By Michael F.S.W. Morrison
In one of the old party’s national conventions, about 1952, I think, the campaign signs proliferated.
Some were blunt. “We Need Truman.”
Some were poetic: “We Need Adlai Badly.”
And some were more pointed: “Arizona Needs Water.”
Some things don’t change. Arizona will always need water.
But of politicians, we seem to have a plenitude.
Ah, but do we really have enough? Yes, we sure seem to have more than enough, but do we really have any choices?
This morning, I received a friend’s e-mail message: “He (the Starbucks founder)” [Howard Schultz] “is so ‘upset’ about the Trump presidency that he’s thinking about self-funding an independent candidacy to siphon off enough votes to make sure Trump gets re-elected?
My friend’s complaint is common, and in fact Democrats today are quoted as angry about the likelihood, but the problem, and one that badly affects us Arizonans and, in fact, every United Statesian, is that we are all burdened by the myth, by the imposed falsehood, that “we are a two-party system.”
With a “two-party system,” voters are faced with politicians who cater to some vague and undifferentiated “middle.”
That is, two-party politicians pander (which is better than “cater”) to some mass rather than offer positions based on principle, on some philosophical basis.
We get offered identity politics, promises of government’s giving us all kinds of gifts, without, of course, any explanation of where those gifts will come from.
In other words, we get, from two-party politicians, lots of demagoguery, but very few facts or ideas.
What the two old parties and their co-conspirators in the “news” media – obviously and definitely not including our beloved Arizona Daily Independent – ignore and want you not to know is that there are three other parties, national parties.
In fact, there are probably dozens of other parties, some which actually have some presence in one state or another and might even get on a ballot, and many more that might try but seldom if ever actually get to offer a candidate to the voters.
Then, while politicians and bureaucrats send our young men and women out to risk their lives to “bring democracy” to the benighted heathen, in fact we really don’t have “democracy” here.
And I don’t mean just the difference between “democracy” and “republic,” though that is very important.
I mean democracy as in “letting the citizens participate,” letting the voters, the workers, the producers, the potential cannon fodder actually have some say in how government functions.
Of course we really, and I mean really, need to reduce the size, scope, and reach of government, government at all levels.
Other than those people who make their living from government, including politicians and bureaucrats and various parasites (such as so many in the so-called defense industries and other subsidized businesses), most people complain.
But most people don’t do anything.
“Why bother?” is the usual mantra.
Yes, why bother when the two choices offered mean the poor voter must choose an alleged “lesser evil”?
Well, one solution is, obviously, more choices. More parties. More independent candidates. (And how desperately we need None of the Above on every ballot!)
Then, of course, we get the other mantra: “You will be wasting your vote.”
And that other other mantra: “You will be helping …” the old party candidate the mantra-chanter dislikes more.
As in, “If you vote for Howard Schultz, you will be helping Trump.”
Strangely, and interestingly, there is a simple solution. A simple solution already in use in other countries and in at least one state right now: Ranked Choice voting.
There is also Instant Runoff voting, and, I blush to admit, I don’t know the difference.
Both give the voter the chance to say, “I prefer Candidate A, but I realize other voters might not be as intelligent, as knowledgeable as I so they will go with Candidate B. Therefore I will make Candidate B my second choice. And I’ll accept Candidate C as my third choice, and Candidate D as my fourth … and Candidate E? Forget about it!”
Will government get any better? Perhaps only a very little. But isn’t a little better preferable to the constant worsening we have seen since, well, really, since 1789?
The politicians and “news” media are always whining about the low voter-turnout so if they are sincere (and isn’t it a shame we nearly always doubt sincerity on the part of both?), they could easily increase that participation merely by “allowing” (and isn’t that a shameful word to be using in this supposedly “free country”?) us more choices. And giving “news” coverage to those other choices.
Some benighted countries, such as Australia, actually force people to vote, fining them if they don’t get to the polls.
But as I told one of my students several years ago when I was a non-voter: I don’t want to have to choose between being eaten by alligators or being eaten by crocodiles. I don’t want to be eaten.
Ah, but if there is on the ballot a candidate who promises not to eat us? Well, lots more people might celebrate by registering to vote and then actually voting.
“Choice” should refer to much more than abortion. “Choice” should be a part of every aspect of life. And especially do we need a choice of candidates.
Michael F.S.W. Morrison is a free-lance editor and publisher, formerly a journalist, print and broadcast, and classical-music radio announcer, and television director. He also has been a political campaign manager and consultant, and was a philosophy major in college