The Start Of Another Rigged Election Season

7 Jan

So, here I am again at the start of another election season – that got a really early start last year – with no clear candidate I like. And, as in every contest since 1988, I have voted for the least evil, but still evil, candidate, not because a party nominee pressed all my issue buttons, but because I had to choose between two, perhaps three, party-stamped brands. Why do I bother running through the issues, reading the platforms, listening to the speeches…tell me where to vote and give me cash. Who’s willing to give me more for my vote? Why should I waste my time, you know, thinking.

That’s why I read Amanda Marcotte. She just out and admits it’s all about the last two men standing: “So after 6+ months of a roller coaster ride of candidates rising and falling in the polls leading up to the Iowa caucus, Republicans in Iowa got together and produced the best possible outcome for the Obama campaign.” Marcotte assures me Romney is the Republican nominee, and he’s wounded already. Game over! Four more years of the same!

Matt Lewis appeals to the betting man: there’s a rebellion against Romney. And, for lovers of chaos, there’s the delicious prospect of a brokered convention!

Even such chaos, aesthetically pleasing though it might be, is not enough. Tawdry shoving matches over arcane rules of procedure and sordid string-pulling tactics is still not the optimal way to air issues. How can you get voters arguing with one another?

For those who are extremely dissatisfied with the status quo in American political life and are seeking ways to change it, supporting one of the two major-party candidates in the 2012 presidential campaign as the principal form of activism offers no solution. That’s not an endorsement for resignation, apathy, non-voting, voting for a third party, or anything else. It’s just a simple statement of fact: on many issues that progressives themselves have long claimed are of critical, overarching importance (not all, but many), there will be virtually no debate in the election because there are virtually no differences between the two candidates and the two parties on those questions. In the face of that fact, there are two choices: (1) simply accept it (and thus bolster it) on the basis that the only political priority that matters is keeping the Democratic Party and Barack Obama empowered; or (2) searching for ways to change the terms of the debate so that critical views that are now excluded by bipartisan consensus instead end up being heard.

Firstly, there needs to be electoral reform, that scraps the FPTP system for something like Australia’s. Secondly, appoint independent commissions, to handle redistricting and minimize gerrymandering. Finally, strengthen campaign finance laws and abolish corporate personhood through a constitutional amendment.

And then, maybe we can talk about foreign policy.

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