If you are discouraged by the apparent choices in the general election this November — Donald Trump versus an equally unappealing Joe Biden, Senator Necktie versus some vitriolic challenger who can’t find Peru or Poland on a map, or if a House of Representatives (not to mention a state legislature) full of posturing lawyers horrifies you — then look to yourself as the reason for your dismay.
I did, and I accepted the blame.
Most voters are still registered as Democrats or Republicans. Most don’t realize that a political party is a private club, not an arm of government. Anyone can start a new party. Even the two big ones need members like you in order to survive.
Most people don’t realize that each house of Congress follows rules that it has constructed for itself, designed to inflate the power of the temporarily-dominant party and magnify the influence of someone from a district other than your own. (I recently sent a note to my congressman reminding him that the Speaker of the House is his equal in that body, not his boss. The Speaker is his boss only within the private club that is their party, I wrote. It was a waste of words, but I felt better after mailing it to him.)
As a voter, it is you who must take charge of the miserable choices you have in an election. Term limits is an excellent idea, but forget it. It will never be made law in any legislative body to which it would apply.
You have a couple of choices and, some think, only a short period in which to take charge; a short time remaining before this country is irredeemably demolished.
Here are your choices:
Become seriously active in the private club that counts you as a member. Enlist others and overwhelm your state’s convention. Insist that term limits start there. It’s comforting, within the party, to make sure that every good old incumbent senator and representative gets re-nominated term after term. After all, incumbents are virtual shoo-ins for re-election. It’s up to the party members to assure that they don’t become permanent fixtures in a stagnant Congress.
Make the effort to overwhelm the entrenched powers in your state party if you believe that your party is worth sustaining and if you have faith that it deserves your effort. Unless you become an activist within the party that you support and unless you work with others to take charge of the party’s rules that always favor the good-old-boys system, things will not change. You will have the same disgusting choices in every election.
I, for one, cannot vote for the challenger in an election just for the sake of opposing the incumbent. If the challenger’s party promotes policies that I deem abhorrent, then I find myself voting to re-elect the one who should have been replaced in the party’s own convention after two or three terms. I, just as you, am stuck with the lesser of two evils.
Don’t have the time or the energy to work within the party? Remove yourself from the party’s membership rolls instead. This is what I did. Widespread disengagement would be devastating to a party, (although not as effective as loss of its revenue streams, of which I was not one). Become either unenrolled or enroll yourself in a third party.
I did this a few years ago. I left one of the dominant parties and enrolled as a Libertarian. Within a year, the state legislature de-certified the Libertarian Party since, apparently, it was becoming a threat to the Democrats and Republicans, and they paused for some bipartisan cooperation to squelch it.
The Libertarian Party, suppressed for now by the dominant parties, still exists in this state, sacrificing its resources in desperate court proceedings to challenge the legislature’s action.
Where that leaves us:
If you take your name off a party’s rolls, that doesn’t make you an “independent.” That term belongs to those candidates who, like Senators Angus King of Maine and Bernie Sanders of Vermont, are wealthy enough to be independent of party support in order to become elected. They do not evince independent thinking, though; their politics are consistently aligned with the party each would have joined if he needed money. As a voter with no party affiliation you are merely unenrolled.
Those are your options, apart from remaining a silent member — a silent number — in one of the two decrepit, undeserving dominant parties. Those are your options, that is, unless you are committed to becoming violent and contributing to the anarchy that would destroy the country without a care for what might arise in the ensuing vacuum.
Undermining the dominant parties for the purpose either of reforming or replacing them is a process. Wrenching power from those who will not relinquish it gracefully, and restoring a citizen legislature, takes finesse, not fire. It needs many voices and many hands. I am only one. I could be more effective, I suppose, as a destructive rioter. But I want a say in the outcome. I can be more helpful as a peaceful activist. (This message is a part of my activism.)
The two dominant parties are controlled by abstruse forces that confidently decide whose names you will see on the ballot. Their objective is not to present competent candidates for election but to assure that party loyalists are rewarded with nominations. That’s why we had the Bush dynasty and nearly had the Clinton dynasty. That’s why what seem like the worst possible candidates rise to the top. That’s why the Republicans almost had (I shudder to think it) Mitt Romney on the ballot in 2016, until the party controllers’ choice was steamrolled by Donald Trump. That’s why, to oppose Trump, the Democrats have a candidate who needs to be propped up like wax museum mannequin, but at least, unlike Trump, he can be manipulated by the puppeteers within the Party.
I am convinced that we, who have the power to do it, need to abolish the two big parties, and doing so is as easy as exercising our influence under Option 1 or Option 2. We have no other peaceful way to relieve the them of their stranglehold on our elections. Unenrolling en masse and depriving them of members — compliant peons — is the one productive way I can think of to do it.