd trimester viability),
    + Gun control that excluded hunting rifles (i.e.shotguns),
    + Middle ground health care coverage for everyone,
    + Some limits on liability for health careprofessionals.

    Not a complete list but you get the idea. I think that the problem with this approach is that few people want to let go of the ideology and rhetoric. On one end you have the Rush Limbaughs and on the other end the Kate Michelsons … both full of rhetoric and afraid to give an inch on anything. The influence that special interest groups have on our leaders tend to polarize not unite. It would good for politicians to divorce themselves from special interest oriented organizations and find common ground through mutual respect and earnest dialogue.

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