Have you ever felt like our politicians in Sacramento and Washington, D.C. are never getting anything done? It’s gridlock baby and it’s our own fault.
There is a deep-seated human need to identify with a group and see other groups as the enemy. We haven’t evolved much from the Stone Age. It's one of the reasons sports are so popular—I have my team to cheer for and everybody else is the opposition to be defeated.
The duopoly that we call our political system today with the Democrats and Republicans fits cleanly into this deep psychological need that we have. Sadly, it has devolved into something akin to sport or even warfare. And the Internet, with the anonymity of attacks, has sharpened the edge of the divide.
Every one of you shaking your head that it is only the other side that acts that way needs to bring your head back into the delightfully warm sunlight (while dodging the chemtrails) and realize that your side—whatever it may be—engages in this counterproductive behavior too.
Not that political parties, in and of themselves, are necessarily bad. They do serve a purpose for a group of people with shared interests pooling together to win offices and direct public policy. Even more importantly, it is essential to the health of a representative democracy that they represent different views on the role of government. But we have achieved a state of paralysis where one side refuses to acknowledge even the legitimacy of the other's position so that there is no sitting down and negotiating. How does that serve our state and country when a Democrat and Republican won’t even talk to each other to negotiate a compromise?
How about a third or fourth party to challenge the hegemony of the Dems and Repubs? Ross Perot sure gave it a go in 1992 and then he went all crazy-paranoid, blowing his chance. The Republican establishment even blames good ol’ Ross for handing the election to Bill Clinton; the same Bill Clinton, despite his personal indiscretions, blossomed into a very strong president. As a matter of fact, this last election season he still was the best orator of them all.
What about the Greens, Libertarians, Justice, Constitution party, and others? We don’t get to hear much from them. There is a grassroots group called Free & Equal (freeandequal.org) that is a “nonprofit formed to ensure a fair and open electoral process for all. It is our belief that a true democracy fosters a climate where all voices are heard regardless of political party or persuasion.” They actually had presidential debates last fall that included these other parties so we could hear their voices and positions. Imagine that, people other than Democrats and Republicans!
And now out of Washington we even have a group of Democrats and Republicans coming together to find common ground and help break the gridlock. Launched only in December 2010, No Labels (nolabels.org) is a new kid on the block pulling together hundreds of thousands of citizens to sign-up and pressure their elected representatives to implement common-sense reforms, find common ground for moving forward, and actually make government work.
In the interest of moving post-partisanship forward, according to co-founder Jonathan Miller, a.k.a. The Recovering Politician (therecoveringpolitician.com) this grassroots movement is starting to make a difference. Their initiative called “No Budget, No Pay” actually passed the House of Representatives and looks likely to pass the Senate as well. The five key driving principles that No Labels asks of politicians are logically: 1) Tell the full truth, 2) Govern for the future, 3) Put the country first, 4) Be responsible, and 5) Work together.
It is a sad indictment of our current state of politics when five principles that seem so basic, so necessary for the function of government, and so inline with the oaths of office that it takes an outside group to articulate them for all to see.
I say to you today, don’t let the scare tactics get to you. Refuse to listen to someone who tells you that when you don’t vote Democrat or Republican it is a wasted vote. There is no such thing as a wasted vote.
The time for post-partisan action is now. Rise up and let your voice be heard.
Santa Cruz-based, nationally syndicated talk show host Ethan Bearman can be heard locally on his show “The Ethan Bearman Show” from 4-6 p.m. Sundays on KOMY (1340 AM) and 6-8 p.m. on KSCO (1080AM) discussing this topic and other current events. Learn more at ethanbearman.com.