The Democratic primary is beginning to descend into more or less the same hell as is the Republican primary.
Are we approaching the final act of the two party system? Isn’t it about time?
In the U.S., we’re given to enshrining arbitrary social constructs, such as capitalism=good and socialism=bad, in the pantheon of sacred truisms that simply will not be challenged. The primacy of our two party system is one of those enshrined assumptions that deserves renewed scrutiny.
This system emerged in the infancy of our nation when its population was more or less homogenous and the practical value of cooperation was pretty generally accepted.
While growth and economic expansion was the primary goal of the young nation, unbridled immigration was a way to maintain a cheap labor force and gain entrepreneurial preeminence in the modern world.
As the population inevitably grew more and more diverse, there was never any thought given to retooling the one-size fits all, conservative vs. liberal divide represented in the rigid two party system.
We limped along, giving one side and then the other control in pretty rapid succession, leaving more and more individual viewpoints out of the conversation or dissatisfied with the available parameters.
Polarization within the two parties and distrust of government has resulted in a crippled process.
The party system has come close to going off the rails on a few occasions, but the 2016 primary race has taken us to a new low, with both parties seeing meaningful challenges to the party elite from an unyielding base on the perimeter.
‘Closed’ primaries, superdelegates, coin-tosses and all the rest are reflections of how undemocratic and arbitrary the two party system is. Somehow, these two ‘clubs’ have been allowed to seize the system, and because they are autonomous unto themselves, they are allowed to make all their own rules. Anyone who wants to play must join one of the two clubs or be reviled as a spoiler.
Sometimes, as in the case of the New York primary, it’s made very difficult for independents to gain a vote in either club.
While a closed primary may protect the establishment candidate on his/her path to the nomination, in the long run, it doesn’t do the party any favors. Independents can and will vote in the general election, so taking their preference into consideration in the primary would seem to be an essential first move.
We frown on business monopolies but have surrendered our democracy to a similar scheme.
Now we have come rather abruptly to the logical conclusion of such exclusivity, with both parties moving to opposite polls and gridlock resulting in Congress. There is no possibility of coalition, as there is in the Canadian Parliament where several parties successfully compete and collaborate in the process.
If we gain nothing more toward reforming the election process, job one should of course be reversing the Citizens United decision. Job two? Challenge the constitutionality of closed primaries. In a nation where the majority of voters identify as ‘independents,’ closed primaries represent good ol’ fashion voter suppression.
Aren’t we better than this?