An answer from Brad
In the past six years I've come to count Brad Cavanagh as a friend. It's funny to think that someone I started chatting with because of my late shift in the computer lab and a two-hour timezone difference is now someone I communicate with on almost a daily basis.
I jokingly referenced him in an entry here a couple of days ago (regarding U.S. politics) but didn't really expect an answer. I was a bit surprised this morning when a thoughtful, full-fledged answer arrived in my mailbox. I asked him if I could quote bits from his letter to me, because it made me think, and he was gracious enough to agree.Originally I thought that I'd quote snippets of what he sent, but I think I'd rather quote it in a large chunks, so that I don't accidentally misrepresent his words:
"As an outsider looking in on the 'grandeur' of the US, I think the major problem with the US political system is that it's turned into more of a business of politics than anything else. Everything's geared towards getting elected. I'm not saying that it's much different anywhere else, but it just seems that in the US everything's more focussed on getting elected than, say, doing something good. A fairly major contributing factor in this has got to be the clockwork schedule of elections. You know when elections are rolling around. You can be guaranteed that every four years you're going to get the battle of the Republicrats for the presidential elections. The phrase "familiarity breeds contempt" comes to mind. People know that the elections are coming, and consequently they tune out. Then you get only the truly politically devout paying any attention to voting, and the politically devout are generally special interest groups. And unfortunately these days special interest groups are those with money. Then the general public sees big business holding the strings of the presidential puppet and becomes even more apathetic. "What's the point in voting when corporations are going to be running things regardless?" It's a vicious feedback loop, and incredibly tough to break out of.
Do I see a solution for you guys? Nope. I think your course has been set and there's no way to break out of it. There's no way the established parties are going to let someone like Nader or Buchanan get big enough that they'll be a factor. And until the two-party system goes the way of the Berlin Wall, the feedback loop is going to keep feeding upon itself."
I read this, and I think he's got a point. I started asking myself more pointed questions about the future of our political system, and I realized that I think what I'm seeing is an endgame, playing itself out in slow motion. What we are watching is the slow and painful morphing of a two-party system that has almost put itself out of business.
The problem is that corporate America has finally figured out how to completely exploit the two-party system to their advantage. How else can it be when companies donate hundreds of thousands of dollars to both parties? They are not supporting a cause; they are feathering their nests. Whoever wins will be a friend of theirs.
I'd say that it makes you wonder who the politicians are serving, but really, it doesn't. We already know the answer.
Political change will not occur in a vacuum; I just happen to think that no real changes will occur until third parties become mainstream in American society. I think it will eventually happen; our society will eventually become politically demoralized enough that the attraction of third party candidates will increase enough to get some of them elected.
But I can guarantee you that the Republicrats will fight it every step of the way.
It was nice to get someone else's thoughts on this issue. I'm sure I'll have more to say before Election Day.