24 October 2009

Political Parties

I tried getting more involved in the political process last year and attended our county republican convention. In many ways it was an interesting day, but I was left with a bad, frustrated taste in my mouth. After that I registered as an independent/un-affiliated voter. In the state of Colorado this means that I can't participate in the caucus process, I am only able to vote in the general elections. I did this even with a continual frustration at the thought that supporting independent or third-party politicians is too often a 'wasted' vote.

This article by Robert Higgs lays out many of my own frustrations with the American political party system.
I go through life constantly bemused by all the weight that people put on partisan political loyalties and on adherence to the normative demarcations the parties promote. Henry Adams observed that “politics, as a practice, whatever its professions, has always been the systematic organization of hatreds.” This marshalling of hatreds is not the whole of politics, to be sure, but it is an essential element.

I find the following a bit extreme, but it easily finds sympathy within my own feelings and frustrations.
Of course, it’s all a fraud, designed to distract people from the overriding reality of political life, which is that the state and its principal supporters are constantly screwing the rest of us, regardless of which party happens to control the presidency and the Congress. Amid all the partisan sound and fury, hardly anybody notices that political reality boils down to two “parties”: (1) those who, in one way or another, use state power to bully and live at the expense of others; and (2) those unfortunate others.

I am torn by the feeling that as much as I hate the current system the only way to have any influence is to play their game. The way around this would be to help educate the rest of the citizenry, help them understand more of the political party system as seen in the light of the founding fathers' intentions to free us from undue influence and power in the government. Unfortunately, I feel that the apathy and distraction with which so many live their lives makes the latter course one of futility.

I see any change in the political system coming from an individual level and spreading by personal interaction and local efforts. It may take a long time, much longer than any one voter's lifespan, but I still hold on to a little hope that there are enough people concerned with abuses of power in government that the ideals of personal freedom may live on.

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