American politics is about to change. Not because of Donald Trump, per se, or Bernie Sanders. It's about to change because Americans are fed up with decades of division, discord and political paralysis that promise only to get worse in the years to come, no matter who gets elected President this time around.
The rules and procedures that determine today how we nominate and elect candidates for federal office absolutely guarantee that the fighting will continue, and even escalate. In fact the present system actually rewards elected leaders if they don't work together! They quickly learn that if they do choose to "collaborate" with the other side, they have a good chance of getting voted out of office the next time around. That's how it works today!
Some people say our leaders only reflect the division that exists in our nation. That's true, but the political system has contributed mightily to making that far worse, continually stoking the fears and differences of the electorate into a fever pitch for political gain.
This year's Presidential election promises to be one of the most bitter and divisive in our history. What do you think will happen when it's all over? Do you really believe the parties will suddenly start getting along? Think about it. Two seconds after the victor takes the Oath of Office, the party that loses will start undercutting them with the next election in mind. You'll be able to hear the Bell. Ding! Round One!
Forget about fixing the real problems in the nation. We get to look forward to another four years of bitter in-fighting, government shutdowns, dysfunctional leadership, deeper division and growing hatred between Americans who can't count on their leaders or institutions to bring them together.
So no matter who wins the election, the nation is still going to lose!
We need and deserve better. We are dealing with historic challenges now, driven by the extraordinary pace of technology, a cultural revolution, the threat of terrorism, dramatic climate change, and globalization of our economy, to name just a few extraordinary issues that demand our urgent attention. We desperately need our government to work.
If we can't find ways to bridge our deep partisan divide, and get on with the business of running the country, we will continue to stagnate at home, and our standing as a world leader will be in jeopardy, if it isn't already.
Worst case, we risk destroying our country, one fight at a time. The anger that voters feel today is just the beginning. If nothing changes, it will boil over eventually in ways we can't easily control. You can see clear signs of that already. And history shows that when citizens lose confidence in the ability of their leaders to help them in difficult times, out of desperation they can turn to very dangerous alternatives.
We have to begin making changes in our system that will enable this nation to govern itself once again.
So what's the first step?
Well, we certainly can't look to either major party for the reforms we need. They are too vested in the way things are right now, a system which preserves their power, protects entrenched incumbents, and allows the wealthiest 1 percent of Americans to continue to exert unfair influence over candidates and elections. There's no way they'll champion new rules that will weaken their duopoly.
If real systemic change is going to happen, it'll have to come from an independent third party, one committed to giving government back to the people.
Americans are ready for it. They know the system is broken. That's why sixty percent now say a new political party is necessary to break the logjam in governance. And those who call themselves "independents" today represent the largest "party" of all, 43 percent , compared to those who identify themselves as Democrats (30 percent) and Republicans (26 percent).
It won't be easy and it will take time. The two-party system is deeply rooted. But we can make a difference if we begin now, pursuing reforms on a state-by-state, grassroots level. That will gradually clear the way for more nonpartisan candidates to get nominated and elected, and allow them, once in office, to put the best interests of the nation first and work with their colleagues to get things done.
If you share these concerns or would like to learn more, I'd like to invite you to join our new Facebook discussion group set up to explore and discuss the third party alternative. I welcome your participation and ideas.