For better or worse, nowhere in the constitution does it mention political parties. By looking into the writings of the founders, it seems apparent they never would have thought that our current party system would exist in the form it does today, and would have almost certainly seen it as detrimental to the republic if they could. Quite honestly, the founders would likely be shocked and appalled by the state of many of the union’s institutions as they exist today. One might say, destination screwed…
John Adams wrote in a letter to Jonathon Jackson, October 2nd, 1780. – “There is nothing which I dread so much as a division of the republic into two great parties, each arranged under its leader, and concerting measures in opposition to each other. This, in my humble apprehension, is to be dreaded as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.”
The Origin and development of our two major party system
As much as Donald Trump has spoken about “draining the swamp”, much of this rhetoric is undermined by the lack of talk about electoral reform. Credit where credit is due, he has diminished record-setting numbers of government regulations that burden our economy, and the overall number of bureaucrats retiring outnumbers those joining the force. However, among the many reasons Donald Trump was elected (no, not Russia, racism, or ignorance), was that he was an outsider who presented an opportunity to “Shock the system” and shake things up.
People all across our country from progressives to libertarians and everyone in between have felt abandoned by our political establishment. Politicians make big promises to the people on the stage, then retreat to their dens where they call up massive corporate lobbies to fund them in exchange for political favors. We all know it. Obama and Romney’s top campaign contributors were literally the same 10 corporate interests. The whole point of a democracy is to grant the blessing of public confidence in our government and assure that the government exists with the consent of the people.
So the 2 party system…how did we get here?
Over the course of our country’s history, there have been quite a number of political parties, although most never gain any traction and most have been extremely short-lived. Today the 3 most notable minor parties are the green party, the libertarian party, and the constitution party. The Libertarian Party is the oldest, and as of 2019 libertarians held office in 176 minor positions in government.
However, since 1852, we’ve elected without exception either a republican or democrat to the presidential office. Before that, it was either a democrat or a whig, before that we had a democrat party or the national republican party, before that the democratic-republicans vs the federalists. George Washington is the only president to be elected without a party affiliation.
The party system is seemingly an inevitable part of America’s political design. Groups with like-minded agendas will always congregate, and some arbitrary name will be given to represent the said group, so at some point, political platforms are inevitable in any large scale democratic process. But without some form of ranked voting, the very nature of democratic electoral processes manifest themselves eventually into two opposing political parties, which can be characterized by opposite world views, described by Thomas Sowell as the constrained and unconstrained vision. Jonathon Haidt has actually done some very interesting work into the psychology of moral foundations and how that corresponds with political alignment. He calls it, “Moral Foundations theory.” Essentially he tried to pinpoint a list of moral categories that can be consistently distinguished from each other through multi-variable analysis. He ended up, eventually, with six moral foundational categories.
“1) Care/harm: This foundation is related to our long evolution as mammals with attachment systems and an ability to feel (and dislike) the pain of others. It underlies virtues of kindness, gentleness, and nurturance.
2) Fairness/cheating: This foundation is related to the evolutionary process of reciprocal altruism. It generates ideas of justice, rights, and autonomy. In the original conception, Fairness included concerns about equality, which are more strongly endorsed by political liberals. However, as the theory was reformulated in 2011 based on new data, it emphasizes proportionality, which is endorsed by everyone, but is more strongly endorsed by conservatives
3) Loyalty/betrayal: This foundation is related to our long history as tribal creatures able to form shifting coalitions. It underlies virtues of patriotism and self-sacrifice for the group. It is active anytime people feel that it’s “one for all, and all for one.”
4) Authority/subversion: This foundation was shaped by our long primate history of hierarchical social interactions. It underlies virtues of leadership and followership, including deference to legitimate authority and respect for traditions.
5) Sanctity/degradation: This foundation was shaped by the psychology of disgust and contamination. It underlies religious notions of striving to live in an elevated, less carnal, more noble way. It underlies the widespread idea that the body is a temple which can be desecrated by immoral activities and contaminants (an idea not unique to religious traditions).
We think there are several other very good candidates for “foundationhood,” especially:
6) Liberty/oppression: This foundation is about the feelings of reactance and resentment people feel toward those who dominate them and restrict their liberty. Its intuitions are often in tension with those of the authority foundation. The hatred of bullies and dominators motivates people to come together, in solidarity, to oppose or take down the oppressor.
Essentially he found that Political liberals drastically emphasize the Care/harm foundation, with additional support from the Fairness/cheating and Liberty/oppression foundations, and actually shirk the other foundations like loyalty to in-group, respect for tradition, and purity. Conservatives, especially religious conservatives, use all six foundations, including Loyalty/betrayal, Authority/subversion, and Sanctity/degradation. ”
But this tendency of multi-party system’s to inevitably devolve into a duopoly is called Duverger’s Law. It basically claims that as one party gains an advantage, lesser parties will naturally diminish and converge as people will cast their vote for the “Lesser of two evils” which reinforces the cycle of diminishment of lesser parties until only two are left. And the media go along with it. After all, the first major newspapers were created as the communication branches of the first political parties.
The founders were correct to dread the nature of political parties, and the prospect of two great opposition parties dominating our electoral process. Any two-party system will devolve into the ugly politics we see today, as the acquisition of power becomes more and more dependent on demagoguery and opposition tactics. And it’s that divisiveness in our society that is the most vulnerable aspect of our national security. After all, a divided house can’t stand.
As it stands today, almost no topic in the political discourse receives as much bipartisan disdain as our essentially two-party system and the social and political ramifications thereof. There feels like an almost unbridgable divide in our political discourse as if the very social fabric of the country has been coming apart. And it is almost certain that whoever wins the presidential election will not have the large, bi-partisan confidence of the people, but will nevertheless enjoy the full approval of our financial elite.
This feeling is intensified drastically with exposure to our mainstream news media or social media environments. The truth is, our social fabric IS being actively eaten away by the polarizing nature of duopoly political systems. And a consortium of private banks and corporate interests have asserted massive influence over our politicians, mainstream media, and even the electoral process itself, and lobbies extensively to keep any third party candidate from having any chance of emergence.
There are laws in place, in which the government matches the money raised by political candidates once they’ve broken a certain threshold of the organically raised fund. This threshold is set at a level that is almost exclusively available to candidates of one of the major two parties. In so many ways, our current party system is irredeemably undemocratic and bent towards demagoguery and opposition campaigns, and our media entities exist as mere extensions of this tragedy.
This system has manufactured tremendous division amongst the general population, there are very opposing philosophical beliefs held by conservatives and liberals. But the differences in our elected major party politicians are mostly aesthetic. Of course, the parties battle it out for control of the 3 branches of government, the opposition party doing everything it can to disrupt, create gridlock, and even just embarrass the members of the other party. But behind the scenes, both parties take massive amounts of lobbyist money from the military-industrial complex, big oil, big pharma, big tech, even foreign governments, and a consortium of other wealthy entities.
This is seemingly far more money than any grass-roots fundraising campaign can compete with. Both sides will cater to their lobbyists, both are united in keeping the patriot act in place, and both will fill their cabinets with candidates suggested to them by the banks. Worst of all, both parties, and any significant political actor within them are manipulated by a cabal of central banking interests who will give unlimited resources to their preferred candidate, pay off the heads of the national party to block a popular candidate from nomination to disrupt a campaign. Manufacture a recession, finance civil unrest, or fund foreign military aggression to stop a sitting president, or outright assassinate any political entity which poses a substantial threat to the debt-money system that makes it quite literally impossible to ever escape their financial domination.
Our country is in the midst of an identity crisis, a zenith in the conflict of visions. It is a largely ignored crisis greater than any of the problems that the opposing political parties rightly point out. It’s more destabilizing than the growing levels of wealth inequality, more unsustainable than our mass unregulated immigration. As destined for failure as our fraudulent reserve notes. Those money printers continue to be pushed to the brink of their capacity, by both parties.
So what the hell can we do? It’s time to propose some alternatives.
Ranked Choice Voting
Two-party systems are necessarily winner-take-all. As in, whoever gets the most votes wins. This may seem reasonable prima facie, but let’s dig in a little. When considering primaries, a presidential candidate may win only 29% of the popular vote. That means that 71% of the population isn’t getting what they want. Thinking that ‘winner takes all’ voting is democratic in a numerical sense is a convenient illusion.
This leaves smaller parties with no chance. Ever been chastised for throwing your vote into the ‘trash can’ of votes? Ever heard people opine about how you’ve got to choose the lesser of two evils as if still voting for someone evil was as fine and dandy as mom’s apple pie? And how many times have you said something along the lines of ‘man I really don’t like the guy I’m voting for but the other one just sucks a whole bag of things I’d rather not apply my own lips to’?
Ranked choice throws all these obnoxious and karen-esque arguments out the window. You can finally express your fealty to the anti-HOA party without worrying that you’d be better off using your ballot as TP. Ranked choice would allow you to pick the anti-HOA party as your first choice, the Green party as your second, the conservative as your third, and whatever virtue-signalling corporate cutout is representing the liberals as your last choice.
I’m sure this would prove how tired many Americans are of our corporate duopoly. No longer beholden by shame, voters could push for the candidates they actually wanted and know that whoever wins in the end will have to have achieved more than 50% of the vote. The parties with the fewest votes along the ranking system would be cast out from the ballot, in which case the next choice on everyone’s ballots would go toward determining the majority. This way, we’d make sure that the candidate who won would actually have managed to win the popular vote in their community.
20 cities and 4 states have already gotten on board with ranked-choice when it comes to primaries. However, one state (Maine) is looking to take it a step further and use ranked-choice voting for the whole of their general election.
Countries that already use ranked-choice include:
Ireland, Scotland, New Zealand, and Australia.
This system will also greatly reduce negative campaigning because they have to appeal to people who aren’t just in their base. With ranked-choice, you’ve got to make yourself and your policies actually look good (and hell, you’ll have to actually have policy-solutions lined up – what a concept!) to win the primary votes of as many people as possible, and the secondary votes of all of those who prefer your political competition. Maybe you’ll be able to trash on the other guys a little bit, but not in the fantastic style of our current political races.
Ranked-choice voting will also put an end to gerrymandering, which is just another way to say politcal red-lining.
Two of America’s favorite words, side by side.
Not only does the rhetoric give us that warm and fuzzy ‘merica f*** yeah feeling, but the idea of ‘democracy dollars’ stands up to the ‘Citizen’s United’ law and seeks to make political campaigns more about people and less about corporate money.
Democracy Dollars were proposed as a solution to campaign funding issues by Andrew Yang, who ran in the Democratic primaries. He was predictably ousted from prime-time and received far less attention than the other candidates, likely because Yang was less an establishment democrat then an ideologue and reformist.
Democracy dollars would work like this: every American gets 100 ‘dollars’ in the form of a voucher, which could possibly be tax deductible. This would be a “use it or lose it” voucher, you could store them up fpr years and donate a larger amount later, nor could you redeem it for any other purpose. (Although I’m not ignorant enough to believe that some clever entities wouldn’t find a way to low-key pay-off people to spend their Democracy dollars in a particular way. I’m sure some of that would exist, but that susceptibility seems less corrupted than our current system, in my opinion. And in the opinion of 7 out of 10 Americans who feel as if our politicians are being controlled by shadowy outside wealthy forces. Which they are!
People could spend these “democracy dollars” on the campaign or campaigns of any politicians they chose. This way, the politicians whom people wanted to run would get the most funding. This would essentially serve as the reverse of our current system, where we make political decisions after being bombarded with ads and propaganda.
As it is today, less than 5% of the population donates to political campaigns. How many would contribute if it didn’t come “out of pocket?” Certainly not 100%, Americans are lazy. But if even 20% were to utilize this policy, we would completely wash out the current levels of lobbyist money. If 50% did, we would outspend lobbyists 4 to 1. And if one thing is true about Washington, it’s that money talks.
Of course, this would demand that people go out of their way to do political research. And it’s not unthinkable that lobbyists would just drum up campaigns that said ‘don’t throw your precious democracy dollars into the the third party trash can’, and electioneering would get all weirdly meta. But a multi-party, ranked choice voting system, could counter that relatively effectively.
What if we, the lazy electorate, decided to dive head-first into civic duty by giving ourselves the chance to write laws? What if we weren’t always beholden to our ‘representatives’, but to ourselves directly?
Though many may nominate ‘direct democracy’ as mob rule (rightly, in some cases) it stands that some countries with this sytem of governance are doing very well. Let’s examine them in some more detail.
Switzerland, known for it’s alps and yodeling beauties, has a system of direct democracy. They know a thing or two about the stratification of political parties – in fact, one of these came to prominence with the moniker ‘anti-powerpoint party’ because of their believe that this software was wreaking havoc on the economy.
To amend the constitution, Switzerland (which holds popular votes 4 times per year) must hold a ‘mandatory’ referendum and eke out a double majority, with its ‘cantons’ (there are seven in total and they rotate the title of ‘president’ yearly) and people both voting in a majority. Switzerland seems to be one of the few countries with an IQ high enough to distrust its elected officials to fulfill their promises.
Branching off from this infinite wisdom, the Swiss are also skeptical of elected officials writing and proposing new initiatives. They therefore allow any Swiss citizen to draft an initiative, and if they can find 6 others to onboard it then they can start collecting signatures. Once 100,000 signatures have been gathered the proposal will go in front of the country, needing the aforementioned double-majority to become law.
Make no mistake; people propose all kinds of wonky initiatives. I met a Swiss guy in China who told me his neighbor’s mission in life was to keep farmers from cutting off the horns of their bulls – and his initiative was well on its way to 100,000 signatures. My friend voted in favor of it.
Strangely, though, less than half of the eligible voting population ever turns out to vote. The paradox of direct democracy, as measured by a few countries that operate with some form of it, is that fewer voters turn out when they believe everyone has a voice. Goes to show that people trust their fellow man far more than they trust politicians.
But what about other direct democracies (in Europe)?
Look no further than little Liechtenstein, a mountain kingdom of fewer than 50,000 inhabitants. It’s got the world’s highest purchasing power parity and their per-capita income is more than double the United States’ – a whopping $139,000 USD. Liechtenstein also boasts Europe’s wealthiest monarch, an ironic twist for a nation that runs on direct democracy. The real kicker is that the prince didn’t inherit this wealth but rather accrued it through business.
Did I mention that this country is also highly capitalist and rated as one of Europe’s best nations to do business in? That’s right – the free market and true democratic freedom prop one another up in little Liechtenstein.
Let’s take one of the West’s most contentious issues at the moment – citizenship rights. Liechtenstein has shirked the burden of laws and committees that decide who can and can’t immigrant – instead, immigrants live in the community for a certain amount of time before their neighbors vote on whether or not they can become citizens.
Better be on your best behavior if you want to become a citizen, then. Liechtenstein proves that it’s the people of a country who ought to decide which new people get to stay and vote. After all, any new citizen will be allowed to participate in direct democracy alongside their neighbors.
Written by: Liberty Revolt