Running Until Your Legs Fall Off
When you begin to think about politics beyond the dichotomy of the party system, things get interesting. You'll quickly find that people don't like to have you at parties and that you're always someone's enemy even if they sort-of agree with you.
Watching the current election, the usual hyperbole seems to apply. The right has put forward someone who genuinely seems to represent the dog whistle tactics that date back to at least Nixon. The only people that appear to have abandoned the party are the North Eastern Intellectuals and Libertarian Westerners who probably make up the sizable chunk of numbers showing for Gary Johnson.
On the Democratic side, the 2000 election is playing out in a similar fashion. The establishment candidate is tarred and feathered by an outsider Senator, who harkens back to the old labor days--and in this case a healthy dose of socialist populism. Jill Stein is no Ralph Nader, but a fair amount of Bernie voters might negate the need for celebrity recognition.
The idea of a major realignment is looming over the horizon, along with premature cheers about the death of the GOP. The Democratic coalition is just as shattered as the GOP, leaving everything up in the air. The Greens don't have a real chance at becoming a major party, even in countries with a better leftist base than the US they aren't a dominant force. The Libertarians have a lot of crazy in the closet to clean up, but they can appeal to Republicans that don't want to be associated with a vicious xenophobe.
What we need is a moderate party, but I'm not sure how that will work out. The biggest problem is that moderates tend to have an issue or two that pushes them more toward Republican or Democratic candidates, and trying to synthesize these into a concrete platform is difficult.
The Republicans will likely come out of this realignment as the party of Christian Conservatives, attempts to pull the party away from that base tend to backfire. The Democrats have the leftist academics, minority voters, labor, and civil servant bloc tied up. Civil libertarians don't have much of a home, your lean to the left or right in that case probably has to do with your opinion on guns. Digital Rights activists have a similar issue, and probably come down on left or right based on their views on social and economic policy.
12 years ago the demographic power of Latino voters was the policy du jour of Republican strategists, hoping to appeal to religious conservatism to pull a significant number of this growing section of the population to the party. A couple of disastrous primary seasons later and that seems nigh impossible at this point.
Libertarians are confident that they can sell a younger generation on deregulation of both the economic and social spheres in the US. Signified by the cry of guns and abortion, it's at least working early in this election cycle. Johnson is posting some serious numbers for a third party candidate.
There is no guarantee that the upcoming realignment after this election is going to net a third party in politics. However, it is probably the only way to break the game theory electorate and get government moving again. The rhetoric on both sides of the conflict is getting coarser and more divorced from reality as the battleground for change gets smaller and smaller.
It would be nice if there would be some party that came together to be the adults in the room. Working on the idea of compromise reforms: things like Congressional term limits, electoral reforms, government pay restrictions, lobbying reforms, and a host of corruption issues that vex people of every political stripe.
I'm cynical that's even a possibility. The coalitions for reform aren't powerful in either party, or we'd have seen something coming out of the platforms. Even campaign spending reform is cynical. The Democratic reforms are based more on regulating the kind of spending that conservative candidates use rather than their own. Any changes to the finance structure of campaigns need to take from the war chests equally, or it's doomed to fail.
It's hard not be cynical, but that's because the things I value as a voter aren't embraced wholeheartedly in politics. The only reason Democrats are even decent on social issues is the massive pressure of the last ten years forcing them to stop playing it safe on gay marriage. Both parties support a culture of spying on the American people and terrible criminal justice policies. Copyright reform and internet freedom are both treated as fringe movements. The Democrats play lip service to keep the money from Silicon Valley, and the Republicans are outright hostile on this front.
This election is historic for the sheer dislike many Americans have for each candidate. It's also been running for almost two and a half years straight, with an earnestly long primary battle on both sides. The exhaustion everyone feels palpable, and no matter how you vote the only option seems to be "fuck it."