End the Duopoly: America Needs a Major Political Realignment

It's no Jedi mind trick, these are not the political parties you're looking for.

Whether Teflon Don Trump or Comrade Bernard Sanders are their respective party's nominee, their popularity in the 2016 primaries has made the need for a major realignment of political parties in the United States more apparent than ever.

The weaknesses of each party have been lain bare, their façades revealed. On the Right, the Trump takeover exemplifies a GOP that went the way of the wingnut long ago. If you're a moderate, or even halfway reasonable human being who considers themself a Republican, you now find yourself in the same position Leftists have been in for years, the party you've traditionally voted for doesn't represent you.

Weird, I know.

This isn't terribly new. The obstructionism and ultra-conservative politics of today's GOP have halted the nation's ability to even carry out basic functions like passing a budget and confirming judicial nominees. Never mind tackling bigger tasks like climate change, immigration reform, antiquated drug laws, extreme wealth and racial inequality, a failing education system, student loan debt, a crumbling infrastructure... and so much more. Ted Cruz's success is just as emblematic of the extremes the GOP has sailed to as Trump's success. It's time for reasonable members of the GOP--if such a demographic exists--to abscond from the party responsible for the degradation of not just our political discourse, but our entire political system. And make no mistake, this problem is the creation of the GOP.

If a lot of historically Republican voters honestly assessed their position on the political spectrum, and what their political interests are, they'd find there's already an organization for them to abscond to--the Democratic Party. Since I suspect a lot of Republican diehards will find that too distasteful, though, they should create a new party.

On the other hand, corporate influence over the Democratic Party (Corporacrats), its failure to lead on issues impacting marginalized communities, legalizing marijuana and, at minimum, decriminalizing other drugs, prison and criminal justice reform, curbing US imperialism, ending domestic spying, dismantling white supremacy, fighting climate change... and so many other progressive causes, has made it plain they're not the party of the Left. A realignment on the Right would open up a similar opportunity for Leftists who've felt stuck voting for the lesser of two evils, or so disenfranchised they don't bother to vote for either evil. This might mean joining the Greens, or creating a new party entirely.

These signs of the times suggest there's a real chance to bring an end to the duopoly that is US politics, and for people on the Left and Right to carry out a mass exodus from both major political parties. If the specter of a Trump nomination isn't enough to motivate this among Republicans, I'm not sure what is.

There are already hints and speculation that it might be, but I've yet to see explicit calls for it, and media personalities predicting the end of the GOP are nothing new.

Historically, this isn't unprecedented. The US has gone through major political realignments to its political parties every half century or so. We're due.

Image via Cornell Library University

If the Left and center Right pulled this off, it could leave us with four parties, Leftists, Corporacrats, Republican Classics (they'll have to pick a flashier name), and Trumplicans. The parties with some modicum of sense, Leftists, Corporacrats, and Republican Classics, could then work towards building coalitions and doing something our current political establishment has been unable to, governing.

This shift won't be easy or happen instantaneously, but it's necessary. The political status quo is a sham. At best it offers the illusion of democratic representation for the vast majority of us. We need to be bold. We need to act on our convictions rather than merely pay them lip service during presidential election seasons. By engaging in a mutual realignment the Left and Right could find ourselves more fairly represented, and end the politics of gridlock that have come to be the norm.

How many Leftists have been disillusioned with the Democratic Party, but feel stuck voting for them in the face of greater evils? How many moderate Republicans have felt disillusioned watching the obstructionist, bigoted, xenophobic, anti-intellectual base takeover their party, but continue voting for it out of tradition and misguided loyalty? There is a solution, but it will take some significant courage in the face of deep-seated societal fears of change. It's time to stand up and exploit the opening presented in 2016 to create new political realities. Without taking drastic steps, the downward spiral of our political discourse and practice will continue, leaving more voters disenfranchised and without any semblance of authentic representation. In the absence of a genuine political revolution, the least we can do is aim for a major political realignment.