Even though George Washington advised against forming political parties, every president since has belonged to one. I understand the need for a party platform. They help unite people with common goals and interests. Members of a party work together to pass legislation, or get candidates elected to office. As a history teacher (with a degree in history/ political science) I understand the evolution of the party system giving us the two dominate parties that exist today. I know the how’s and why’s, and I’ve heard all the arguments for and against such a system. My gripe is not about the two party system: my angst is really over the particular parties we have right now.
The predominant political parties have changed quite frankly as times have changed. With the ratification of the Constitution there was a well organized Federalist Party in the early days of American history. There were a handful of Whig presidents back in the day. Think back to how the Republicans started out; President Lincoln and Radical Republicans freed the slaves, made them citizens, and gave them the right to vote. It was Democrats in the 19th century that favored white power in the South and passed Jim Crow segregation laws. As soon as blacks could vote, they voted Republican.
Fast forward to the 21st century.
The Republican Party is known today for family values, such as wanting a ban on same-sex marriage and voting against abortion. Thanks in no small part to Ronald Reagan, GOP members pride themselves for their morality. These are the things I like about the Republican party, and why I have voted Republican in the last four presidential elections. Nevertheless there are some things I do not like about this party. George H. W. Bush became famous (or infamous) for his theories of “trickle down” economics. Most owners and investors of big business are Republicans, and it is often the wealthiest Americans who receive tax breaks and allowances. The theory is that when big business makes a profit, they can hire more workers, build more factories, expand, and eventually the economic returns trickle down to the hourly wage earners at the bottom. I know many, many poor laborers who vote Republican on issues of morality that will be kept poor by their party’s economic policies. I’ve had enough economics to know that the top 2 or 3% of Americans control 90% (or more) of the wealth. Republicans are the candidates that maintain that status quo.
The Democratic Party is known today for being there for the little guy. Labor unions, including the ones school teachers belong to, always endorse the Democratic candidate for office because of their stance on labor rights. The past two Democratic presidents, Obama and Clinton, have attempted to overhaul the healthcare system in our country. This is what I like about the Democratic Party. Health care costs have skyrocketed in the past 20 years. I personally place all of the blame, ALL of the blame, on the insurance industry. Insurance companies, watching the bottom line for their investors, have made health care unaffordable – perhaps unthinkable – for a growing number of Americans. There are good doctors that leave the profession because they can no longer afford their malpractice insurance; even though they have NEVER filed a claim. Health care reform is more than long overdue, and although I did not vote for Obama I wish he had been more successful in getting his programs passed through Congress. Socialized health care wouldn’t make us the Soviet Union. Look at Hawaii – yes, the 5oth state in the Union – if you don’t believe me. The Canadians are laughing at us, swear to God. When conservatives call Obama the President of the United Socialist States of American, the British have no idea what their talking about nor what the problem is. I can tell you what the problem is.
Problem one, and there are plenty of others saying the same thing, is the polarization in our political system. You can’t simple disagree with someone. A person with a differing political opinion must become Hitler, the Devil and Pol Pot all rolled into one. Republican party members demonize Obama and his supports in order to turn others against his policy. Democrats do exactly the same thing, portraying W. Bush as a druken frat boy and Chaney as a cross between the Vice President and the Penguin from Batman. There is no middle. On every issue we must be extremely Right or Left politically. And God forbid any member of Congress speak favorably about any idea, suggestion or thought coming from the other side of the isle. The entire system operates in an “us vs. them” mentality. That’s one problem.
Here’s the problem I wish to address. (I’m sorry this essay is already at 800 words.) We do not have a party that offers us the best of both. I am a person of moral fiber. I read the Bible, attend church, and attempt to raise a godly family in a moral household. I believe marriage can only be defined as between one man and one woman. Abortion is murder. Taking a life is murder, abortion takes a life, and there is a disconnect somewhere in the logic of pro-choice. BUT… I would also like to see more regulation of big business. I believe the wealthiest Americans should pay the highest percentage of taxes. I would like to see the educational system funded in this country the way it should be. We need health care reform. What we have accomplished in the past year is a start. I wish there were fewer lawyers in this country period. Why is there not a political party in favor of high morals and social gospel? Republicans like to quote the Bible, but I’m not sure they have all read the part about pleading the cause of the fatherless and the widow. I like many Democratic programs designed to help people, but Obama has the most liberal policy toward abortion of any president ever and Bubba Clinton; we don’t even have to go there do we?
Abraham Lincoln was a Republican president that improved the lives of millions of people that couldn’t even vote for him. FDR was a democrat who brought us out of the worst financial disaster in our history and lead us bravely through most of World War I. Why do both parties give us such lousy choices today? I can’t cast a vote for neither/nor but the party and candidate I want to vote for is just not there.