I find myself disgruntled lately.

Shocked? I’m sure not, if you’ve read most of my other posts. But you’re probably asking, “What’s got you this time?” So here it is: our ridiculous two-party system of government.

I’m sick of Democrats. I’m sick of Republicans. I’m sick of party politics constantly trumping public policy. I’m sick of bickering, and empty promises. I’m sick of gerrymandering, and stalwart tactics, and of the threat of filibuster (because they don’t actually filibuster anymore you know). I’m sick of misleading 8-second sound bites by majority/minority leaders that exemplify denial and puerility more than reason and cooperation (of course, our attention spans and inane media have a lot to do with that – but that’s for another time).

On issue after issue, threat after threat, problem after problem, the whole idea of passing laws and enacting public policy expeditiously is secondary, if not tertiary, to protecting “The Party” and weakening the opposition.

I’ve seen Republicans kill Democratic bills of sound policy (policy they agree with, mind you) only to re-introduce identical legislation in the next session so they could claim it for their own. I’ve seen Democrats publicly crap all over passed bills simply because they might appear as Republican victories, despite the fact that most Democrats voted for it anyway. I’ve seen the environment deteriorate, sick Americans die, the economy flounder, and foreign threats rise all while these two bitter political enemies use our tax dollars and government buildings to fund their public media war in a never-ending struggle to win 51% of public opinion for a short while.

Why? In hopes of gaining or preserving their political power for one more term, one more session, or one more day. If sound policy gets passed into the bargain (by our side only, of course), that’s great, but the primary directive is to protect The Party at all costs.

Yes, I’m disgusted by what our system of governance, this sham of democracy, this twin-deviled republic, has become. The scorched earth tactics of partisan politics have no place in a true democracy. And in a two-party system, with winner-take-all stakes, the scorching is worse than ever.

As with any entity, be it a corporation, a not-for-profit, a union, or a political party, once it gets old enough, or big enough, or wealthy enough, or powerful enough that entity ceases to be about its original premise and starts to be about itself. It doesn’t happen quickly, and the premise is not forgotten entirely. But as threats to the organization arise, be they real or perceived, it starts to expend energy protecting against them. If those threats become great enough, it will expend energy outright attacking them. As more energy is spent on “defense”, less is spent advancing the cause. Gradually, the steadfast principles and moral resolve of the organization erode and mutate into a series of defense mechanisms and attack strategies, leaving the initial cause to dwindle as it is starved for resources. It seldom dies out entirely, but progress in its name becomes secondary to protecting its champion. Because, after all, “if we don’t survive, who will carry the torch?”

So is it with our two major parties. Over the last hundred-plus years we have watched these two beasts evolve into masterful war machines that excel at self-preservation using weapons of inflamed rhetoric, obstructionism, connivance, obfuscation, denial, and vengeance. They war back and forth, barely maintaining the illusion of governance while they conduct their power struggle; the lives of busy Americans and the welfare of our country and planet lay in the wake of their selfish destruction.

The truth is, our parties’ actions and the resulting ineptness in our government not only make me enraged, they embarrass me. Outwardly, our government appears to be a bunch of incompetent boobs, stubborn ideologues, and vitriolic blowhards. And these people represent me, and my beloved country!

I could describe to you the number of ways our government is different from what it should be. But no one has done it better than one of the 20th century’s most-gifted poets, and so I shall let him do it for me:

Where the Mind Is Without Fear

Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high
Where knowledge is free
Where the world has not been broken up into fragments
By narrow domestic walls
Where words come out from the depth of truth
Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection
Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way
Into the dreary desert sand of dead habit
Where the mind is led forward by thee
Into ever-widening thought and action
Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake.

Rabindranath Tagore

As you can see, I have such simple yet high hopes for my country. But I feel them slipping out of reach as partisan bickering distracts the populace from witnessing their own demise.

So what do I suggest we do about it? Nothing new. Nothing you haven’t heard before. It’s pretty simple really.

I want a new political party. But with a slight twist.

Rather than being a party based solely on issues and policy stances, I want to back away from that weedy swamp and instead focus first on some basic principles.

The foundation of this party must be based on the following:

  1. Advancement of public policy for the long-term benefit of the people of the city, county, state, or nation under your representation.
  2. Absolute rejection of stalwart tactics used (by any party) to impede, diminish, or destroy sound policy including:
    • filibuster
    • purposefully delaying/terminating bills for political reasons
    • using legislative/executive rules and loopholes to impede bills coming to vote
  3. Absolute dedication to complete open government. ALL governance should be conducted in full view of the public with accurate records kept and made readily available in a prompt and timely fashion.
  4. Absolute dedication to fair and impartial representation of the people as well as honest, open elections that seek to help all legal voters to easily cast their vote.
  5. Absolute rejection of manipulations of government to serve any political party’s interest, including Gerrymandering and Voter Suppression. This also includes using government buildings, time, or resources for party-related gatherings such as party caucus meetings.
  6. Commitment to read, analyze, and consider policy based on its merits, supporting evidence, foresight, intrinsic value or need, and potential direct benefits over the long term.
  7. Dedication to bridging political divides, co-authoring sound legislation introduced by members of all political parties, and supporting viable legislation without regard for party politics.
  8. Sound reliance on observable facts and carefully collected scientific data from multiple sources when authoring, analyzing, or voting on public policy.
  9. Absolute rejection of the influence of special interest groups or organizations through bought “access.” To maintain the integrity of objective and open government the total rejection of any type of funding by any corporation, union, or otherwise politically motivated entity other than an individual is absolutely necessary.
  10. Strict opposition to the abuse of office for personal/political gain and all related tactics such as embezzlement, bribery, kickbacks, cronyism, nepotism, or any other method that misuses public funds or places public governance in the hands of unqualified individuals.

Now, undoubtedly those are all bright and shiny principles. Am I dreaming? Of course I am. But I challenge anybody to demonstrate how employing these principles will not deliver us a better, more open, more productive government. Even a single mind within the legislature, employing these principles could potentially break down barriers, end filibusters, initiate motion on long-ignored issues, and even cast deciding votes on the passage of legislation.

In greater numbers, such a party could change the face of government. The idea of “one-party rule” is virtually eliminated since no party would ever hold a 51% majority in the legislature. Coalitions would have to be built between members of two or more parties in order to get anything passed. This, in turn, would start to break down the growing tradition of party-line votes and would most-likely end the now accepted 60-vote barrier in the Senate, which we see extinguish hard-fought and even bipartisan policy time and again.

We’ve got real problems, and they aren’t going anywhere. We need legislation to deal with most of them in some way or another. But how can we expect to solve anything if party continues to stand in the way of policy? Our problems are growing, both in number and magnitude, and with each day they advance another step. Yet our current system of government is anchoring us to counter-productive political rivalries that continue to pull us backward.

We need something to break the logjam, and the way both major parties are consistently behaving is only clogging up the stream more. We need reason, cooperation, openness, and advancement to take the place of resolve, defiance, hypocrisy, and obstinance. I don’t think that’s too much to ask for.

What would I call this new entity? “The Forward Party”

It’s motto? “Progress – plain and simple.”