Thursday, April 27, 2006

Two Party System: Breaking the Cycle

My rage increases around election time, but it's really not limited to November. I know I am not alone in bemoaning our nation's two party system on an almost daily basis.

Most of us, of course, identify ourselves as Republicans, Democrats or independents, but the reality is that our two main parties can seldom encapsulate who we are and what we believe. I have Republican friends who can't stand the current state of affairs and are sage enough to blame their own party instead of nation-hating liberals.

I consider myself a progressive, but am often mystified at the proposals that come from liberal elitist factions within the Democratic Party.

Left or right, we are often able to come together in our desire for more choices. Many of us find ourselves, regardless of which candidate we support, voting for the lesser of two evils every November and wishing it weren't so. Is that really a democracy? One of the principle tenets of democracy is full information - without it, we are unable to make informed choices. This peripheral participation only increases our frustration and weakens our desire to partake in the process.

We disagree on how to handle the problem, but we all know that it comes down to money. Candidates in major parties are able to raise large sums of money. This allows them to get their message out, which makes them viable, increases their media coverage, which then amplifies their fundraising, which leads to events, which leads to more press, and so on and so on. It is a victory cycle for the established party candidate; a vicious cycle for the independent. In the end, it is the voters who lose.

Thank you, Judy Ettenhofer and The Capital Times, for breaking the cycle and running a story on Green Party candidate Rae Vogeler and her campaign for U.S. Senate. She may not win and not all of your readers may vote for her. But we learned that she has compassion, political skill, and experience. We learned that she is a caring wife, mother, worker and organizer who believes in quality education and tackling our health care crisis - real issues about which we all care. We learned that she is a quality candidate who deserves a chance to lock horns with our current senator for the chance to represent us.

The open and honest debate we all deserve may not happen, but the political process is richer, and we as citizens more engaged, when we have the opportunity to learn more about those who offer us the alternatives we crave, but seldom have the resources to make us aware of their presence.

(Article published, The Capital Times, 4/25/06)

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