Whenever I write about the disintegration of American society, I receive emails reading something like this: "You tell us what’s broken but you don’t tell us how to fix it." I’m guilty as charged. The diagnosis is easier than the cure. Also, the cure may involve actions that many would prefer to avoid. Those willing to undertake it will have to make alterations in long-held views and be prepared to be discomfited verbally and socially.
My suggestion for a possible cure for our nation’s ills is neither new nor complicated. It is a very simple concept: replace those in power. I realize this is a concept you have already considered and probably accepted. But simply endorsing a concept is not enough, you must examine its individual components and decide if you are willing to act on them.
You will note my choice of words — "possible cure" — because it might not work. It may take something more extreme to reverse the downward spiral of our nation. However, we should begin with the most palatable course of action and, if that fails, we can consider a more drastic approach. Obviously, the LRC website is not the appropriate place for recommending a particular political party or candidate, so I will only offer food for thought.
As a starting point, you must gauge the degree of your commitment. Below are some particulars that must be considered and you can decide how you will react in each case; will you stay on board or get off the train. This is a process of elimination and you can eliminate yourself at any point.
First, you must admit that the system is broken and neither of our two political parties can fix it. Both major parties, Republicans and Democrats, have made our problems worse. They have failed us. All they offer is more of the same. So if you think it will help matters to change from one major party to the other or vote for the lesser of two evils, you are wrong. You are only contributing to the problem.
Second, it accomplishes nothing to vote for a challenger to the incumbent if the challenger is also a Democrat or Republican. Regardless of promises made, once a newly elected member of Congress arrives in Washington, they adopt the party line. If you fall into either of these two categories, you don’t need to read any further.
Akin to this is voting for someone because of some personal idiosyncrasy. You know the kind of person who says: "Representative Joe Morgan grew up in this county. I’ve known his relatives for years. At the ribbon cutting ceremony for the new bridge, Joe shook my hand and asked about my family. Joe is …" Well, you get the picture. But, although Representative Joe Morgan might be Mr. Personality who delivers occasional pork barrel projects to the folks back home, his loyalty is first to his party, Republican or Democrat. He votes for many of the programs you disapprove of. If you are serious about fixing the problem, you must vote to replace those in power regardless of personal feelings. Some of you may want to eliminate yourselves at this point.
As strange as it may seem to some of us, there is a large segment of the population that is content with things the way they are. Although we outnumber them, they have more impact on public opinion than we do. This segment includes most members of the mainstream media; the entertainment field, academia, special interest groups, and activist organizations that promote the narrow objectives of particular ethnic and advocacy groups. Any attempt on our part to alter the status quo will incur the wrath of this segment of the population. However, they will not attempt to logically refute our arguments point by point. They will continue to impugn our motives with the derogatory labels that have been so effective in the past.
Some personal examples: When I wrote an article questioning the proliferation of slavery museums, I was called a "racist." A column containing a comment critical of the amount of foreign aid to Israel resulted in emails denouncing me as "anti-Semitic" and an article indicating that the North did not fight the Civil war because of their moral opposition to slavery earned me the sobriquet, "hayseed ignoramus." A letter to a local newspaper opposing State funding for the Women’s’ Studies program at the University of South Carolina produced a rebuttal accusing me of having a "Taliban mindset."
But being semi-retired, with no intention to run for public office, gives me the luxury of not caring what people say about me. However, your community and civic situation may be different. So you must decide if you are willing to publicly express your opinions and stand up to character attacks.
If you decide you are willing to publicly express your opinions, you must understand that the local newspaper might not allow them to be printed, especially if they conflict the newspaper’s own political agenda. Or they might print your letter after editing it beyond recognition. (I recently submitted a six-paragraph letter that was edited down to three sentences.) However, you must not be deterred from further submissions, because the more you submit the more likely it is that you will be printed. And others in the community need to know there are people who feel the way you do.
Now we come to the difficult part. If we reject Republicans and Democrats, whom do we turn to? Actually, we have numerous options; in fact we have too many. Some political parties are better than others but none have platforms that we can all agree on. Here are just a few names (subjectively selected) from the long list of alternatives: Green Party; Reform Party, Socialist Party, Southern Party, America First Party, Independence Party, Libertarian Party and Constitution Party.
Based on what I know about their platforms and activities, I will eliminate the Socialist Party, Green Party and Reform Party. Also, although this is a somewhat arbitrary choice, I don’t think the America First Party and the Independence Party have the political clout required for a serious presidential bid. So my choices are narrowed to the Southern Party, the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party.
I have a strong affinity for the Southern Party but it is tailored for southern states and southern culture. And, at this point in time, it is still an evolving concept and it has been weakened by internecine squabbles. Also, I’m afraid that the designation "southern" would be too limiting for a national contest. We know the mainstream media would pile on the anti-South stereotypes to try to discredit the Party.
So I am left with the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party. But these are two well-organized and nationally recognized third parties with headquarters in every state. Their candidates will probably appear on ballots in all 50 states.
The Libertarian Party is highly recommended, and it is the only party with a true free-market philosophy. This Party’s approach to governing would encourage immense and salutary changes in Washington. However, the very principles that make it valuable are the ones that would be subject to gross mischaracterization by the media. The Party’s beliefs will be portrayed as too visionary and inflexible — possibly even revolutionary.
The Constitution Party evolved from a revolt against the liberal shift in the Republican Party. It was originally called the U.S. Taxpayers Party. The name gradually evolved into the Constitution Party as members of other third parties joined it. The media will try to make an issue out of the Constitution Party’s strong Christian values. Its platform preamble states: "that the foundation of our political position and moving principle of our political activity is our full submission and unshakable faith in our Savior and Redeemer, our Lord Jesus Christ." Although this statement would have been acceptable to the Founding Fathers, media pundits will claim that it excludes other religions and therefore is detrimental to multiculturalism. Certainly, Constitution Party leaders should make it clear that citizens of all faiths as well as non-believers are welcome as members.
If we could persuade the Libertarian Party and the Constitution Party to negotiate their differences and merge into one party, we would have a force to be reckoned with. But we can’t really expect that to happen, because although they share many similar views, the positions they differ on do not appear negotiable, i.e., free trade and immigration. So we must choose one or the other, slap its bumper sticker on our car and make our support known to the community.
Of course, the media will downplay the chances of a third party victory. Also, many will try to convince you that you are wasting your vote by supporting a third party. But the Democrats and Republicans will continue to worsen our current predicament. So, is our only other option not to vote at all?
Ask yourselves, how have third party presidential candidates fared over the years? In 1968, George Wallace captured 14% of the popular vote even after being vilified by the media. In 1992, after withdrawing and reentering the race, firing his campaign manager, selecting a weak running mate and other flip-flopping, Ross Perot still garnered almost 20% of the popular vote. Teddy Roosevelt got almost 30% of the popular vote in the 1912 election. These statistics bode well for a third party bid for the presidency.
A victory by a third party could be the beginning of a new direction for America. Such a victory is possible if the disaffected could unite behind a single party, giving it their full support. It will be a difficult undertaking to fix what’s wrong with our country but it is an undertaking that cannot be postponed much longer.
Gail Jarvis [send him mail], a CPA living in Beaufort, SC, is an advocate of the voluntary union of states established by the founders.