05 August 2007

The System is Broke, Long Live the System!

The other day, a neighbor asked me (in what is a major breech of Southern Decorum), "Are you a Republican or a Democrat?" Said neighbor was confused because he couldn't pin me down. Several years ago, when I was writing opinion pieces for the Rapid River magazine, the editor would share with me letters he received in response to some of my articles, wherein, on occasion, the writers would thank him for including, in his "liberal" mag, a "conservative" viewpoint.

Now, I don't believe that any of you who read my little blog would ever confuse me with a "Republican" or "conservative". Therefore, you most likely think that I am a "Democrat". And, technically speaking, you would be correct - on the advice of my father when I turned eighteen: "If you register as Independent, you will receive literature from fringe groups, and in the primaries your only option will be to vote using the "Republican" ballot (North Carolina law)" - anyway, I followed his advice.

This is a decision that I have often regretted, such as today, when things like this happen. It is also a decision that I have resolved to correct the next time I find myself in the county seat (which is in the opposite direction from where I travel for work and to visit local friends - and I'm not burning two gallons of fossil fuels just to change my voter registration).

Problem is, only the "Democratic" and "Republican" Parties are certified in North Carolina, which means that other parties - such as Green, Constitution, Libertarian, etc - have to submit petitions containing just under 70,000 certified signatures just to be included in the general election ballot. Then, assuming that a "third" party can get the proper number of certified signatures, they further have to garner 10% of the vote in the subsequent election - else they have to go through the whole petition process again.

At first glance, this may appear to be an attempt, by the North Carolina government, to be in accord with George Washington's admonition, in his farewell address(and if you've never read the whole thing, do so), against the formation of political parties:

No alliance, however strict, between the parts can be an adequate substitute; they must inevitably experience the infractions and interruptions which all alliances in all times have experienced.... The basis of our political systems is the right of the people to make and to alter their constitutions of government....

All obstructions to the execution of the laws, all combinations and associations, under whatever plausible character, with the real design to direct, control, counteract, or awe the regular deliberation and action of the constituted authorities, are destructive of this fundamental principle, and of fatal tendency. They serve to organize faction, to give it an artificial and extraordinary force; to put, in the place of the delegated will of the nation the will of a party, often a small but artful and enterprising minority of the community; and, according to the alternate triumphs of different parties, to make the public administration the mirror of the ill-concerted and incongruous projects of faction, rather than the organ of consistent and wholesome plans digested by common counsels and modified by mutual interests.

However combinations or associations of the above description may now and then answer popular ends, they are likely, in the course of time and things, to become potent engines, by which cunning, ambitious, and unprincipled men will be enabled to subvert the power of the people and to usurp for themselves the reins of government, destroying afterwards the very engines which have lifted them to unjust dominion.
[emphasis mine]

Unfortunately, the system that is in place, and not just in North Carolina, is one that seeks to maintain the supremacy of the two party dynamic. In the comments on a recent post at JONESTOWN, I said, in part: "What this country needs is a truly representational Congress. Enough of this two-party bullshit! The political spectrum is. not. binary."

I am not a "Republican". I am not, despite my official voter registration, a "Democrat". In fact, I don't know that any of the "parties" truly represent my beliefs. They are all, as Washington said, antithetical to the unity of the people. Political parties are a symptom of the, as my good friend TheCunningRunt has so eloquently put it, "Othering" which I so detest.

The time has come, my friends, to put aside the contrived labels of "party" and - here I delve into dangerous territory - "race" and even "nation". I am a human, and a resident of the Planet Earth. The fourth daughter of a Nepalese goatherd is my sister, and (as much as it may pain me) George W. Bush is my brother. Okay, I threw up in my mouth a little at that - but it is true.

We all share this Pale Blue Dot, and it is vitally important, for our continued existence, that we begin to act that way.

UPDATE: As I was adding the links above, I found that fairlane has a new post up at JONESTOWN along these same lines, which is - in my opinion - more to the point.

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