It is no doubt true that the state of politics/governmental affairs reflects the relative ignorance or enlightenment of the populace. In that sense any political action is in effect a work of folly, in that the general tide will rise or fall according to the sum of its parts. At the risk of being a Don Quixote to the contrary, I would argue that the time is ripe for a new third party in American politics.
The two major parties, despite their obvious differences, are largely monolithic on a number of key issues. What follows here is a partial personal wish list of what a new party would encompass, in terms of having a combination of proper key planks and a broad enough appeal to move forward. There are only two third parties remotely on the political radar at present. The Green Party, which has many righteous planks but is mired in P.C. causes of the left, and the Libertarian Party, which is excellent on personal liberties but completely out to lunch on most other issues.
A simple proposal is to close all foreign military bases and use our military solely for the actual defense of the United States. I’ll reference Chalmers Johnson’s "The Sorrows of Empire: Militarism, Secrecy, and the End of the Republic", and the late Smedley Butler’s "War is a Racket", as good reads in this regard, not to mention any of the excellent works by any number of writers from the political left, such as Noam Chomsky and Howard Zinn. Even the libertarian CATO Institute will speak eloquently on the overspending on "defense". Our empire of over 700 foreign bases, none having anything to do with the actual defense of the citizenry, and our national habit of bipartisan offensive wars under the false rubric of defense and/or humanitarianism, have cost the taxpayers a fortune, eroded our nation morally, and led to hatred of Americans throughout the globe.
Let us also eliminate all governmental foreign aid. While most Americans overestimate the amount of foreign aid, this plank would be a popular item that neither the Democrats nor Republicans would support. As John Perkins documents in his "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man", the bulk of foreign aid never goes to people in need. Rather, it goes to prop up regimes favorable to our national leaders. It is best at the governmental level to attend to the unmet human needs here at home.
After returning the military to our territory boundaries, let us use the military to secure our border with Mexico. Illegal immigration has been a source of cheap labor for the contributors to the politicians. An influx of illegal immigrants imposes a burden on the taxpayers with respect to basic services. We cannot raise the bar for quality of life for the citizenry while allowing an unregulated influx. Pull the charters of large corporations that knowingly hire illegal aliens (as Wal-Mart did with many janitors), and auction off their assets for the public good.
Let us ban the CIA and any governmental agency from meddling in the affairs of foreign nations. Close the renamed "School of the Americas". We should also close the prison at Guantanamo Bay, eliminate any and all participation in torture, and abide by the Geneva Conventions. This is basic human decency, but a bit much for the many sociopaths determining policy in our federal government.
Single-payer national health is a necessity. The leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. is inability to pay medical bills. Health care is not on a par with selling automobiles or diamonds. It is time to get the parasitic middlemen of insurance companies, etc. out of the mix, and ensure quality health care to all Americans. It would also be wise to include all "alternative" therapies, as traditional medicine, while good at some things, hardly has a monopoly on healing knowledge.
Let us also end the "drug war", a costly endeavor that has caused the U.S. to lead the world in incarceration, take children from their parents, and focus law enforcement on personal behaviors (however dysfunctional), rather than on actual criminals. The black market that arises from prohibition; the stealing that occurs to pay for illicit habits; the lack of treatment solutions under a framework of criminality; none of these things make sense. Marijuana should be legalized in a manner similar to alcohol, and hard drugs made available, perhaps through the medical establishment, so as to take the black market out of the mix.
We should have strict environmental protections. PCBs in the Hudson River should have had General Electric’s corporate charter pulled. We should not treat corporations as persons. We should end our participation in NAFTA and the WTO, two cogs in the wheel grinding the American middle class to the economic bottom. Let us not confuse small businesses with multinational corporations; let us not condone corporate malfeasance. Let us not confuse responsible capitalism or speculation with misdeeds hidden from prosecution under the legal entity of the corporation. Let us not confuse national human interests with corporate interests.
Let us embrace the Second Amendment (concealed carry, etc.), and all elements of the Bill of Rights. We are living in a nation where the Bill of Rights has been eroded over time, with the so-called Patriot Act the latest assault. Dimwitted Americans, led by fear and rhetoric, have gone contrary to Benjamin Franklin’s admonition regarding freedom and safety. We are a nation filled with propaganda from the mainstream media, a virtual corporate spokesman for official government policy, where never a contrary word (or fact) can be spoken.
Let us reform our political system. Equal ballot access laws for all candidates, regardless of party affiliation. Limited, low-budget publicly funded general election (not primary) campaigns, with all other money banned, would provide an equal playing field in which elections would be a "forum of ideas" rather than hackneyed used-car political phrases. This would cost the taxpayers less than the current system, where politicians beholden to the highest bidders create all sorts of giveaways, tax loopholes, etc. for their contributors.
Let us ensure equal access to debates for all ballot candidates having a mathematical chance to win. As a minor payback for freely granted monopolies on the airwaves, the radio and television stations should be required to grant free and equal airtime to all candidates. Instant runoff (preferential) voting, in which voters can rank the candidates, would eliminate the "spoiler" effect and let people vote their consciences. As a minor improvement, scrap the outmoded "Electoral College" which has nothing to do with "one person, one vote". As a major improvement, demand auditable paper trails on all electronic voting machines. Let us also not disenfranchise felons once they have served their time.
All corporate welfare should be eliminated. In a slight twist on an idea proposed once by Donald Trump (in his Reform Party presidential dalliance), the national debt should be paid off by a one-time progressive tax on wealth, starting with ten million dollars, on all individuals and corporations. (The twist is that Trump did not propose a progressive scale, nor necessarily include corporations.) The estate tax should also be put back in place. The economic disparities in our nation are great and getting larger. Republican rhetoric-mongers failed to mention that the bulk of estate taxes were on capital gains never before subject to tax. Balanced budget amendments at all levels of government, along with a ban on unfunded mandates, are sensible. All tolled, the average American is vastly overtaxed vis-a-vis any meaningful return on the money.
"Yes" to reproductive choice; "no" to same-sex marriage. "Yes" to a "Manhattan Project" on alternative energy; "no" to affirmative action based on race. "No" to laws that infringe on personal liberties/ responsibilities (no-smoking bans in bars, mandatory seatbelt use, etc.). "No" to our United Nations veto support of Israel’s illegal occupations. All candidates of the party to support all of the stated planks; all other planks (from education to the death penalty to civil unions) are per the discretion of the candidates. How’s all of this for a controversial (perhaps refreshing) starting point?
Lastly, let me recommend David Ray Griffin’s "The New Pearl Harbor" for some insights on the events of 9-11 that are not likely to be heard on the networks. Contained therein is lucid analysis that casts doubt on the official stories regarding that watershed day. For all Republicans in the house, I humbly suggest "Wealth and Democracy" or any work by Kevin Phillips, formerly of the Nixon Administration.
With an audience such as there is in Intertel, I would have done well to toss an initial submission in regarding the metaphysical or other rarefied topic. The recent Port Of Call pieces on the Electoral College inspired me in the political vein. My sense is that a large political void is there to be filled, and that it will take a mix of planks from across the political spectrum to move forward a key set of planks that speak to human decency and common sense.
While having advocated an abolishment of the Electoral College (a much larger topic in itself), I agree wholeheartedly with Jeffrey Fisher regarding the ignorance of the populace. Unfortunately, the political parties, which control the electors and which prefer to broker their power, are a second choice to the citizenry itself. Given a party worth voting for, even a third of the electorate can make a difference! It would be interesting to find a political place for that disgusted third to place its votes and its political energies.