I read this response from a woman named Lucy on sodahead.com where the question was asked “Do you feel the two party system is working in America?” Her answer is one I believe is shared by many:
I just want the parties to MEAN something again. Right now, they’re the same party wearing two different costumes.
There are times where I have to say I agree. And so apparently does Rebecca Hamilton. I read something she recently wrote that so brilliantly and articulately states everything I want to say but am incapable of writing down. I would love to post the entire thing verbatim. I don’t care what party you belong to or if you belong to none, you owe it to yourself to read what Rebecca says here. You’ll want to read it all. It’s an open-eyed and honest assessment of our two-party system today.
Don’t bend your knee to the R and the D. Register for whichever party, or as an independent, as you please. Vote according to your own understanding and conscience. I have no desire to influence you in that. But do not confuse your party’s trumpeting claims of moral superiority with actual moral superiority. Do not, ever, take the cross down off your mantelpiece and put the Republican elephant or the Democratic donkey in its place.
Both parties actively encourage such idolatry. They do it because they benefit from it. They win elections with the votes of people who slavishly follow them and believe in them as if they were Christ Himself. Winning elections is how political parties get power. Power is how they control the purse strings and the facilities of government. Power is the payback for lying to you.
They get power by lying to you. They keep it by almost but not quite fulfilling their promises. Holding you on a leash of unfulfilled expectations by always trying but failing to do the things they promised when you voted for them is axiomatic to making sure that you keep coming back to them again and again. If they actually did what they said they would do, the vote-getting engine would go dead. It takes showmanship and adept political choreography to create an unending series of cliff-hanger battles that will keep you focused and rooting for your team.
It also requires an excuse for repeatedly failing to deliver. Political parties have to hide the obvious. They can’t just say, sure we’re the party of life, but even after 40 years of trying, we’re still too dumb to find a way to overturn Roe. The other guys can’t say, of course we’re the party of the American worker, but we’re such idiots that after 40 years of deep thinking we still can’t come up with a way to stop exporting your jobs. Even the most besotted kool-aid-drinking party loyalist might gag on this.
Please, read it all. Rebecca is a member of the Oklahoma House of Representatives and a Catholic. I had read a few of her posts before and had assumed I knew her party affiliation. It wasn’t until I read far down deep into the comments on the post I linked to that I learned what party she is registered with. I like that I was surprised.
I’ll interject with one example to back up what she says. I hear Democrats harping and screeching every election that a vote for a Republican is a “vote for theocracy” and that Republicans will overturn Roe v. Wade. This is the biggest load of baloney I’ve ever heard. If this were true wouldn’t it have happened between 2000-2006 when Republicans were in charge of the presidency and both houses of Congress? If the Democrats were able to ram through Obamacare without a single, solitary Republican vote of support two years ago why didn’t Republicans create a theocracy or outlaw abortion? Because it gives them the ability to continue to send out scary letters begging for money, and allows for Democrats to do the same. Eliminating actual problems in this country is not in the interest of either party and they know it.
What Hamilton says was echoed at the Republican National Convention last Wednesday night by New Mexico’s governor, Susana Martinez. I first heard this story when Jay Nordlinger wrote about Martinez in this Impromptus column. I’m glad she said it again as it bears repeating.
I fear some of our leaders today have lost the courage to stand up. What we have now are politicians. They won’t offer real plans, and only stand up when they want to blame someone else.
And I don’t say that just because a Democrat is in the White House, I was a Democrat for many years, so were my parents.
Before I ran for district attorney, two Republicans invited my husband and me to lunch, and I knew a party switch was exactly what they wanted. So, I told Chuck, “We’ll be polite, enjoy a free lunch, and then say good-bye.” But we talked about issues — they never used the words Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal. We talked about many issues, like welfare, is it the way of life or hand up? Talked about size of government, how much should it tax families and small businesses? And when we left that lunch, we got in the car and I looked over at Chuck and said, “I’ll be damned. We’re Republicans.”
I honestly believe that if more of us did this – dropped the labels Republican, Democrat, conservative and liberal – and instead walked through the issues one at a time, we’d drop our prideful defense mechanisms and find we’ve more common ground than we thought.
I’ve had people ask me how I can believe “so rigidly” the tenets of Catholicism but allow for nuances in politics. It’s simple, really. Politics allows for nuance because it is not eternal. It is not based upon any foundational, unchanging truths. The Democratic party of today is not the same party my mom or her parents belonged to. The Republican party isn’t either. The times change, and words are redefined. The word liberal as it was understood in 1960 is not the same today. People may still be using these words and stuck in the habit of using them, but they are not the same.
God? He’s eternal. He never changes.
Truth never does.
Next up: Part 3 of 3 – The courage to be counter-cultural.
©2012 Jeff A Walker.