"The idea of revolution is to take action. The goal of revolution is positive change."
-Thomas Richard Harry Boom! A Revolting Situation
BOOM! is a tough-minded eye-opening appraisal of American Democracy that highlights serious lack of choice in today's political arena. Party identification is unraveling; increasingly voters opt not to be identified with them. Nothing has yet developed to fill this void. The result: millions of political "Independents" with no place to turn come election time except to these two Parties they apparently reject. Today these non-aligned conservative and liberal Americans surpass either Democrats or Republicans. Contrary to some, Independents do represent a powerful political potential-they just don't realize it yet. A plurality of our electorate, they have no option other than a least-worst political choice. That seems a democratic absurdity. That's akin to political coercion, at best; political disenfranchisement, at worst.
BOOM! clarifies the primary historical (and on-going) antagonism in American politics and identifies what may well be the political objective of Independents. It then walks its readers through how this plurality of political orphans might achieve this goal. It's an option that doesn't rely on the failed ideological approach of today's duopoly. It could reinvigorate politics and change the direction of government towards achieving a more balanced outcome-all within our existing electoral system!
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BOOM! A Revolting SituationThe failure of ideological politics, The disappointment of ideological government
By Thomas Richard Harry
iUniverse, Inc.Copyright © 2012 Thomas Richard Harry
All right reserved.
Chapter OneIt's a Matter of Choice
Choice? What do you mean a matter of choice? Americans have choice—all the choice they need. Good Lord, people, why are you always complaining about the lack of political choice? If you are conservatives, you have the Republican Party and all the third-parties of that leaning. Liberals have the Democratic Party and its further-left alternatives. It's worked this way for over a hundred years now. What more do you need?"
"Yes, sir, we know. But, that's the problem. We no longer have much confidence in or are satisfied with the results of the governments they provide, either of them"
"I don't understand. If you don't like them, vote for someone else. There are options."
"Well, yes, there are. Most all of them though are more ideologically extreme than the Big-Two. True, most of us call ourselves conservatives or liberals. The problem is that we're not all conservatives or liberals to the same degree; certainly not to the degree the Parties or those more extreme must view us. We don't feel they're really representing "us" when handed the reins of government; just that they have used us to get there. We believe that needs to change."
"Then, as voters, you need to let them know your feelings about that."
"We have; clearly we have. We no longer register to vote as Party supporters. This exodus from their midst doesn't seem to change anything. They don't seem to get the point, which is, they may be our only electoral options, but they don't represent our preferences for the outcome of government any longer. You might say that under present circumstances, politically, all of us are being held captive to serve their political ends; used simply as fodder in their never-ending battle with the opposition. They both seem to be only for themselves. Their only real objective is to defeat their ideological nemesis. We, Americans more generally, are being pretty much ignored. Politics, rather than a means to an end, has for them become an end in itself. Think about it."
"Well, no matter which one we elect, all they do is fight with one another about what to do and how to do it. The result is little or nothing of substance gets accomplished. They both are so busy pursuing political ends that governing for most of the people at least most of the time doesn't happen. All we detect in Washington is motion imitating action.
Some call us Independents, others Centrists. Okay, it doesn't really matter what we're called. The point is that we—today a plurality of voters—have no practical choice in our political arena other than the duopoly we continue to indicate is unacceptable. Come time to vote, that's it. We're dealt the same old unchanging political hand come every election. Of what value is the ballot box, you might reasonably ask, if the vote, in effect, represents a Morton's fork, a dismal choice between two unattractive options (Would you prefer to be dispatched by hanging or decapitation?). Today, no matter which one we might opt for we can expect the same result: unacceptable government performance."
"Well, what are you looking for? More bipartisanship, or what?"
"No, bipartisanship is a myth. It won't happen. Absent moderation, ideologically it can't. And neither Party, or at least its leadership, is what today, by any stretch of the imagination, you would call "moderate." What we would like is a political option crafted, or aimed, primarily with us in mind; towards us voters who have already indicated we want (the Country needs) greater choice come election time."
"And what might that look like, if I might ask?"
"Of course. For starters, like an option that promotes government that isn't primarily based on ideology. A political choice that emphasizes the greatest good for the greatest number; one that at least offers the promise to govern in the interests of all of the people at least most of the time, and most of the people all of the time. For the existing (ideological) Parties, this is not possible; it's questionably even their intent."
"And you really believe something along such a utopian philosophy is possible, politically, here in America?"
"We don't think it's either utopian or believe it's impossible, given the continuing loss of support for the two Parties. Face it: As agents for change, we represent an elephant in the room—a huge elephant—and it's time we're recognized for what we are. We would certainly like to see someone at least propose what we are suggesting for our consideration. Remember, on the numbers alone, we have the upper hand. All we lack is for a Moses to lead us out of this political captivity"
"Good luck with that one, ladies and gentlemen! Our guys will never let it happen."
"Okay, if the exodus underway isn't enough to make our point, then they will probably witness a revolution."
Chapter TwoA Revolting Situation
Now, that's a little scary. Like me, you probably never considered yourself a revolutionary, and would resist any such suggestion. After all, we're peaceful law-abiding citizens. Amen! We proudly think of ourselves that way. In this connection, most of us are what I describe as political conscientious objectors, and you know, that's exactly what our political leadership counts on us being: pretty servile, non-combative. Yes, we (most of us) do vote; some of us do go to political meetings and rallies but if you think about it, our options in all this are pretty limited. It seems to be an either or situation we face. And knuckling under, or grinning and bearing it, among those narrow options is about as radical as most of us get as we frustratingly express our political feelings and inclinations. Nevertheless, today that's increasingly proving not to be enough, not if we're serious about wanting better from government. Some have already begun to publically express dissatisfaction with what politics gives us today: Political Independents. If you really think about it, it's a pretty revolting situation.
In an effort to try to assure that what we really do get from our political representatives, government considering the people—that's all of the people, not just some of the people—I want you to reconsider your own political conscientious objector status; I want to exhort you to "get involved;" join a political revolution—in your own self-interest! That's what it's gonna take to accomplish this. Actually (most of you probably didn't realize this), in a still rather subtle fashion, one is already underway, believe it or not! That's what we're really all about here: Introducing you to this developing revolution, and I urge you, nay, I exhort you, to take up this political struggle. By exhorting I mean exactly that: to encourage or provoke you to action, whatever it takes. That's the goal here, to convince you of this necessity: that your proper place is with your fellow political dissidents:
How can a situation like that be, in a liberal popular democracy like ours?
Consider this a manual, a "How-To" reference of what is needed to carry out the idea (take action) and goal (positive change) of a successful political revolution. A revolution is the overthrow of an established regime or political system by the people governed. It's most often a forcible one, and I picture the one proposed here would be, in its own way, forcible. It would have to be, because those being opposed are not about to fade away; they won't without a struggle cede political power to others.
Well, it is the case: Almost forty percent of America's voters aren't pleased, or satisfied, with their political options when going to the polls! That's a rather sad commentary on our democracy. Wouldn't you be tempted to say, given this situation, that these forty percent are effectively disenfranchised; that satisfactory representative democracy is being denied them?
The powers that be have developed an impressive array of defenses against just this possibility, and to date, have been successful. All recent attempts to defeat, compete with or even influence today's duopoly that controls our political system (and hence our governments) have proven in vain. Such efforts have been akin to multiple Joshuas circling walled cities blowing their horns, hoping for the walls to come tumbling down. It may have happened once, but successful attempts since then are unrecorded.
If not disenfranchised, aside from the few that opt to vote for today's third-parties, they are effectively coerced into voting for one of two alternative political representatives they have publically rejected for political affiliation. That sure seems a form of effective political captivity. You seldom hear it put this way, but that's the reality of the situation: As they say, a choice between two bad alternatives is hardly a choice at all ("Would you prefer to die by hanging, or by decapitation?").
Today's political elites have become overconfident and arrogant in their belief that their positions are unassailable. That the only type of defense they have to put up is against each other in their never ending power-struggle for political control. The People—powerless in the misguided view of those who represent them—are simply taken for granted. History, they believe, has validated this view. Perhaps it has. Today, however, they are wrong in their continued confidence of an unassailable position. If truth be known, it grows weaker with each passing day. A revolution is underway. Look closely and you can actually see it amassing on the horizon. Just consider the trends of what the people think of them. Here's a snapshot of Americans' view of the two-party system today, in terms of how well it defines issues and provides choices for voters.
Now, that sure looks like less than what most people would call confidence or popular support for the Parties themselves: Less than a quarter of those polled view the Parties as "working fairly well." And look at the supporters of the Parties themselves, the followings they have as they compete with each other to run government:
Neither Party enjoys a majority—never has: The Republicans' support represent but a quarter of American voters, the Democrats at their highest in the past forty years only about 39% of votes. Clearly, both are minority-interest parties pretending to speak for the majority of Americans, or do they even make that claim? Just how long a political group can (or should) continue to go unchallenged given the expressed opinions of Americans on the above issues is a critical question. It's a question neither of these two parties wants discussed. You can bet they aren't going to bring it up, and you can also bet they aren't going to make it easy for others to bring up. Given their defenses in place, they give little but lip-service to correcting what appears so clearly in need of correcting. The "game" goes on for them, secure in their systemic citadels.
Today the handle put on these forty or so percent of Independent voters is that they are "swing voters," voters who simply can't make up their mind who to vote for, giving their votes to whichever of the two parties has the most compelling campaign pitch to attract their attention.
But the time has come for correction, for positive change; it's past due most would probably agree, and if it can only come by revolution, as seems to be the case, then this approach seems completely justified, morally, ethically and politically; a just revolution.
Electorally, Independents are considered important, worthy of consideration by the Parties, for exactly one day every election cycle! Neither party wants to own them, necessarily, just to rent them for that day; just enough to win the election. Once the race is over, these all-important "swingers", this plurality of America's voters, has no place at the political table; no representation in any coalition implied by the candidates during the campaign; little or no further consideration by government. They are simply electorally used, politically abused.
It's justified because the political status quo is loath to accept that the Republican/Democrat Duopoly which for so long has dominated our politics, has fallen out of favor—way out of favor—with so many Americans. The irony is that we do have a mechanism for correction here, but our electoral system itself hinders it. And as that system is for all intents and purposes under the control of the Duopoly, it's very, very difficult to make any changes. Sounds circular here, doesn't it.
Clearly, there is something wrong with this picture. Is this effective representative democracy? If so many of us can see the problem, why can't they? Oh, I think they can. The problem is we have an elephant in the room few if any in the political establishment dares to take seriously. But they see it! So change is called for; it can only be put-off for so long by those who stand to lose by it.
The revolution will be aggressive. But aggressive does not implicitly or explicitly imply violence. True, our political history has more than a few instances of such conflicts, but we have to believe (at least want to believe) we have by this time gone past such brutish inclinations.
There are continuing protests by both politicos and some academics that there really is no such thing as an Independent voter; that they are all, or at least mostly, just "closet" Democrats and Republicans, and they support such a claim by the fact that is how most of them vote, come election time. Now this claim seems to be a classic "Dah moment:" Ask yourself one simple question in this connection: What practical choice do they have? And by practical choice means today's third- parties considered. To date, third-parties have not been contenders in American politics, with just a few—very few—exceptions. So the fiction of Independents is promoted; denial is the name of the game. Somehow they must be trying to convince themselves that if they just ignore this widely recognized elephant in the room, it, will go away! Or more probably, that it may not go away, but it won't somehow evolve, won't coalesce into what we might call a political bloc and therefore become more of a concrete threat to the status quo.
Make no mistake. The Duopoly, by its ideological strait-jackets, not only will not, but in all fairness to it cannot, compromise. It's a matter of principle, the players will say. So given their holding of the high ground—in the sense of its defensive electoral position, not of any moral qualities—a revolution is unavoidable. This electoral uprising will be the result of the long-term plurality of individual American voters being shown, and recognizing, that he/she—as a declared Independent voter—is not alone; that he/she is a potentially important cog in an effort to effect positive change; that his/ her vote can help correct what so many perceive as in need of correcting: the results of government.
And so, duopolistic denial goes on; the fiction gets perpetuated. Reality recedes in the face of desperation. In a political system dominated by two parties, the probability that there is a political influence rather larger than the two who are accustomed to being alone in the room is an unwelcome one, so far as they are concerned. Even for them, it's truly a revolting situation!
We cannot be challenged they reassure themselves, so just ignore it! This perceived opposition isn't real, only a fiction of our imagination. It's not really there. But, it is there; there really is a (threatening) elephant in the room. It is today huge, growing from about twenty-five percent of voters at mid-twentieth century to about forty percent today. The elephant continues to grow, demanding an ever greater effort to downplay and, more importantly, ignore its significance. Today, it's not possible to ignore its presence; not only because you can see it in the numbers, hear about it in the news and register its consequences in elections. Political Independents are everywhere; this is a nation-wide elephant! It will not forever be denied.
Excerpted from BOOM! A Revolting Situation by Thomas Richard Harry Copyright © 2012 by Thomas Richard Harry. Excerpted by permission of iUniverse, Inc.. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Prelude Belfast, Northern Ireland....................1
Chapter I It's a Matter of Choice....................7
Chapter II A Revolting Situation....................10
Chapter III Government: For Better or for Worse—For Whom?....................18
Chapter IV An American Journey....................30
Chapter V Looking Back a Little Further....................40
Chapter VI Catching Up With Today....................45
Chapter VII Digesting Almost Two Hundred Years....................57
Chapter VIII Liberalism and Conservatism....................64
Chapter IX Republicans, Democrats & Independents....................75
Chapter X The Rising Visibility of the Independent Voter....................105
Chapter XI Independent Parties and Support Groups Today....................117
Chapter XII The Independent Voter: A Profile and a Purpose....................130
Chapter XIII An Independent Political Option: A Ballot-Box Revolt of the Disenfranchised ... and Possibly the Rest of Us....................152
Chapter XIV The Superstructure: How It Fits Together....................159
Chapter XV Leadership and Character....................180
Chapter XVI An Independent's View of the Propriety (or Impropriety) of Special-Interest Influences on Government....................188
Chapter XVII An Independent Tax Solution....................205
Chapter XVIII Social Security....................228
Chapter XIX Working Poverty: A Minimum Wage Issue....................243
Chapter XX And There's More to Resolve....................26
5 Chapter XXI The Legitimate Scope and Proper Purpose of Government....................284
Chapter XXII The Results of the Revolution....................306
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