Tuesday, December 6 , 2016, 10:26 am | Partly Cloudy 60º


Randy Alcorn: Duopoly Parties Are Adept at Rolling with the Changes

Whenever a national election results in one of the duopoly parties getting trounced by the other, the losing party is typically judged to be in great demise and even threatened with extinction. But despite the severity of any loss, neither party has ever disappeared. They both shift their positions enough and modify their ideologies enough to accommodate the realities of the changing electorate. They roll with the changes and survive in some form of reincarnation.

The Democratic Party moved toward the right after repeated drubbings during the Ronald Reagan years, and with its new look eventually rebounded with the election of Bill Clinton. Under Clinton, the Democrat Party behaved more like the Republican Party of Dwight Eisenhower than the Democrat Party of Lyndon Johnson.

Now, with the convincing defeat of Mitt Romney, a Tea Party-infested, previously over-confident, Republican Party is undergoing a profound self-examination that seeks to remain viable by appealing to a broader electorate. The party’s position on issues of immigration, abortion, taxation and social welfare are all open to re-evaluation — and modification.

What integrity. What loyalty to principles. When the brand needs tweaking, principles become pliable.

By definition a political party is an organization established to influence public policy in alignment with a particular ideology. How far, then, can it depart from its ideological positions before disavowing its essential reason for being?

How much integrity does a political party have if it behaves like a business with a product to sell, and if that product isn’t selling well enough it makes changes to the product or even creates a different product? But, that is how our duopoly parties behave — like business enterprises maintained for the livelihoods of its members/owners. Their essential reason for being is something other than ideological.

The Democrat and Republican parties are vehicles for politicians, and more critically, special interests, to secure and maintain power. They do this, primarily, by electing candidates to government offices. To be successful in this effort they must have a sufficient number of party members, or be able to convince enough nonparty members to carry their candidates to victory. That is why marketing a product that appeals to the broad electorate is so vital. Such marketing efforts are very expensive.

And, that is why certain powerful special interests support both parties as needed. They really don’t care which party wins because they have bought and paid for enough Democrats and Republicans to ensure that they get sufficiently favorable influence over public policy.

The duopoly parties are just different sides of the same coin carried in the pocketbooks of wealthy, powerful special interests. Both parties are concerned with maintaining the power and position of their members and clients, and not necessarily the best interests of the nation as a whole. America’s representative democracy is slouching towards its own demise.

It is bitterly laughable to hear the duplicitous duopoly politicians constantly justifying their positions by saying it is what the American people want. They don’t care what the citizenry wants, only what their paying supporters want. Ultimately, it does not matter that much which party wins. After the election the average voter is placated with promises, or ignored, until the next election cycle when the duopoly parties roll out the carnival carts with the latest versions of their snake oil.

That is why we need to mix it up a bit and diffuse the duopoly concentration of political power. We need to refresh the political biosphere with a few new parties that are not yet polluted by plutocratic and big labor special interests — parties that will truly represent their constituencies. Maybe a little parliamentary-like diversity might ensure more honest representation of national interests than the carefully choreographed duopoly system beholden to its special supporters. It might be noisy and contentious, but it would be problematic for big-money special interests to buy off all the parties.

There should be a standalone Tea Party that, rather than body-snatching the Republican corpse, exists undiluted to represent the worldview of its members. There could be a blatantly Liberal Party that espouses all the social welfare of its utopian dreams. We could have a party of reason that values objectivity and common sense rather than left/right polarized ideologies.

At least voters would know what they were getting when they voted for these parties, instead of the elastic promises, and shape-shifting positions of the duopoly.

But, until Americans break the duopoly habit and vote for other parties, the nation will be conned by the illusion of choice, while special interests continue to shape public policy through the two parties that they have bought and paid for.

— Santa Barbara political observer Randy Alcorn can be contacted at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Click here to read previous columns.

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