McLean column: We need more political parties to spur action
The Republicans have done a terrible job of governing. With the presidency and majorities in the House and Senate, they have been able to do nothing regarding health care. As a fiscal conservative, I am not optimistic regarding their ability to get tax reform done.
The Constitution does not mention political parties. There is no requirement to belong to any political party to run for office or vote. One can be independent of parties and do both. However, the reality of the high cost of campaigning has made most politicians seek out one party or the other for the fundraising capability.
In history, there have been several attempts at the establishment of other parties: the Whigs, Teddy Roosevelt’s Bull Moose party, Perot’s Reform Party, and the current Libertarian and Green parties, among others. All have ultimately failed. Reasons vary from lack of money, weak leadership or unpopular agendas.
Most made futile attempts at electing a president. Teddy Roosevelt was the most successful, obtaining 27 percent of the vote. Ross Perot did nearly as well with slightly less than 19 percent. Both candidates took votes from the Republicans, leading to the election of Woodrow Wilson and Bill Clinton.
Today, the major parties are failing to effectively govern. The Republican majority failed without opposition. Democrats did not need to obstruct as the Republicans obstructed themselves.
After the election of President Obama, when Democrats held a majority in the House and Senate, it took them two years to pass Obamacare. With that majority they did nothing on immigration reform and several other issues. President Obama governed by executive order. Congress could not even pass a budget.
The American voter is deservedly angry with both parties in Congress. They seem to work mainly for their own benefit. They take long vacations, often traveling to exotic locations at taxpayer expense under the pretense of fact finding.
Laws they make do not apply to them. They are exempt from Obamacare, having their own special health care. They do not have to abide by insider trading laws. They take massive contributions from lobbyists for their campaigns. They seemingly leave with a much larger net worth than when first elected.
We need more parties. There is no unity in either the Republican or Democratic Party. Bernie Sanders ran for president as a Democrat while he generally identifies himself as either a socialist or progressive. President Trump has been registered as a Republican, independent and Democrat at various stages of his life.
The radical left has pushed the Democratic Party far to the left of the pragmatic politics of either JFK or Bill Clinton. Current Republicans bear little resemblance to the Reagan presidency and his ability to work with Tip O’Neil or the Gingrich Congress and the Contract with America.
If instead of two parties we had several, perhaps coalitions could be formed to work more in the interest of the electorate. For example, the first new party I would suggest would be a Latino party, the Partido. If the Partido had elected a couple of senators from heavily Latino states, it could have negotiated with the Republicans on the health-care bill, agreeing to support a bill in exchange for Republican support of reasonable immigration policies.
Taking personal responsibility for one’s actions is a key element of conservative philosophy.
One must admit that few Americans did not benefit either directly or indirectly from undocumented immigrants. An attractive nuisance was created in our country to which immigrants flocked in search of jobs and a better life. A reasonable policy would be to block further illegal entry while acknowledging that those who came in when immigration policy was not enforced need to gain legal status, protected by our laws.
They should pay back taxes if they cannot prove payment and perform appropriate community service and be allowed to remain legally. A Latino Partido indebted to neither party but with votes to trade on key legislation could probably get immigration reform passed.
Democrats did nothing for Latinos when they had the chance, yet they expect Latinos to vote for them. Republicans do not seem to have an idea of how to deal with Latinos, yet many Latinos are fiscally conservative. Thus an independent Latino party would have leverage with either major party.
Likewise, it seems to me that the progressive/socialist wing of the Democratic Party should break off and call themselves what they are. They could similarly negotiate with either party in power in order to obtain policies they want.
The Freedom Caucus in the Republican party should do the same. They have little in common with establishment Republicans. They should leave the party yet use their voting leverage to negotiate at least some of their basic policies.
Moderate Republicans and Democrats could unite into one moderate party. As a huge voting block, they would wield considerable power, which might allow them to actually get some legislation passed.
Roland McLean, an Aspen Glen resident, is a University of Colorado graduate, Navy veteran and retiree after more than 30 years in international construction. His column appears on the fourth Thursday of each month. Reach him at email@example.com.