Well, ladies and gentlemen, it appears the shutdown is drawing to an end. And it happened with a bipartisan move in the Senate. Taking the lead on negotiations that would affectively reopen the government and raise the debt ceiling – temporarily – were Senators Harry Reid and Mitch McConnell. Reid, a Democrat, and McConnell, a Republican, worked with other Senators from their respective sides to come to a compromise. Of sorts.
The deal gave the Democrats pretty much what they wanted: Raise the debt ceiling and pass a continuing resolution to reopen the government. On the other side, it gave the Republicans just one thing that they wanted: Budget negotiations and conference on the matter. That’s right. The Affordable Care Act, better known as Obamacare, will go on untouched. So, in reality, the last 16 days have been spent bickering and arguing about the one subject that meant the most to Republicans and members of the Tea Party. In that sense, the two and a half week holdup was a fail.
The question that must be posed now is, where do we go from here? With everyone involved suffering drastic hits in nationwide approval ratings, 2014 -an election year for the Senate- is beginning to look more like a house cleaning. Granted, there will only be 33 seats up for grabs during the regular election, though. Still, the hope for the Republicans would have been to grab as many of them as they could. The Democrats felt the same way, I’m sure. Then there’s the Tea Party, who would love to get a few of those seats so that their voice carried more weight in the Senate. But, again, with approval ratings in the gutter for all parties, there’s certain to be a shakeup. Which way it goes is anyone’s guess at this point.
So, again, where do we go from here? In my honest opinion, it’s hard to say. I have spent some time thinking about this very question. I have always said that a two party system COULD NOT work, any longer, in American politics. I have long said that we needed a strong third party. Some would point at the Tea Party and say that they WERE the strong third party with names like Lee, Cruz and Palin. I have to beg to differ though. From an educated standpoint, the Tea Party is a failed experiment as a third party. In fact, the name alone suggests third party but their political ideology suggests they are nothing more than extreme right wing conservatives. And that’s fine. But since their establishment, they have given Americans the appearance of being a party separate of the Republican caucus. There’s really no secret that for a third party to be strong and successful it needs to have its very own identity. Independents aren’t really a third party, they are more like a third wheel on a date, fun to have around but kind of annoying when things get heated.
So what would make a strong third party? I think it’s going to take dissecting the other parties and really finding out what parts of their ideology the people cling to. Find out what has kept them around for so long. Then, you take the best parts and create a new, fresh, political agenda based on the best of the big two. What you should come up with is a middle of the road, political agenda that believes in taking care of Americans first, likes saving money, believes in fair taxes across the board, wants American education to sit atop the world rankings instead of somewhere near the middle and believes that the peoples’ voice needs to be heard in order to accomplish sanctity. I have no problem saying that, personally, this is how I think about politics. To me, it’s all about my PERSONAL freedom. I have never believed that the government should tell me what I can and can’t do as long as what I am doing isn’t causing physical harm to anyone else or malicious property damage. I mean, really, isn’t that what “pursuit of happiness” means?
The fear that I have at this particular point in time is reminiscent of what happened when Ross Perot ran for president. See, old Ross took the nation by storm. He was ready and willing and the people were quickly getting behind him. And then something happened so he backed out, only to jump back in to the race a few months before the election. By then, those who were ready to support him were weary of returning him to their good graces. When election day came, he managed to get just enough votes to screw up the election. The reason that today’s current situation invokes that memory is that the Tea Party public opinion polls have sank…dramatically. If you were to believe the poll numbers, one could only ascertain that America has deemed the third party experiment a complete failure. What that means for any other third party hopefuls is that Americans will be less apt to vote for anyone that isn’t from the big two for fear that it will just cause chaos and invoke more rhetoric while failing to represent the will of the people. In essence, it’s quite the conundrum for the voters. Do they trust another third party or just go with the lesser of two evils? My hope is that the American people don’t lose trust in the political process.
Although, I fear, that it is too late for that.