Sunday, October 12, 2008

Bread and Circuses, Part 4: You Can Be Anything!

That’s what they tell us when we’re kids. And in the spirit of idealism, I want to pretend it’s true--well, in a way. So let’s pretend there are two candidates running for President of the United States. One endorses commonsense positions on political issues. The other “plays politics,” saying and doing politically what he thinks will get him in office and keep him there. You have to choose which of these two guys you want to be. What’s your answer?

Oh, did I mention that the first guy is running for the Green Party, while the second is running for the Democrats or Republicans (take your pick)? Does that change your answer?

What if I add the following? The first guy is honest and cares about people. He got into politics to help people. The second guy isn’t downright evil, but he’s not above using deception to achieve political goals. And he doesn’t really care about people; he just got into politics because he likes power. You’re probably more inclined now to say you want to be the first guy, but I bet there’s still a slight inclination to go with the major-party guy. Otherwise you probably feel like you’re wasting your time.

Doesn’t that show that there’s a problem with this system? I mean, it’s no wonder most politicians act the way they do. They’re always up against choices like the one I just gave you, and often political expediency trumps personal values. Now, I know that there are a lot of reasons why someone might sometimes compromise values for a larger political goal. I get that. But why should the two-party system be that kind of goal, that kind of reason? What is it that’s so inherently great about having two parties that makes it OK to play politics like that?

Coming up next time: the final installment of the “debate circus” series.

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