Saving America from the
Democrats and Republicans
How to Elect an
and Why We Need One
Table of Contents
Part One : The History
Chapter 1: THE COMMON GOOD
Chapter 2: HISTORY OF THE MAJORS
Chapter 3: THE INDEPENDENTS
Part Two : The Problem
Chapter 4: ELECTORAL POLITICS
Chapter 5: BALLOT ACCESS AND VOTING RIGHTS
Chapter 6: THE MONEY
Part Two : The Solution
Chapter 7: AN INDEPENDENT PERSPECTIVE
Chapter 8: HOW TO ELECT AN INDEPENDENT PRESIDENT
About the author
For the past 156 years, the Democrats and Republicans have controlled both houses of Congress and the presidency. During that time America rose to become one of two great superpowers and then the lone superpower on the planet – the strongest economic and military country the world has ever known.
We can debate whether America’s rise has been because of, or in spite of, the two-party system. But one thing is undeniable. Right now, the two major parties – the Democrats and Republicans – are failing us. At the precise time when we need them most, the gridlock in Washington is threatening to destroy all that past generations have sacrificed for and built. And with the two most polarizing and unpopular presidential candidates in history, there’s no end in sight.
This is not news, of course. There’s no shortage of ideas from pundits, scholars and politicians that acknowledge this reality. And many of their fixes, if enacted, could actually work. But this collective conventional wisdom completely misses the point. The model on which it is based relies on a fallacious premise, one that overlooks the central paradox of our time. Every traditional solution – from campaign finance reform to restrictions on lobbying – requires action by Congress. But Congress won’t solve the problem. Congress is the problem! Asking Washington to fix itself is like asking the fox to guard the hen house. Washington is in a Catch-22. Only the politicians in Washington can fix our broken government. But they won’t, for one immutable reason. It’s against the interests of the Democrats and Republicans in Washington to fix Washington.
Given this reality, to find an answer that actually works, we can’t operate within the existing political structure. We have to challenge that framework and fundamentally alter it. Change could happen in a number of ways, but most of them aren’t good. An economic collapse or a complete political meltdown might shift the dynamic, but at an extremely high cost. There is one solution – the only solution – that is simple in concept, even if challenging to implement. It looks to the American people and takes place in that most sacred of places – the voting booth. To fix Washington, we have to stop electing Democrats and Republicans.
This book offers one path to break the two-party stranglehold on power, and it starts at the top – electing an Independent president. This is not the final goal of opening up Congress to Independent senators and congresspeople, and there may be other ways to get there. But given the structural realities of our current political system, the most realistic avenue for change begins at the presidential level. It is only with a truly reform-minded executive that the entire system can be overhauled, resulting in a multi-party Congress that truly represents the ideological diversity of our country. The only way to fix Washington is to elect an Independent^1^ president.
For this Independent transformation to take place, we have to first see how we arrived at our current state of dysfunction. In Part One of this book – The History – we see that the founders detested political parties, viewing them as a threat to democracy. Despite this antipathy, a two-party system came to pass, eventually leading to the Democrats and Republicans controlling the corridors of power uninterruptedly for over 150 years. But third parties, despite their limited power, have played a crucial role in our political development, responsible for many of our historic reforms and innovations, such as child labor laws and the direct election of senators. The overview of these colorful parties and their impact on the nation is both entertaining and instructive.
In Part Two – The Problem – we identify three areas that lie at the root of the corruption. Ironically, it was the founders who, despite their best intentions, inadvertently laid the seeds for the two-party system, an inevitability explained by a principle known as Duverger’s law. The majors have taken advantage of the situation, creating an electoral system that gives every advantage to themselves at the expense of all challengers. Central to their scheme are restrictions on ballot access and voting rights, enabling them to create a rigged system that favors those in power over those seeking to replace them. This includes the ingenious yet ingenuous spoiler myth, intended to pressure voters to choose between the “lesser of two evils” rather than their preferred candidate. Perhaps the most important factor in their continued political ascendancy is money, allowing them to take advantage of the power of incumbency to stack the deck even more in their favor.
Having defined the problem, Part Three – The Solution – provides the solution. After looking at the prospect of transforming the system by electing Independents at the state, local and congressional level, the focus is directed towards electing an Independent president. Mobilizing the grass-roots movement that arose in the course of the recent primary season, this approach calls for Independents and third parties to unite and form an Independent Coalition, combining their resources to defeat a common political enemy – the Democratic and Republican duopoly. This coalition would implement an Independent primary that duplicates and rivals the major party primaries to nominate an Independent presidential candidate who has been vetted, battle-tested, and who has the financial and political resources necessary to take on the Democratic and Republican candidates in the general election.
It is only with the election of an Independent president that the country can hope to move forward and end the gridlock that has left Washington impotent to address the pressing crises of our time. With a nonpartisan leader, the two major parties will have no excuse not to pass legislation, since the victory would belong not to the other party’s president but to the government and country as a whole. Credit can be shared equally between the parties, creating a win-win situation rather than the current no-win scenario. An Independent president will also pursue structural changes, putting pressure on Congress to pass reforms that enable Independents to compete for senate and congressional seats. This would lead to new and innovative solutions to our collective problems, since on a host of issues, from health care to foreign policy to the economy, the dialog would no longer occur within a narrowly defined range. Instead, the two major parties would be forced by the new diversity in Congress to think outside the box and consider possibilities that would otherwise never see the light of day.
The enthusiasm, motivation and even the beginnings of this organization are already in place, building on the successes of the outsider campaigns of 2016. With the right leadership, the Independent Coalition can be ready as soon as 2020 to challenge the status quo. But whatever shape an Independent movement ultimately takes, in the final analysis, voting Independent – whether for president, Congress or at the state and local level – is the only solution for ending the dysfunction in Washington. Everyone acknowledges the problem, knows that it won’t fix itself, yet keeps waiting for the politicians to suddenly act against their own interests. It won’t happen. Change is not up to them. It’s up to us.
There is nothing I dread so much as the division of the Republic into two great parties, each under its leader…This, in my humble opinion, is to be feared as the greatest political evil under our Constitution.
Hip, Hip, Hooray!
Washington, whose legendary stolidity was the glue that held the Continental Congress together, was growing impatient. His friends Jefferson and Hamilton persisted in their incessant squabbling, oblivious to his wearied pleas for an end to their bickering. Rather than pick up the argument with their usual enthusiasm and ardor, either debating as a collective body or breaking up into small groups, the delegation looked on listlessly. They were exhausted. It had been months in the oppressive Philadelphia summer, locked away in a tiny building, the windows tightly shut for secrecy. The nonstop negotiation, battling and compromising had left them both unsatisfied and relieved at the same time. Even the father figure himself, miraculously managing to stand above the fray, was beginning to show cracks from the strain.
But victory was close at hand. The next day, September 17, 1787, they would emerge from Constitution Hall weary but elated, the fruits of their labor waving triumphantly in their hands. This group of 55 men – the Founding Fathers – would manage in just four short pages to give birth to a democracy that would endure for over 200 years and become the greatest power in the world. Their foresight was remarkable and their legacy, the United States Constitution, earth shattering.
No Partying Allowed
The Democrats and Republicans have been in power a long time. Over 150 years. So long that it almost seems natural, inevitable, as if it’s their birthright. But it’s not. In fact, just the opposite.
If you’ve ever read the Constitution, you may have noticed the absence of an important word – party. This was no accident. To say the Founders didn’t like political parties is like saying Yankee fans don’t like the Red Sox. It doesn’t quite capture the intensity. They feared and detested political parties! They were anathema to everything they were trying to achieve in their bold experiment, an existential threat to the new democracy’s very existence. In short, they could not be tolerated.
Despite their impressive ability to disagree on virtually every point, on this they were unanimous. Here’s what Washington himself had to say on the subject. “In government of a monarchical cast, patriotism may look with indulgence, if not with favor, upon the spirit of the party. But in those of popular character, in Governments purely elective, it is a spirit not to be encouraged…a fire not to be quenched; it demands a uniform vigilance to prevent its bursting into a flame, lest instead of warming it should consume.”^^ii^^ Thomas Jefferson despised them enough to write, “If I could not go to heaven but with a party, I would not go there at all.”^^iii^^ John Marshall, the first Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, remarked that nothing debases or pollutes the human mind more than a political party. And in 1816, when political parties had already become institutionalized, Andrew Jackson declared, “Now is the time to exterminate the monster called party spirit.”^^iv^^
With this in mind, the groundbreaking document was created with the express purpose of keeping parties from rearing their ugly heads. They were a political evil, and the Constitution was crafted to minimize their influence. It wasn’t a question about factions forming and coalescing around particular issues and interests. The Founders understood that competing interests would exist and exert their influence in the political arena. But they envisioned that the political institutions created by the Constitution would be sufficient to represent these interest groups without the necessity of parties. The notion of permanent political parties was poisonous to a functioning democracy and something to be scorned.
The Common Good
The Founders’ distrust was well-placed. In fact, one way of characterizing the current state of affairs in Washington is to say that it is the worst fears of the Founding Fathers come to fruition. Among these were “the emergence of parties…as interests in themselves: the openness of parties to corruption, and the ease with which they could be mastered by demagogues.”^^v^^
Of these, it is the self-preservation instinct of parties that is the gravest threat to democracy and, as time has borne out, the single greatest cause of today’s dysfunction. The Founders understood the tendency of political parties to consider their own survival as more important than the welfare of the nation. Parties would become so entrenched that they would place their own political interests first, even above those of the country.
Perhaps the greatest difference between then and now, and one that goes to the heart of the matter, is how politicians view their role. At the time of the drafting, all politicians of the day, whatever their political persuasion, whether liberal or conservative, from the North or the South, were guided by a fundamental principle – the notion of the common good. The reason for forming a union in the first place was that each person would be better off because of the collective strength and wisdom, and as a result, either out of a sense of enlightened self-interest or simply motivated by altruism, everyone would act for the good of the whole. “Parties,” on the other hand, “by framing every issue in terms of winners and losers, the Founders believed, undermine this indispensable willingness to seek at some level the common good rather than the satisfaction of special interests.”^^vi^^
Hard to imagine, isn’t it? This notion of the common good has disappeared completely from our politics, usurped by the institutionalization of party politics where the good of the party supersedes that of the country, sometimes in surprisingly unabashed ways.
When President Obama took office, the country did what it usually does at the beginning of a new administration. It rooted for him. The American people intuitively recognize that a successful administration is good for everyone. But on the very day of the inauguration, when Washington was celebrating and the country shared a unifying sense of pride and optimism, a nefarious event was happening in a private dinner in the Caucus Room, an upscale restaurant in Washington. A group of prominent Republicans, among them then-House Minority Whip Eric Cantor and future vice-presidential nominee and Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, held a secret meeting with one goal in mind – to plot the downfall of the new administration. The spirit of the meeting was encapsulated by Representative Kevin McCarthy. “If you act like you’re the minority, you’re going to stay in the minority…We’ve gotta challenge them on every single bill and challenge them on every single campaign.”^^vii^^ The meeting ended with an incredible agreement. The entire House Republican caucus would vote against every single one of President Obama’s economic policies, regardless of whether they agreed or disagreed with them. The era of obstructionism had begun!
What ensued would have the Founders rolling over in their graves. At the time, the country was in economic crisis, reeling from the crash of 2008. The consensus among economists – insofar as there ever is one – was that the country needed a huge spending boost from the federal government, and President Obama introduced what came to be known as the Stimulus. While it eventually passed, every single Republican in the House of Representatives voted against it!
Was this done for economic reasons? After all, as a general rule Republicans want to reduce government spending, not increase it. But here’s the tell. In 2008, just a year earlier, Congress had passed another stimulus package costing approximately $160 billion, and 164 House Republicans had voted for it. The difference was that at that time, the president was George W. Bush – a Republican! But now with a Democratic president, the political calculation had changed. It was pure party politics, as blatant an example of a party putting its own interests before those of the country as imaginable.
During the great health care debate of 2009, which we’ll revisit later in the book, one of the biggest controversies was the notion of an individual mandate, something Republicans universally opposed. The one thing they seemed to forget is that the concept of an individual mandate was a Republican idea, originated in 1989 by Stuart Butler of the Heritage Foundation, a conservative think tank, and advanced for many years by Republican legislators as well as a Republican president. This practice of reversing your position simply because the other party has the presidency recurs throughout history and is one of the most transparent examples of parties placing their own interests above those of the American people.
While these two examples happen to involve Republicans, the Democrats are equally guilty of engaging in partisan politics at the expense of the country.^^2^^ The flip side of the ‘just say no’ strategy is when politicians support a position they would otherwise oppose simply because the president happens to be from their own party. In 2013 President Obama contemplated a military strike against Syria, ostensibly in retaliation for its use of chemical weapons. Rather than act unilaterally, he decided to seek Congressional approval beforehand.^^3^^ Most Republicans, normally hawkish, opposed the idea for a variety of reasons. But the progressive community – at least the grassroots members – was virtually universally against it. Nevertheless, two of the most liberal Democratic members of Congress defied their constituencies and backed the president. It’s possible that Senator Barbara Boxer and former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi were acting on principle, but one wonders where they would have stood had George W. Bush still been president.
While the inaugural day Republican meeting was held in secret, hidden from the glare of the media, the same sentiment later came to light in a startling, public way. Responding to a question in an October 20, 2010, interview with National Journal magazine, Senate minority leader Republican Mitch McConnell had this to say about his party’s plans for the next two years. “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.” Ding. Wrong answer. It’s one thing to oppose specific policies when you disagree with them, and it’s natural to want to return to power. But when you place a lust for power as your top priority, elevating it above even the needs of the nation, you’re doing just what the Founders feared – becoming an interest unto yourself.
From 2005 to 2006, even the most jaded observers of politics had to be shocked by the goings-on in the 109th Congress. It seemed like every day some new scandal was making headlines. At least 21 members of that Congress were investigated by the FBI for corruption,^^viii^^ and according to the Washington Post, “[i]ndictments, investigations and allegations of wrongdoing have helped put at least 15 Republican House seats in jeopardy,” four of which were connected to the infamous Jack Abramoff scandal.^^ix^^ As it turns out, the Republicans did lose the House that year. The article went on to cite a poll in which half of all Americans believed most politicians were corrupt, and a third even made this indictment of their own representative.
Corruption is nothing new in politics, but the Founders knew political parties would be particularly susceptible to it. The scandals of the 109th Congress are one form of this, but in a later chapter, when we look at the influence money and special interests have on our politics, we’ll see how both the Democrats and Republicans have made corruption institutionalized.
The Power of Demagoguery
“Death panels,” she declared, and the war of words was on. Commercials were aired with grandmothers in wheel chairs being rolled to the edge of a cliff and thrown over. The government was now going to decide who was going to live and who to die. This new government program was nothing short of socialized medicine, just a short step to communism. Even though she eventually lost the war, the damage had been done, and Obamacare would never be looked at the same.
As with their other concerns that have come to pass, so has their apprehension that parties would be easily mastered by demagogues, people who wouldn’t hesitate to take advantage of popular fears and prejudices to further their own political ambitions. Former Republican vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin was the modern master of this, turning every complex issue into a soundbite. When historians write the history of the great health care debate of 2009, top among their headlines will be her above-quoted infamous phrase, designed to preclude discussion and instead appeal to our basest instincts. In 2012, when Republican Representative Allen West invoked the ghost of Eugene McCarthy and claimed that up to 81 members of the Democratic party were members of the Communist party, he too was resorting to highly charged rhetoric to create an atmosphere of fear and distrust.
As masterful as Palin is as a demagogue, she has been dethroned, replaced by the new champion – Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump. He has raised the art to a new level, allowing him to defeat 16 more experienced political rivals to capture the nomination. In the general election he is not slowing down, hoping to ride it all the way to the White House.
Just as with placing party over nation and, in fact, all of the tactics discussed in this book, the Republicans don’t have a monopoly on demagoguery. The abortion debate and access to birth control are divisive and complex issues, not easily reduced to simple slogans. When in 2011 Speaker Pelosi referred to Republican efforts to defund Planned Parenthood and restrict access to abortions as “a war on women,” a phrase which has taken root within the Democratic party, she was engaging in classic demagoguery, attempting to render illegitimate the views of her political opponents.
This particular term of art – “war on” – has a storied history in modern politics, holding a special place in the recent annals of American demagoguery. Lyndon Johnson’s war on poverty, Richard Nixon’s war on drugs, George W. Bush’s war on terror, and most recently the accusation that the Republican budget was a war on the poor are bipartisan examples of one of the dangers of party politics. What would the Founders think?
The two parties which divide the state, the party of Conservatism and that of Innovation, are very old, and have disputed the possession of the world ever since it was made.
Ralph Waldo Emerson^^x^^
Let the Party Begin
Despite their best intentions, despite their well-founded fears, and despite an initial period of optimism, joy and unity following the Constitutional Convention, the inevitable occurred. Parties began to rear their ugly heads.^^4^^ Washington had been elected president unanimously in 1789, and he represented what is commonly referred to as the Federalist Party. We have to be careful here, however, because the use of the term party had a very different meaning back then. It was not a party in the modern sense of the word. “The Federalist party could fairly claim to be essentially identical with the political nation—as the Founders had intended. That is, the Federalists in 1789 were not a party in the Founders’ pejorative sense but a kind of committee or club formed to manage the national polity.”^^xi^^ “Since the Federalists denied the very legitimacy of a political party, they never openly effected any such party organization as has characterized every other major American party.”^^xii^^ Professor Allan Lichtman, historian and professor at American University, describes is as a “proto-party.”^^xiii^^
It didn’t take long for this unity of purpose to break down, and in the 1790s factions began to assert themselves. Before long parties began to coalesce, with two clearly defined ideological camps evolving in Congress. One group centered around Alexander Hamilton and John Adams, who supported a strong central government with a national bank and close ties to big business and who advocated for positive government action. The opposite camp formed around Thomas Jefferson, who preferred a decentralized government not tied to commercial interests. He was a proponent of states’ rights, opposed such notions as a central bank, and his vision was that of a nation of small farmers, which it had pretty much been up to that point.
For students of history, this disagreement comes as no surprise. While we often view modern-day divisions as though they’re unique to our time, most of the major issues in our country have existed since its inception. But there’s a twist to this. At that time, people arguing for a strong central government were considered conservative, and those in favor of states’ rights liberals. But it’s not black and white, and then as now conservatives and liberals are not a monolithic bloc. For example, while Jefferson did not endorse a strong centralized government, he nevertheless saw one of the roles of government as redistributing wealth to the poor.
By the 1800 election, these leaders represented two distinct groups, one known as the Federalists and the other the Jeffersonians, also known as the Democratic-Republicans.^^5^^ While they were still not parties in the modern sense, they did put forth separate candidates for president and conducted extensive campaigns in their support. Interestingly, the candidates themselves, Jefferson and Adams, did not campaign personally. It was considered unseemly. They adhered to an ideal set by Washington that would almost seem absurd today – a person is called to duty in public service and should not actively pursue office. How times have changed!
The term Democratic-Republican, firmly established by Jefferson’s victory, is reflective of the dual nature of our political system. It is a democracy in that the sovereignty rests with the people, and it is a republic because rather than vote on laws directly, we elect representatives. However, as political labels the two individual terms actually predate the 1800 election and arose in response to the French Revolution, when as a show of support for the revolutionaries, the Democratic Society was formed in Philadelphia. This led to a number of societies or clubs, numbering 35 by the end of 1794, springing up in different parts of the country and calling themselves either Democratic or Republican.
Jefferson won the presidency that year, referring to it as the Revolution of 1800. He saw the Federalists as threatening the ideals fought for in the American Revolution, and in his eyes his victory was a redemption of those ideals. In fact, his presidency marked the demise of the Federalists, who never won the presidency or Congress again.
The next 20 years provided the second and last period of single-party domination, often referred to as the “era of good feelings,” with the Democratic-Republicans controlling both the presidency and Congress. This congenial mood ended in 1824 with the arrival of Andrew Jackson, the first candidate from the west, who had no ties or allegiances to the old party system. Claiming to represent the common folk, Jackson won a plurality of both the popular vote and the electoral college. However, he failed to win enough votes to claim the presidency, and the election was sent to the House of Representatives. Jackson would have to wait, as it elected John Quincy Adams.
While all of the candidates in the 1824 race were nominally Democratic-Republicans, that year proved to be the swan song for the party. In 1828 Jackson remolded the party, named it the Democratic Party, and finally won the presidency. This marked the birth of the Democratic Party as we know it today.
To challenge the Democrats, a party called the Whigs emerged, and between then and 1854 the country had a two-party system, with the Whigs electing two presidents and the two major parties alternating control of Congress. One of the most important aspects of the Whig period was a new topic inserted into the political dialog – social issues. The Whigs added “cultural and moral appeals to economic arguments,” with one Whig representative lamenting, “We have, in truth, in the last eight or ten years, been in a continual state of moral war.”^^xiv^^ Thus began the culture wars.
In the 1830s the Whigs introduced another term that has also become a central fixture in today’s political discourse. “There is a law and order, a slow and sure, a distrustful and cautious party—a conservative, Whig Party, and there is a radical, innovating, hopeful, boastful, improvident, and go-ahead party—a Democratic, Loco-Foco party!”^^xv^^
By 1854 the issue of slavery had become predominant, and it all but tore apart the Democrats and did, in essence, destroy the Whigs. The result of this carnage was the emergence of three parties – the Democrats, the Republicans and the American Party, commonly known as the Know-Nothings. The latter competed with the Republicans to become the dominant major party in opposition to the Democrats, and by 1856 the Republicans emerged victorious. This led to the single most important presidential election in our history, with Abraham Lincoln, generally considered to be on the short list of great presidents, leading the Republican Party to victory and firmly establishing it as a major party. The modern Democratic/Republican two-party system had begun.
With the end of the era of good feelings came a permanent change in national politics. The competition between two parties of relative parity fueled a tremendous rise in voter turnout, going from 27% of eligible voters in 1824 to 80% in 1840. One of the major developments of this time was the advent of what would become an integral part of our politics – national presidential nominating conventions. As we’ll see, this innovation actually originated with a third party, but the two major parties followed suit, with the Democrats holding their first national convention in 1832 and the Whigs in 1839. In 1848 the Democrats instituted further innovations, establishing a national committee composed of one member from each state, and they appointed the first national party chairman.
Over 150 years later, conventions still play an important role in party politics. They bring attention to the vice-presidential and presidential nominees, who nowadays have the chance to sell themselves to a national audience as they launch their campaign. Conventions also provide the parties the opportunity to adopt their party platform, although this can often be contentious, as this year’s Democratic platform fight promises to be. And, of course, conventions can backfire, causing more harm than good, as the Democrats found out in 1968.
But anyone who watches modern-day conventions immediately recognizes the most important function served by conventions. They are festive occasions that have an almost religious quality to them, where people “find in their parties not only political or economic utility but also a kind of emotional or even spiritual fulfillment.”^^xvi^^ As much as we link politics with specific policies, in they end they are ultimately about human connections, and national conventions are one of the primary ways we bring people together to satisfy this fundamental, perhaps even primal, need.
Not Your Father’s Party
While Lincoln was a Republican, there’s a real question as to whether he would be considered a conservative by today’s standards, even if we predate the Tea Party’s influence and the recent shift to the right. Lincoln was a fervent supporter of a strong central government, leading the ultimate manifestation of federal activism and intervention – a civil war – and commandeering passage of three progressive constitutional amendments which would permeate our national character. Modern-day Republicans, on the other hand, advocate for states’ rights and minimal federal intrusion into local affairs. Lincoln would likely be characterized as a liberal today, not a conservative, and it is all but impossible to envision him seeking today’s Republican nomination for president, let alone winning it.
In the course of my interview with professor Lichtman, my intuition was confirmed, as he described the fundamental shift that has taken place between the two parties since the Civil War. In the 19th century the Democrats championed states’ rights and limited government. The Republicans, on the other hand, promoted a more activist government, advocating for federal intervention in such areas as tariffs and subsidies for railroads. These basic philosophical approaches have essentially reversed, with the Democrats now claiming to support a more activist federal government and the Republicans advocating for limited government and states’ rights.^^6^^
This shift is seen most dramatically with respect to slavery, leading to one of the major historical party realignments. As we’ll see in the discussion of third parties, the Republican Party of 1860 was the anti-slavery party, and it was the Democratic Party that defended that institution. The Democrats even continued to support segregation well into the 1940s. As a result of these positions, African-Americans overwhelmingly supported the Republicans, and the white south was a reliable supporter of the Democrats.
These allegiances started to shift during the 1930s and the New Deal, where Democratic relief programs started benefiting the African-American community. In fact, these effectuated an almost complete turnaround, with African-Americans changing from the strongest Republican constituency to the most steadfast Democratic one.
The south, on the other hand, switched just as dramatically in the opposite direction. Drawn to the Democratic Party because of its pro-slavery position, even during Franklin Roosevelt’s presidency it was called the solidly Democratic south, giving him every one of its electoral votes. The affair didn’t start to unravel until the 1940s, when the Democrats became the party of civil rights. Although it was a slow transformation, it was completed in the 1994 mid-term elections, often referred to as the Gingrich Revolution, with the Democratic presidential candidate failing to win a single southern electoral vote in both the 2000 and 2004 elections.
In the 1980s, in addition to transforming the nation, Ronald Reagan also succeeded in turning ‘liberal’ into a dirty word. The stigma lasted until the 2016 cycle, where the popularity of self-described Democratic Socialist Bernie Sanders made the term acceptable once again. But like the parties themselves, the word has also undergone a transformation since the time of Lincoln. Before the 1920s the term liberalism generally referred to opposition to forms of collectivism. Liberals favored a limited decentralized government and championed the marketplace. “Progressives were governmental activists, though the goals of their activism were often conservative. Liberals, in contrast, argued that government, because of its inherent inefficiency, intrusiveness into private life, resistance to change, and tendency to reinforce the socially strong against the weak, should be turned to only as a last resort, except for a few specified purposes such as keeping up national defense and maintaining a stable national currency.” ^^xvii^^ Jefferson was a patron saint of liberals, Lincoln of progressives. It was during the Wilson presidency that the two terms became blurred, and by the end of the 1930s, liberal actually came to mean the opposite of what it had meant earlier. Liberals now supported extensive government regulation and were decidedly anti-big business. “The political mission of liberalism then, through its instrument, the Democratic Party, would be to organize all other major interests…into a political coalition that would normally outweigh the political power of business.”^^xviii^^
Since, as we’ve seen, political parties developed against the wishes of the Founders, the question naturally arises: If the Founders despised political parties so much, how did we come to be a two-party system? The answer is rather simple and can be explained by one facet of our democracy – a winner-take-all electoral system. Under this scheme, designed by the founders, each congressional district has one representative, and that person is determined by who gets the most votes.
This stands in contrast to a system known as proportional representation. While there are many variations of this, the basic principle is that if a party receives a certain percentage of the votes, it receives that percentage of the seats in the legislative body. For example, if the Libertarian Party receives 4% of the national vote for the House of Representatives, it would receive 17 of the 435 House seats.
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Everyone knows Washington is broken, but no one knows how to fix it - until now! Every traditional solution – from campaign finance reform to restrictions on lobbying – completely misses the point. They all require action by the politicians in Washington. But Congress won't solve the problem. Congress is the problem! Asking Washington to fix itself is like asking the fox to guard the hen house. It won't, for one immutable reason. It's against the interests of the Democrats and Republicans in Washington to fix Washington. The solution has to come from outside, and it's found in the American people and that most sacred of places – the voting booth. To fix Washington, we have to stop electing Democrats and Republicans. Only an Independent president can bring the two major parties together to start working on America's problems and stop placing party above country. Saving America from the Democrats and Republicans is a rallying cry and a roadmap for the American people. We cannot leave change up to the politicians in Washington. It's up to us.