With all due respect to Mr. Thomas Friedman, It’s clear that the third party approach doesn’t work. It never has.
Since the dawn of the United States, we have lived with a two-party system. Sure, the party names have changed (hello and goodbye to you, Whig Party), but it essentially has been a one-or-the-other choice. Take that, “strict constitutionalists.” But every few decades, a new party is floated about, and the same thing happens. And so, because of dysfunction in Congress, the question is raised: “How do we solve this mess?”
The short answer is, we can’t. We can’t because that job belongs to our elected officials, whom — surprising, I know — we elect to do such things for us. That doesn’t stop Very Serious People* from coming up with an idea of how to fix the system. The most recent idea came about late in the past decade. This group is what I like to call the “squishy middle.”
The “squishy middle,” composed of not-really-but-it-sounds-nice independent voters, doesn’t exist. To believe that they exist defies human nature. We all create our own normatives, and I’m completely fine with that. To say that one person can change his or her mind so freely and easily is unbelievable.
I recently came across a group, Americans Elect, that wants to crowd-source a presidential election. Without a doubt, this is a dumb idea. No third party — yes, I’m calling Americans Elect a party — would go beyond the bounds of the two parties. The GOP is more than happy to veer right, and despite conservative claims that the Democrats are the second coming of Lenin himself, the Dems have drifted right in order to get those “squishy middle independents.” The progressive wing of the Democratic party has been marginalized. In order to position itself as a “middle” party, Americans Elect would have to be center-right to right — and I’m using 1990s metrics. But most in the “squishy middle” don’t even do that.
The battle cry of the “squishy middle” isn’t “let’s reform labor laws to give unions the power they had in the 1950s, but still make sure that their power is not abused.” It’s not any policy whatsoever. It’s standing on the sidelines, screaming, “Somebody do something!” Look at No Labels, a centrist organization dedicated to just getting along. Look at the students — led by Georgetown University’s GUSA — who drafted a letter to President Obama asking that something should be done, yet could not say what should be done.
Wishes that something gets done doesn’t mean that something gets done. Actually voting makes sure that something gets done. This is the time that the refrain is spoken, but it’s a terrible either-or choice! It doesn’t have to be that way, though. The primary election — which everyone seems to forget exists — is whee you get to choose the more-sane candidate. In other words, don’t complain about today what you could have fixed 16 months ago.
*Very Serious People is a 21st century version of “they.” It simply refers to the people that are on your TV all the time and, despite their different opinions, all seek the same consensus