Monday, November 7, 2016

How to beat a two party system at its own game?

It is almost the last day of US election cycle and Nov 8, 2016 is upon us. A bitter election cycle is getting close to over. Yet the horror is upon us. We have in front of us two of the most unpopular candidates for presidency. A whole lot of people are complaining that they don't really have good choices but a choice between lesser of the two evils. There is a disillusionment because it forces people to vote not because they like a candidate, but because they hate the other one and disillusionment has caused people to question two party system.

Even though I have my opinion, I will not delve into arguing whether this grim assessment during this election cycle is meaningful or not. After all Presidential election is all about shaping public opinion of candidates involved. And when an absolute majority of people who are voting will feel disillusioned no matter what the result, something must have gone terribly wrong and we need to ask how we reached there and how to avoid it.

In all seriousness, US political process is not exactly two party system. However there is no strong third party. But it may not be all that bad. Those who have seen parliamentary democracy with multiple parties, know that multi-party system is no panacea. It creates chaos and confusion when none of he political parties have a clear majority that leads to horse-trading and unstable alliances with ridiculous leaders.

Two party system is kind of a clever idea. Once people associate their identities in partisan ways, they become reliably committed to party rather than issues and easy to manipulate by political elite. However two party system doesn't mean that we are restricted to the choice between two candidates. Each of the political parties hold their primaries to select their presidential hopeful who are not required to be political veterans. Without further delay, here is a way to beat two party system at its own game:
1. Say you typically lean towards party A values. During primaries, see if you have a favorite candidate in party A. If YES, vote for him/her.
2. Say party A has an incumbent or you don't see that much difference between its various candidates. Check if there is someone in party B you may agree with (more or less) or hate. If yes, register for party B membership. Vote to make the one you hate lose or one you like win.
3. Next wait for general election the way you do today!

It is the step (2) above that makes it different from what we are used to doing today. Typically parties are a closed system but by registering for a party based on candidates provides a way to influence it. Key is to have fluid loyalty towards any political party. This will keep party accountable to its members rather than taking them for granted.

I understand this could not always work. Democrats who wanted Bernie to win and lunatics such as Trump in Republican party to lose, could not have it both ways simultaneously. But if so called Republicans who didn't care about the results in their party would have engaged in Democratic party primary process, we could have probably seen a different outcome from Democratic primary process.

Let us say Hillary Clinton wins 2016 election. Liberals can have a way to keep her accountable. In 2020, as an incumbent, they can move and shape the presidential candidate they will select to stand against her. It also will help tone down extreme right rhetoric of Republican nominees and they will gravitate towards the center.

This has similar effect as having a ranking system for electoral polls. I am quite certain that if a million plus people in both parties do this, it will change the dialogue in this country deadlocked between two extremes! Also party platforms will become softer rather than appealing to extreme elements of each party! It can't be such a bad deal I guess!!