• John Maniglia

The Necessity of Political Reform

Politics today have reached an all-time high of incompetence. The bickering between the two parties that hold vote results in deadlocks and shutdowns. How is this acceptable when the function of the government according to American philosophy is to provide for the people. This is becoming more and more evident as the two dominating if not the only two parties continue in solutions that are tired and inapplicable. It has become appallingly obvious that the very structure of the American political system is in need of reform. What needs to happen is an introduction of multiple political parties into the duel party system that currently exists. Many sources throughout the political atmosphere originating from the center, left, and right all agree on a restructure. An excerpt from the Daily Center states “For Americans, both democratic and republican “do such a poor job” that fifty eight percent believe that an additional party is necessary to bolster the U.S. political process.” If we are to move forward as a country we must rid ourselves of our current political system and exchange it for a more diverse political atmosphere.

Looking into politics today we can see plainly the necessity of change. This ideal of change that has taken root during the presidential campaign of 2008 has influenced a huge amount of the younger generation. A generation that in itself is experiencing its own form of cultural change, one of which can be seen plainly in their demographics. It will not be long into the future where today’s white majority will have their role reversed with the minorities of today. So what does this mean to today’s politics? This means that the very strategy of the Republican and Democratic parties need to change not only dramatically but quickly. We can see this attempt today with the Republican presidential campaign of Ron Paul as he tries to win over minorities with a new strategy. This applies to both parties as they have had for the majority of their existence dealt with only a white vote. The Republicans have had the unfortunate title of being the white party while the Democrats fail in their promises. “Ultimately the extent to which minorities become fully incorporated politically depends on how the Democrats and Republicans approach Americas changing racial demographics” (Zoltan Hajnal). The issue here is how do you win over a group of people whose interests differ from not only your own but the party that supports you. Even today Latinos and Asians roughly 55% of each identify themselves as independent. This is a direct result of the lack of political options for both ethnic groups. Both of which including African Americans have shown a willingness to be politically active. Part of the political reform that is needed today is a national support and acceptance of multiple parties. With a multiple party system we can reach a multifaceted campaign with little effort. In turn we can address the issues that this growing demographic has. This would keep debates vivid and active instead of a continuous repeat of the same issues that arise with two parties. Can we possibly say that today the issues of minorities are being addressed? Look at today’s events concerning Baltimore, Ferguson, and South Carolina these events that are taking a dramatic and violent step toward raising issues that are of concern to the black and minority community. We as a country should ask ourselves weather or not the violence of the riots would have taken place had this demographic had a stronger voice in politics. What I am theorizing here was a preventive measure to this unrest. The issues that has arisen from this unrest could have been stopped had they have had more options to voice their concerns.

But it is not only the lack of the number of parties that is a disturbing part of political atmosphere today but, the corruption that infests the core of it. Lawrence Lessig a former colleague of president Obama writes from his article in Agency Global “At the center of our government lies a bankrupt institution: not finically bankrupt, at least not yet, but politically bankrupt.” What Lessig is implying is the political focus on money and personal gain rather than the people. During presidential campaigns huge of amounts of money is donated, spent, and for that matter moved in ways that raise eyebrows. The audacity of the super paces where individuals can anonymously donate unlimited amounts of finances to public figures is not only irresponsible but careless. These kind of acts breed a natural reaction in human beings called greed. It is safe to say that large amounts of money can be a huge motivator to pass or block bills

Then there are in the interest of investors. A solution to this would be to attack the very supply of money that influences the decisions of some politicians. Lessig recommends correctly two solutions one is a citizen funded election and a ban on consulting after office. If the people of this country were directly involved in funding of their politicians then in turn their concerns would be directly addressed and not the corporations. That is to say the financial aims of politicians would be directed at the public not corporations. Which following this trail of thought would lead to other parties being able to spread their agenda on a monetary level on more even footing. Especially considering that it has been the third party historically which has brought up agendas that the two dominating parties fail to. The growing number of independent voters would place their faith in a party that directly relates to their needs. It is unfortunate but “this democracy no longer works. Its central player has been changed” (Lessig).

The change that has occurred has not been a recent change either but a slow festering wound that originated in the federal courts concerning the 1st amendment. Certain aspects of the interpretation of the 1st amendment have been used in a manner that benefits the two dominating parties. This was not accidental but a political theory placed into practice. The theory is called the responsible government theory which states: that a sustained two-party order maintains political order ensuring the health of Democracy. Like most political theories they forget to factor in human nature and assume that what is written on paper will work just as well in life. The problem with only two parties is we come across a see-saw effect that results in stalemates. The courts self-directing theory has caused damage to a potential gold mine of Democracy. And this is but a minor problem one that can occur in any form of government. The real loss is the loss of other ideas and party ethics that other parties can offer. Without a full category of options people today are less likely to participate in local politics. As Gregory Magaran explains “Expressive freedom, on this account, ensures that all members of the political community will have access to the information they need in order to participate thoughtfully in the political process.”

It is possible that eventually the political system of American will improve and become more diverse in its layout. Other countries including India, which as a general perspective is considered a third world country in comparison, has the world largest Democracy. Over a hundred different political parties have a voice in that country and according to the Daily Show with Jason Jones this results in a 67% show to the poles. Something America has not seen since the 1900 election. And in addition to the number of poles available the officials have no access to T.V ads forcing upon them to ask for the community directly for funding. So if this is possible within a country were the poverty rate exceeds 20% why can it not be done here. What will it take for America to change its political environment? Usually for change to happen a huge catalyst is required and if this is the case are we seeing the start of this with the way the world is today. It is a terrifying thought but one in my opinion that is needed. Not only do we see the unrest of today within the last few weeks but yet again do we come across political back play and corruption. The FEC better known as the federal election commission was questioned this week for allegedly stacking a political forum with democratic speakers. As India has shown everyone has an opinion but, is it ever as simple as right and left. Because America is a country founded on the idea of free speech the chances of political figures losing the ability to place ads on the television is slim. But, this does not mean that we should limit such use to other either.

One would think that getting ads on air or voicing your opinion to the public would just be a matter of paying your dues to the broadcaster. Unfortunately this is not the case nor has it been for thirty years. Many of us know when the presidential debate is going to take place as it is advertised weeks ahead of time similar to other national events like the super bowls. What some may not know is that these debates are set up in a way that locks out political parties other than republican and democrat. This power play is run subtle by both parties through the Commission of Presidential Debates or CPD. The CPD has been around since 1934 dealing with radio, tv, and other forms of media that projects presidential debates. Its focus is to provide the public with an educated and informed view of the debates. And this may have very well been the case until republican and democrat parties took over responsibility and sponsorship in 1984. This in fact was a direct result of the 1984 debates with Nixon. During the debate a third party member was eligible for the event which forced topics to be brought forward which otherwise would have been left alone. Following the debate the CPD changed hands and new standards for eligibility were placed. They are as follows. 1. Constitutionally eligible 2. A theoretical chance of winning 3. 15% from the ballots showing support. As it reads this seems reasonable but how do we expect people and their parties to grow without the ability to project their opinions. This is why the third standard becomes something of a catch 22. And if there is any indication that these debates hold a huge impact in politics we only have to look at the 1992 debate were third party member Perot was invited to attend. At the beginning of the debate Perot had nine percent support from the ballots. And although he lost the race he doubled his support following the debate to 19%. So not only can we see that the exclusion of third parties in presidential debates is not only harmful to the issues of today but deprives people of their voice in the election. As Samuel Toth writes “today's political landscape, participation in the debates sponsored by the CPD would be essential to a third party.” But so few parties outside of the duo-logy that we see today make it there. Even with laws such as the communications act of 1934 which states “Any broadcaster giving or selling airtime to one candidate in any political race must provide the same opportunity to all legally qualified candidates running for the same office.” The solution to this is simple and fair. Dropping the eligibility from 15 to 5 percent which is equal to the federal funding requirement. This would keep from an overcrowding forum and still put forth serious candidates. In addition the sponsorship and management of the CPD should be replaced with a neutral and unbiased persons. Or sense the idea of being unbiased is virtually impossible all parties should pay a solid flat due toward it.

As a country we have a great potential to go further than were we are today. The biggest obstacle of this is our lack to continue to expand our democracy that we are so proud of. If we could only get past the greed and corruption that has taken root in our system and add voices that have yet to be corrupted prosperity could be endless. No system is ever perfect and with the addition of multiple parties problems are not guaranteed fixable. But it can be a start and it has potential.

By John Maniglia (2008)

Works Cited

Jason Jones, India Jones and the Election of Doom, TheDailyShow.cc.com , Comedy Central, 4-9-15, 4-10-15

Zoltan Hajnal, The Untold Future of American Politics, “The NewYorkTimes”, June 4 2012, web 4-12-15

Godfrey Hodgson, The American Political System: Ruin and Reform, “Open Democracy”, NP, 11 feb 2010, web, 4-12-15

Gregory P, Magarion, “Regulating Political Parties under a “public rights” 1st Amendment”, 44.5, April 2003, pg 1939, ASAP Expanded Academic, web, April 19 2015

Toth, Samuel F, “The Political duopoly: antitrust applicability to political parties and the commission on presidential debates.” Case Western Reserve Law Review, Fall 2013:239 Expanded Academics ASAP. Web 30/April/2015

Joanah, Bennet. “Poll; 58% of Americans Want A Third Party.” Daily Center, 9/24/2014, web, 4/28/2014