Friday, November 10, 2006

America's One Party System: The State

I remember a number of times during the cold war seeing stories about elections in communist countries. They had ballots and showed up to vote just like we did in America. With one small difference. There was only one candidate for each office, the communist state party candidate. Of course, he won. Naturally, this was a source for ridicule. Here in America, we had more than one choice. Each candidate had differing views and different ideas. We had true freedom - or so I was taught.

I wrote a few posts ago on the idea of divided government as a political strategy, or at least as favorable to one party rule. The idea is that if the different branches of government are divided between parties and ideologies, they will have a greater tendency to cancel each other's ability to dominate the people. But, I'd like to look at this from a slightly different angle.

Imagine a huge tug of war match between the Democrats and Republicans. It takes place on a football field, and the rope is placed in the center of the field on the 50 yard line. The winner will pull the opposing team across its own goal line. There are a few dozen people on each side. The match starts, and after a few minutes one party takes a good advantage. The other exerts a large amount of energy and stops the progress. Then they take the advantage. On this goes for quite a long time, back and forth. Hopes rise, then fade, then fall, then rise again. But the match keeps going.

But going quite unnoticed, one team has a slightly larger percentage of people anchoring with their left feet, and the other team has a slightly larger percentage anchoring with their right feet. This is a small effect, but since it is mirrored from one side to another, the net result is movement in the lateral direction - toward one of the sidelines. While everybody is focusing on the visible back and forth tugging, the real story is that the whole group is heading out of bounds.

So while we see the liberals and conservatives fighting back and forth, pitting ideals against each other, the real story is that they have something far more destructive in common. Despite their differences, they are all still politicians, all public masters and not public servants, all power hungry statists, all desiring to control other people. Their very visible differences mask what they have in common. Yes, it's true that there are ideologues on each side, fighting for their pet causes, and this tends to slow the real agenda of state control, but it only limits it - it doesn't stop it.

Although the communist countries have only one "choice" in an election, we still have something very dangerous in common with them - one state.

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