It is obvious to me that our political process is deeply flawed. The frustration I hear and feel every day that emanates from Washington is getting worse and worse. I think I have a solution.
The Abuse of Power
To begin, let me define the basic problem. Each political party is made up of a variety of special interests. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing; it just means it only takes a vocal minority to establish a position within a political party. Once that is done, the party is obligated to honor it and advance if it can.
The parties advance their causes by passing laws and regulations. We all know to pass a law, the House of Representatives and the Senate pass it and then the President signs it. It is my thesis our biggest problems happen when the House and the Senate and the Presidency are all controlled by the same political party. Let’s call these power brokers (House, Senate, and President) the Big Three. And we will call any party that controls all three the Ruling Party.
Consider this: most of our legislative actions are done by majority vote. If 51 people want something and 49 do not, it can become a law, no matter how much the 49 disagree with it. This is the “tyranny of the majority”. There really is no way to guarantee protection of or respect for the minority position.
Regardless of which party is in power, that party tries to pass laws and regulations to satisfy their special interest constituents. If they have enough power, they get their way and they effectively move the societal pendulum away from the center. (Think of the “center” as the “comfort zone” for the vast majority of us.) If they have enough power and/or stay in office long enough, they push things so far away from the center that things start getting bad for the rest of us.
And, to further complicate things, the Ruling Party is often driven by one of their minority special interest groups, who are often not even a majority opinion of their own party. What kind of check and balance is there to prevent the “majority” from changing things that the real majority wants? Not much.
I know you are thinking right now, “Well, it is true of the other guys, but not about MY party.” Sorry. It is equally true in either direction. Given enough power and enough time, neither party is immune. Absolute power corrupts. Just that simple.
Do We Need A Ruling Party?
My argument is the best times for the American people happen when no single party controls all of the Big Three. Why is this? It is because when no one has all the power, neither party can get into too much mischief. Even if one Party wanted something, if the Other Party is in control of just one of the Big Three (House, Senate or Presidency), then it isn’t likely to happen. Neither party has the power to force its will on not only the Other Party but also on all the rest of us. This is a very good thing.
We have all heard the term “gridlock” applied to Congress. They usually say it like it is a bad thing; I think it is a great thing. As long as we have gridlock, then no single party can ramrod a piece of legislation through just because they have one more vote than the Other Party. When we have gridlock, we have a balance of power that is good for the rest of us.
When the Pendulum Is Out Of The Comfort Zone
When we find things are starting to feel bad, there really aren’t a lot of choices for us as individual citizens. We really have only one choice: vote out the Ruling Party and put in the Other Party. This sorta works. We elect the Other Party because they promised to move the pendulum back to the center.
When the Other Party Gets the Power
If the election throws out the Ruling Party and makes the Other Party the new Ruling Party, then we have effectively transferred absolute power to the Other Party. The new Ruling Party, proclaiming their mandate, will do everything they can to reverse the actions of the previous party and move things further back in their own direction. If they take it too far, of course, it causes us pain, because once again we have been moved out of our confort zone.
And when that happens, what do we do? We do the only thing we can do: we vote them out and put the first party back in. And the process begins all over again.
When the Other Party Gets Some Power – Gridlock
If the election resulted in something less than a clean sweep, and we have a situation where there is no Ruling Party (because both parties control at least one of the Big Three), then we have managed to break up the power block of the Ruling Party. This, in my opinion, is the ideal outcome. The Ruling Party no longer has the power to rubber stamp whatever they want done. This gridlock environment means there are no more slam dunks in the legislative arena.
It is true that a gridlocked Big Three isn’t going to be as “productive” as a Ruling Party with complete control over the Big Three. But do you want that? I don’t. That just guarantees more fussing and fighting while the dominant party jams its agenda down our throats. And then, of course, we have to wait until the next election when we can throw them out and try to reverse the damage they have done. Am I worried about a do-nothing congress that just sits around and collects their fat paychecks? Nope. Not a bit. Our country is used to paying people not to work. I have no problem bribing 435 + 100 + 1 elected officials to just sit on their hands.
I think Gridlock is a much better solution than throwing one party or the other out every 8-12 years. It would produce a lot less wailing, name calling, gnashing of teeth, biting of knuckles, and general animosity than any other solution.
So here is what I propose. Right now, we can all go into a voting booth and vote a straight party ticket. I want to add one more check box to that ballot. I want the option to vote for the Gridlock Party.
So who is in the Gridlock Party? How does it work? Well, it is quite simple, really. The Gridlock Party ballots get counted last. Count up the other ballots first. Figure out who would have won. Then if it looks like either party will become the Ruling Party with control over the Big Three (i.e., winning too much power), then our votes go for the Other Party. Think about it. We are voting to limit the power of the majority by denying them absolute power. Then everyone has to play nice if they want to accomplish anything.
We combine the full force of our voting power (liberal, conservative, and independent alike) to vote for a condition we believe will be better for everyone.
Gridlock Party Credo
We, the members of the Gridlock Party, are made up of all races, creeds, ideologies, and religions. And we are liberals, conservatives and independents. But the thing that unifies us is we don’t want to be jerked around by either party every few years. We don’t care about various social issues to the exclusion of all else. We don’t want causes. We don’t want raging debates. We are tired of half of the world being divided into enemy camps because they are conservative or liberal. We are tired of not being able to talk with neighbors about politics for fear of offending or inciting them. We just want a quiet enjoyment of our lives.
What are the biggest advantages of the Gridlock Party? Simple. We know when gridlock prevails, neither party has enough power to pass anything over the trampled remains of the Other Party; this puts an end to ramrod legislation and unpopular laws passed by a “majority”. Yes, it is true that fewer laws will be passed. This is a good thing. If they do pass something, then both of their fingerprints are on it. If it turns out to be a problem, they are both motivated to fix it. There will always be ideological differences. But if something happens that really is bad, and both parties can agree on a solution, then it is probably OK for us too. If they can’t agree on a solution, it is probably because each party wants to take us further away from the center. So it is just fine with me that they don’t reach an agreement. If they can agree, then OK. If they can’t, then I don’t want to go there either.
I can’t think of a better system than our democracy, but I do think we need to control the abuses of power that happen when one party gets too much Power. I, for one, will never again say “gridlock” like it is a bad thing.