Bob Franken

Congress: Time for the Declaration of Independents

Maybe this is the year. After all the decades of lip-service to the idea of third party or independent candidates, perhaps the time has come. Heaven knows the Democrats and Republicans have done their part to make the idea appealing.

The two major parties have way more in common than their loyalists would like to admit. There is jealousy, dogmatic infighting, downright buffoonery. Then we have egotistical turf battles, corruption, incompetence and general chaos. And let’s not forget the lineup of mediocre or worse hacks the Big Two select as candidates. For those who celebrate bi-partisanship, there is plenty of it.

For those non-partisans, there is frequently little to do but look on in disgust and hold their noses when they vote. Or vote “No” by staying home.

Think what you will about President Obama. As Candidate Obama he seemed to offer something new. Whether he has lived up to his promise is the subject of intense debate these days with many feeling like they were had.

In any case, he’s not on any ballots this year. Instead, its hundreds of lesser lights from the party organizations, offering what all-too-many consider to be dismal choices…the bore versus the extremist, the bland versus the nutcase.

No wonder large percentages reject The Dem and Gop labels. They are unwilling to choose between parties which have demonstrated that about all they’re good at is fundraising.

Maybe it’s gotten obvious enough that alternatives would have a fighting chance. The self-proclaimed “Independents” might actually be able to overcome the Big Two’s organized money machines. They could also find supporters with the wherewithal and expertise to successfully challenge the unfair monopolistic legal obstacles that often make it so hard for an outsider to take on the entrenched ballot system.

This is not about the fringe candidates, but those among the ranks of attractive, creative, intelligent citizens who are serious about solving our problems. There are millions who simply find the existing setup obsolete and might be willing to step forward.

Maybe enough could actually win that they would force the parties to change the way they run Congress. They might require Democratic and Republican leaders to make common sense concessions to them.

The ultimate goal would be to form a third caucus that somewhere in the future could actually compete for control of the House and Senate.
That’s unrealistic right away, but maybe things have gotten bad enough that the unattached will have enough initial success to inspire many more to go their separate ways to the voters the next time around. We could end up with a certified “Movement”

The usual argument against such wildness, is that our two-party system provides the political stability that keeps this nation’s government on an even keel. Unfortunately, we may have arrived at a time where stability has turned into inert unresponsiveness.

With the world moving at a rapid pace, if a country is standing still, it’s moving backward. Maybe some alternative approaches might end the slide.

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