NOTE: This is not a "let's bash America" thread. It's not a "You goddamn yanks are the cause of all of the world's problems" thread. It's about the pros/cons of a two-party system, and my views on what could be a very powerful and appealing third party. If you want to whine about how America ruined your life and is the Great Satan, please do it in another thread.
During the last few weeks, I've been bothered more and more by the lack of quaility candidates running for office. Today, at the polls, it made me sick. I looked over the ballot and realized that in the 5 or 6 real races (ones like the clerk of courts running unopposed don't count), I could only endorse one candidate, and even then only mildly. There were a few incumbents worth voting against, but in most of those cases, the guy running against him was just as bad; sometimes they're worse.
If it wasn't for a constitutional amendment on the ballot, I may not have bothered voting at all - the mostly OK candidate is never going to be ousted from office anyway; I don't think I saw a single ad for his opponent - and Wisconsin TV is nothing but political ads running up to an election. The elections around here have been particularily nasty this time around. Most ads don't even tell you what "their guy" is for, just how awful the other guy is. I probably say this every election, but I think this has been the dirtiest election cycle I can remember.
As I see it, there are two main themes to political issues: fiscal and social. I find that many people are fiscally conservative, yet socially liberal. These people, including myself, are forced to choose which of those two are more important in a given race. There are many parties that claim to fit this description, but two main problems inhibit their rise to power.
First, minor political parties have a bad habit of infighting. Divisions over one issue can lead to the party splitting up or stalling as the party leaders fight for power. See the Reform Party for just how bad it can get.
Second, they also tend to be a bit extreme. Take the libertarians, for example. Being fiscally responsible is one thing, abolishing all labor laws is quite another. Personal freedoms are great, but I think most people have a hard time voting for someone who's party endorses legalization of all controlled substances.
What America needs is a viable third-party that is:
a) Fiscally responsible (smaller, more efficient government)
b) Socially liberal (smaller, less intrusive government, more personal freedoms)
c) Mid-to-centrist on both a) and b)
d) Not run by nut-jobs
If a party like this got on it's feet, I think we'd see moderates from both sides run to it, and America would be better off with a third voice in the debate.* It would build momentum if the party members could work together in spite of minor differences, and put together a platform that those of us who are sick of choosing between the lesser of two evils can really get behind and get excited about. Political apathy is rampant; I believe part of that is caused by years and years of inept/corrupt candidates, many of whom are chosen by commitee.
Would you like to see a similar party, or do you prefer the two parties we have now? How about a third party with a completely different platform?
* Debate in the theoretical sense, most of them suck at it. Have you ever watched C-SPAN when they're filming Congress? Most of these people can hardly argue themselves out of a paper bag, yet we're paying them to debate potential laws and policies that will govern our lives.