Byrd: There's room for a third political choice
Last weekend while walking the Dickinson State University lawn taking in the Arts Roundup with my wife and son, we were approached by a gentleman asking for our signature on a petition to keep the Libertarian party on the state's ballot. We joined the growing list of signatures, believing that North Dakota's -- and the nation's -- greatest chance for success will be a result of choice.
America is, for the most part, led by a two-party system. On the right, Republicans. On the left, Democrats. The nation's political system is designed to keep these two parties at the top. The rest must fight tooth and nail just to get on a ballot only to then be excluded from the national debate scene.
That exclusion, coupled with a lack of coverage from the national media, sets any other party up for failure, even in this day and age of widespread Internet use. But people are growing increasingly weary of the two-party system, primarily because it has brought Congress to a grinding halt and it has produced less-than-desirable candidates for the presidency.
As it pertains to Congress -- which has an approval rating somewhere around 10 percent -- Liz Fedor of MinnPost.com wrote in June 2012 that "Americans are losing faith in the two-party political system, because it is producing too many elected officials who make partisan speeches instead of leading. Congress is Exhibit A in showcasing this political malady."
Eighty-nine percent of respondents in a Debate.org polling say that America's two-party system is flawed. Respondent RC1201 wrote, "Who really falls 100 (percent) into one side of the two main parties? That's what I thought. Politics now is focused on keeping people in power and not solving problems. Why can't someone be conservative on some issues and a little more liberal on other issues (or vice versa)?
"The two-party system creates hate and division in our country. We don't get anything done because it has become a popularity contest of two extremes. They do not let moderates within their party have a chance. It's all about winning and election, not working to help our country."
On the other side of the argument, w00tboycomic writes, "I do not feel that America's two-party system is flawed. I do not believe that it is the system that is flawed. I believe it is the people in the system themselves that are flawed. Politics in general has become a popularity contest instead of a government. When government first came about it America it was supposed to be for the people by the people. The problem now is that the government no longer works for the people, it is now the people that work for the government. More like a dictatorship then a democratic republic."
These respondents may have clicked a different answer, but they're arguments boiled down to the same point: Politics in America has become a popularity contest and all players in the two-party system are focused on one goal -- getting elected.
Do we need any more proof other than to look to Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who when asked why Republicans were suddenly concerned with reforming the nation's immigration laws said it comes down to one thing -- elections.
Republicans took a spanking on the national stage last year when Democrat Barack Obama was reelected over the GOP's candidate, Mitt Romney. Since then, all we hear about is the Republican party's attempt to dissect its mistakes and its need to revamp itself to seem more appealing to women, youth and minorities.
Ask some people and they might tell you Republicans are viewed as crusty old Bible-thumping fuddy-duddies stuck in their ways and leaning right so heavily they'll soon be perpendicular to the horizon. Ask others and they might say Democrats are viewed as flip-flop wearing "all we need is love" socialists so in love with saving the earth they're willing to tax you into the same poverty they're trying to save you from.
Why can't I be down the middle? Why can we not support a fiscally conservative attitude while not giving two sticks about what happens in our neighbors' bedroom? Or, on the flip side, why can we not care about who marries who while supporting a spend-it-like-there's-no-tomorrow attitude?
I believe there are more political views than what's offered by the Democrats or the Republicans. It's largely why I voted for Libertarian candidate Gary Johnson, a former Republican governor of New Mexico, in the last presidential election. I didn't agree 100 percent with what his party wants to accomplish if in control of our federal government, but I agreed with him much more than Obama or Romney. I can proudly say I cast a vote for a candidate whom I supported, not just cast a vote so I could take one from the other guy.
Sometimes I wonder if there is a two-party system left. Can anyone spot the difference between the Obama administration and the Bush administration? Is there really only one party with the national bickering meant to make us believe a two-party system still exists? Maybe that's why some of us think the two-party system is failing.
Either way, it's hard to argue against the fact that America's been brought to her knees by the current political system. Everyone who signed the petition -- regardless of whether you're a Republican, Democrat or any other party affiliate -- offered their country a hand to help her stand upright, tall and proud.
As someone who is nonpartisan, I thank you for your support to offer choice in the state of North Dakota.
Klark Byrd is the news editor for The Dickinson Press. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org or tweet him at klarkbyrd.