Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Spite Which Hand?

We're in an election year, and I'm pretty thoroughly jaded on politics so I wouldn't normally bring it up, but the 2012 presidential race is really getting under my skin.

I've said before (maybe even here) that the two-party system is a detriment to the voting process in that it creates a false dichotomy: you're either a Republican or a Democrat and follow the party line. What about the rest of us? My father in law is a heavily left-leaning Democrat and  a gun owner. I'm an independent who'd almost certainly be called left-leaning, but I'm for the continuation of the death penalty. Most people's opinions don't fall neatly into one category, but the current political climate promotes scooping up a handful of issues and tossing them into a red or blue bin.

A typical argument for not introducing further parties (not that it's as easy as declaring that a new one should exist, or that a single body is responsible for that decision) is that the more groups there are to receive votes, the fewer satisfied voters there are. That is, if there were, say, five parties, and support between them was divided almost evenly, you could end up with nearly 80% of the voter base casting a ballot for a losing candidate. And that thereby 80% of voters would be denied their choice for president.

I'm not sure how that logic can be defended when even in a very contentious year such as 2008 [url=http://www.infoplease.com/ipa/A0781453.html]only a little over half of the voting-age population[/url] could be bothered to turn out. Consider further that between the major two political parties, [url=http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_presidential_election,_2008#Ballot_access]each only received about half of the popular vote[/url] (Democrats/Republicans, slightly over and slightly under, respectively), meaning that Barack Obama was elected with the support of about 25% of the population. That's not exactly a ringing endorsement. Of either candidate, for that matter.

Realistically fully half of the population doesn't care enough to vote, for whatever reason. Almost as if it doesn't seem worth it or perhaps that they don't really believe they're being represented. The last point is debatable, but the adversarial culture infesting politics these days is not. What else explains [/url=http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/03/01/analysis-republicans-sett_0_n_480801.html] the record use of the Filibuster by Republicans since 2008?[/url] There's not even the grudging respect you would hope that elected officials might show one another, just a willingness to drive the other party into the ground even at the cost of taking the country with it.