Thursday, September 20, 2007

9-20-07: Two Party System

Did you ever wonder why we have a two party system? A common reason given by people I’ve spoken with is “Well, we’ve always had one.” Not true. We’ve usually had two strong parties, but in American history, we’ve had: Federalists, Democratic-Republicans, Whigs, National Unionists, Republicans, and Democrats… as Presidents. Never mind the countless other parties that have had candidates run in the past. Right now we also have the Libertarians, the Green Party, and the Constitution Party. But why do we have just two parties represented? It’s a bit odd.

More important than the curious existence of our two party system is how it works. Have you ever heard on the news that Democrats had to be swayed to prevent a filibuster? Or that “the Republicans have enough votes to prevent the bill from passing”? Of course you have, it happens all the time. People take it for granted, and hardly notice it because it is so common. It’s all part of the game, I guess. But it’s never part of any one’s election campaign, is it? You vote for somebody because of their values, their character, and their record. When is the last time any one took a politician seriously just because they don’t support anything the other party does?

A year ago, we had an election in Connecticut that was nationally covered for its “epic” battle of Joe Lieberman against… Ned Lamont. The ellipses aren’t there for just effect. I had to look up Lamont’s name. I bet more people than just me forgot his name. Why? Because there was nothing to him outside of his “I’m not Joe Lieberman. I don’t support Bush.” I thought Lieberman’s reelection was nothing short of outstandingly refreshing. People went against Lieberman for his “party line crossing” ways and called him a “Bush ally.” They actually wanted Lamont in office JUST BECAUSE he said he wouldn’t work with Republicans. Can you believe that? Some one who deliberately states his absolute stubbornness gains support simply because of that. Unreal. It’s like a bad dream.

Thankfully, there were people out there who had a better sense of things. I listen to the Chaz and A.J. morning radio show on 99.1 WPLR, and they made a point in the weeks leading up to the election how ridiculous it was to go against Lieberman just because. They even had Lieberman on the show, and told him he was being blasted for something he should be praised for. Not because he worked with Republicans and Chaz and A.J. were Republicans (I don’t even think they are!), but because he knew that he needed to work with Republicans to get things done. Personally, I like Lieberman. I think he’s done a wonderful job for my state, and the couple of times I’ve tried to reach him, he’s responded to me. The same can’t be said for Christopher Dodd, but he’s running for President, so he obviously can’t waste his time doing his actual job. Lieberman should be an example for politicians. Their allegiance shouldn’t be strictly with their party. It’s foremost to their constituency, who aren’t all in their party.

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