This is a bit off topic for this blog, but it’s been on my mind lately…
Libertarians have a problem. We are not taken seriously. We don’t have the numbers, we’re seen as radical, and the two main parties are not going to permit any third party to even get close to threatening their cozy oligarchy.
There are certainly Democrats, Republicans, and especially independents who sympathize with libertarians on some issues, but when they vote, they tend to pick a candidate that represents their position on a broader spectrum of issues, so they give their vote to one of the traditional mainstream party candidates. And, the two parties are totally content with that situation.
The political status quo in the U.S. is ensured by the fact that voters have to pick between two political power groups and have almost no means to influence the government on any individual issue, which is why government can do what it pleases despite public sentiment.
This is where the Tea Party differs from tradition. Yes, they are essentially a subdivision of the Republican Party, but their strategy of focusing on a single issue has magnified their power to the point where they can’t be ignored. They have embarrassed the Republicans and done real injury to the arrogant foregone conclusion that the party is ruled from the top.
The Tea Party gave ordinary people a powerful voice on a single issue and it changed the course of both parties. No small accomplishment. It empowered freshmen Congressmen and set a precedent that the mainstream parties ruled by the old guard are vulnerable, something Libertarians have never been able to do.
So, just where the hell am I going with this? What I’m wondering is whether the two party system will ultimately be subdued by single issue parties that each control enough votes to get the notice of the candidates of the mainstream parties. Instead of a voter belonging only to the Republican or Democratic parties, they could also belong to other parties each of which exists for the purpose of promoting a single issue.
As long as we have a political system with only two choices (which aren’t really that different from each other) we are going to continue to get the status quo. And there is no way the two incumbent parties are ever going to permit a third party to grow into a real threat. What we need are a bunch of different grass-roots Tea Parties, each with a single focus that has the power of a PAC or a lobbying group to advance the agenda of ending the drug war or the wars in Afghanistan and or balancing the budget or ending the death penalty or repealing laws against consensual “crime”.
Whether we like them or not, we may be seeing in the Tea Party, the beginning of the end of the two-party hegemony on political power in the U.S. They commandeered a single issue and said to the world, we’re organized and we are really pissed off. Ignore us at your peril. And the key that makes it really attractive is that you don’t have to surrender your position on any other issue to be a member. Add to that the power of the internet and it might not be as much of a fantasy as it might seem on the surface.
[Posted by Dave Krueger]