Many Americans are understandably fed up with both the Republican and Democratic parties. Increasingly, Americans are calling for a third party to emerge and take the country in a new direction. Keep dreaming. A third party isn’t coming. The mathematics that underlie the Constitution will only allow for two parties to be dominant at any one time. Instead, Americans need to recognize that their own binary extremism is to blame for breathing continuous life into the dysfunctional political machine that is DC. It’s time for Americans to drop ideology and labels, restore reason, and restore the center.
There Will Never Be a Third Party
The United States has a plurality vote political system coupled with single member districts, otherwise known as the “winner take all” system. The Constitution does not provide proportional representation such as is found in many other major democracies. The dominance of two political parties is a mathematical consequence of the winner-take-all system because it requires that competing political parties be broadly popular enough to get a majority of votes in order to win.
While many Americans attribute the lack of a third party to corruption, this is not the case. The reason America has two dominant parties is a matter of mathematics, not politics. In fact, other countries with similar election systems also tend toward two dominant parties.
So it’s time to give up on this pipe dream. As long as the Constitution is not amended otherwise, there will only be two dominant parties in America.
Americans Need a New Mindset
Instead of seeking a third party to solve America’s problems, it is time that the radical middle, the centrists, emerge and claim their rightful place in politics.
These days, the term “centrist” has become a pejorative. Many see centrists as weak in morals and too quick to compromise. But compromise is essential to the function of democracy, without it, we would live in dictatorship. The ability to compromise is a virtue, not a sin.
Further, it is not the role of a centrist to find the “middle” between the political positions of the right and left. Centrists aren’t abandoning morals or principles in the blind pursuit of cooperation.
No, a centrist is simply one who recognizes that the universe rarely exists in the absolute. More often than not, issues are not black or white, positive or negative, or “right” or “wrong.” Instead, just about everything exists in shades of grey, between the absolutes and the extremes.
Models and Labels
As the old saying goes, “all models are wrong, but some are useful.” Centrists recognize that popular ideologies, such as “socialism,” “capitalism,” “communism,” libertarianism” …etc, are just labels attached to models…or ways of thinking about the world. They are all wrong in that they imperfectly describe the world as it exists, but are nonetheless useful in their insights.
Anytime that someone commits themselves blindly to an ideology, they are committing themselves to an absolute extreme, one that does not describe nor truly solve problems in the real word.
Centrists understand that far from pure evil, capitalism has enormous merits but unrestrained and unregulated capitalism, blind devotion to the greenback, is detrimental to society.
Centrists recognize that gun control is not about “taking the guns away” but nor is it about unfettered access to firearms for anyone who wants them. It’s about a sensible approach to the availability of machines designed to kill one another.
Centrists understand that just because someone disagrees with another’s view of gender or identity, this does not mean that the former “hates” the latter. Disagreement is not hate.
Centrists recognize that America’s healthcare crisis need not be addressed solely by government takeover, but also cannot be addressed by blindly placing the “free” market at the controls either.
Centrists understand that there is no compromise between the growing the economy and the protecting the environment; that sustainable development is good for the economy in the long run.
Our politicians ask us to make a binary choice on all of the above, guns or freedom, environment or the economy, capitalism or socialism. But any sensible person knows that the extremes, the absolute positions we are forced to vote on…are all wrong. We don’t have to be forced into one position or the other, we CAN choose the reasonable and rational middle ground.
It Starts With You
America is more polarized now than at any time in history save for the Civil War. Yet, America faces untold challenges in healthcare, education, immigration, in the economy….and these challenges are being woefully unmet. There are no deus ex machinas in the real world, a third party is not coming to save us…but you can. You can listen to those that you disagree with. You can reject the politicians who force you into a binary choice. You can reject the absolutes and the extreme ideologies that incorrectly describe the world and present no viable solutions to today’s ills.
The world may be run on the binary operation of ones and zeros, but we humans need not be.