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Sam Johnson, regarded as the most powerful intellect of the 1700’s, was a keen observer of London politics. He saw and articulated aspects of human nature in relation to politics that seem to still ring true.

Regarding politicians who follow the party line, he observed: “men, being numbered, they know not how nor why, in any of the parties that divide a state, resign the use of their eyes and ears, and resolve to believe nothing that does not favour those whom they profess to follow…They deny the most notorious facts, contradict the most urgent truths, and persist in asserting today what they asserted yesterday, in defiance of evidence, and contempt of confutation.”

But, as for the electorate, he felt that most people are far more concerned with personal matters than with the affairs of government:

“How small, of all that human hearts endure,
That part which laws or kings can cause or cure.”

That’s it! I disown both the Republican and Democratic parties in the U.S. Their inability to work together in the national interest is subverting the economic reputation of our country.

In college, I was a young Republican, and believed in economic conservatism, with a measure of social liberalism. Thanks to the Vietnam War and the greed of conservatives, I became a staunch Democrat.

It’s increasingly become clear that neither party any longer represents the range of my beliefs and interests, and I’ve concluded that the only hope for this country is a multi-party system like much of Europe has, where one can find at least a smaller set of issues to rally support around, and then form some sort of coalition to elect a government.

We badly need a Constitutional Convention to revisit the principles upon which this nation stands. We need to get rid of the archaic and dangerous Electoral College system of undemocratically electing our Presidents. We need something like a Balanced Budget Amendment to control debt and balance revenue with spending. We need some process to protect us from the military imperialism that now characterizes our nation. Our elitist economic structure is sliding down a path towards the modern-day equivalent of the French Revolution, unless Congress, the White House and the judiciary recognize and prioritize the social values that the American people, as a democracy, hold dear. We need to protect the State from all churches, if we hope to preserve freedom of religion and freedom from religion. We need to build a new commitment to education and an enlightened and compassionate dedication to protection of the poor into our culture and economy. We need Congressional term limits, to get fresh thinking and avoid entrenched politicians. We need to control campaign contributions so our representatives are not bought and sold. We need a military draft so that our population and government stay aligned on military adventurism. And we should start an alternative domestic service draft, sort of like the WPA of the Roosevelt era, to rebuild our infrastructure and build a sense of public service among our youth.

And if I never hear the tainted words Republican or Democrat again, that’s just fine with me. I will continue to vote, but with great hesitation to support any incumbent, of either current party, in future Federal elections, unless they demonstrate a commitment to higher principles than those who are currently sold-out to dogmatic, selfish interests.

I haven’t lost faith in the American people, just in the obsolete, insular and out-of-touch political parties that pose as representative of fundamentally good people.

Back from 10 days traveling the beautifully rugged interior of Spain, party politics in the U.S. looks smaller and smaller, through the prism of a distant culture. It’s hard to say there is much to admire in either the Republican or Democratic parties these days, and even less in splinter groups. My feeling is that general apathy towards party politics is growing in the U.S., or at least it ought to be. Our obsolete Electoral College system of electing Presidents pretty much assures that a multiple party system, that might offer some hope for the disenfranchised electorate, has no chance of developing. Party politics needs to be reinvented in time to save our democracy, with vision, transparency and wisdom, rather than stale rhetoric, insider deals and narrow-minded moral parochialism, as its pillars. Meanwhile, I’m not going to the “party” — any of them.

January 2023

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