Nonpartisanship: Lesser of two evils?

There are always puzzled looks people get when they come out of the closet, as it were, about their political affiliation when it’s neither the Democratic nor Republican parties.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m not out there on street corners mumbling about the government, it’s just that I have a supremely hard time believing that 300 million Americans can be categorized as one of two things – conservative or liberal.

There are so many of these “hot button issues” about, and if you get too wrapped up in the mentality that you can only be one of two things, well, you start compromising what you know is right. Perhaps you just become that member of your respective party to whom no one ever listens. Either way, nothing ever gets done the way people think it should. Isn’t that democracy? Does every individual translate what he or she thinks ought to be done into a vote for someone who best represents him or her? If you have members of the public who are alienated from the parties by being moderate in their views, then you have a public who can’t cast an honest vote. Oh, it’s still a free country; you can still throw your vote away and vote for one of the other parties or not even vote at all.

How can we really believe in freedom and democracy but be so stuck on the notion that you can only vote “A” or “B,” either-or, this-or-that, and to vote for anyone else is tantamount to not voting at all?

Why do Americans all believe that there are only two possible paths for our country to take: the Democratic half-hearted socialist utopia where everyone gets along because if you don’t they take you to sensitivity classes, or the Republican uber-capitalistic society with lots of guns and miniature American flags? I would like to think there is a balance. The kind of balance you get when a couple hundred million Americans actually vote for what they really think is right and not for who has the better commercial. The kind of balance you get when the government is split up between two parties so nothing at all is accomplished because the Democrats and Republicans spend all day making funny faces at each other and not, you know, trying to improve our lives or anything too pressing.

Let’s face it, Bush and Gore in 2000 were boring. People didn’t vote in record numbers because no one really knew what the difference was between the two of them, minus the height difference and political party.

So the competition was decided, not by the majority of Americans, but by the zealous members of the Church of Democrats and the Church of Republicans: the Rush Limbaugh fans, the Michael Moore enthusiasts, the generally silly people who form opinions with a remote control or radio dial before they use brain cells.

The majority of Americans didn’t choose the government we have now, and the way Kerry versus Bush is turning out, the die-hard party zealots will be deciding who will lead our country for us yet again. Essentially, John Kerry and George W. Bush are the same person, excepting that one purports to have better hair and the other really doesn’t like homosexuals.

I’m sure there are some excellent arguments in favor of the two-party system. Stability is one. America is very stable politically, unlike certain other countries. The problem is that it’s not so much stability as gridlock.

Clinton is remembered for one thing, and one thing alone, but what is striking is that he had two terms. He was the last president we had before the current one. He was totally unremarkable except for the fact that he certainly liked the ladies, but aside from that, what did he do? He spent a lot of time having the Republican-controlled Congress do the opposite of what he said, then he did the opposite of what it said. Nothing was ever accomplished. That’s political stability.

Of course, it’s also a rather childish way to behave, especially since we purport to be the greatest nation in the world and the moral compass for everyone else to follow.

So why not vote for a good candidate instead of the party you personally deem less evil, or in some cases, the party whose mascot you have a tattoo of on your body? If Americans threw away their votes, this country might one day be ruled by the will of the people.

AJ Rollo is a freshman majoring in philosophy and literature.