Another miserable election season approaches where good citizens are urged to hold their noses and vote for the lesser of two evils...but I'm an optimist. I think that America may be close to hitting bottom and that a new, viable third party might be about to emerge from our current mess. To understand why, let's acknowledge what we pretty much all know.
Both the Democratic and Republican parties have been hopelessly corrupted by the influence of billions of dollars in lobbying money coming from big corporations, unions and other influence groups. This combination of big money and political power has created a dysfunctional democracy that isn't serving the interest of the American people.
Instead, what we have is the naked, unashamed buying of votes. Citizens watch politicians from both major political parties do the will of lobbying groups in exchange for the cash required to win elections. The major media such as newspapers and television don't act as watchdogs against this behavior because they are beneficiaries of it, getting billions in political ad revenue.
Politicians, lobbyists and the media all thrive on the fabricated drama of Democrat versus Republican, on the theatrics of right versus left. It's a form of misdirection designed to keep the American people from noticing the bigger threat of a supposedly representative government that no longer represents anyone but the rich and powerful, no matter their party affiliation.
It's a triumph of marketing that the idea of America as a two-party system monopolized by the Democratic and Republican parties has become so ingrained in the nation's subconscious. But just as the supposed rivalry between Coke and Pepsi actually serves both companies in their quest to sell sugar water, the fabricated dichotomy between America's leading political brand names enriches both of their war chests at the cost of our country's health.
To this end, the two major political parties use the time-tested tools of advertising and focus group marketing to help control the frame of the debate so that it stays safely in the bounds of the Democratic versus Republican paradigm. They use terms like socialism and capitalism to set the supposed extremes, hoping that nobody notices that those terms have become outdated tools to describe the economies or political systems of the United States, China, or the European Union. Instead, the world is blanketed by countries that combine state control with look-the-other-way laissez-faire that benefit both the corporations and politicians.
Because citizens of the United States are force-fed the language of the Democratic / Republican machine on a daily basis by the complicit media, many people who think of themselves themselves as either conservative or liberal have a sense that something is deeply wrong in America but they don't have the vocabulary to articulate a real solution.
An obvious example of this is the Tea Party movement, who actually share the same pit of the stomach anxiety that many on the left felt during the Bush administration about the dangers of multinational corporations pulling the levers of political power. The Tea Party protesters are reduced to protesting against "socialism" to the ridicule of those on the left, while the lobbyists and politicians smoke cigars together secure that the semantic distractions are keeping the focus off the real issue for another election cycle. Look closer at the Democratic Party's derision and the Republican party's schizophrenic love-hate relationship with the Tea Party movement and you'll see a real fear of people-driven politics that isn't scripted by the political establishment. If they can't kill it, they'll corrupt and co-opt it.
The "major" third parties such as the Libertarian party or the Greens both two-party script perfectly by laying at the outer edges of acceptable debate. Because the parties represent the extremes, they have no hope of gaining significant vote totals. Their electoral impotence contributes to another key idea that allows Republicans and Democrats to perpetuate the two-party myth; namely, that a third party has no chance of ever getting elected. This is only true as long as third parties remain on the left-right axis that the political establishment has crafted.
Once you begin to expose that two-party, Democratic versus Republican paradigm for the manufactured fraud that it is, a political opportunity starts to emerge. Drop the theatrics of left versus right and you see that both parties are united in their corruption by special-interest groups. Suddenly, a real alternative founding principle becomes clear; one that could effectively rally the support of a significant number of Americans.
Our country needs a third political party based on the explicit rejection of lobbyist money as its fundamental, unwavering principle. This party sales pitch would be clear and compelling; "Unlike the Democrats and Republicans, we aren't corrupt."
Because this party will break the chains of left versus right, its policies would be unlikely to fit neatly into the current paradigm. The traditional questions of big government versus small government would be replaced by an emphasis on effective government.
People have lost faith in our current political system and with good reason. I believe we're close to a tipping point, where the incredible advances in communications technology combine with a strong anti-corruption philosophy to help build a political party that breathes life into American democracy before it's too late.