September 18, 2012

Vote for Parliament!

I am SURE the parliamentary system has its OWN flaws, but right now it is looking much better to me than the United States's 2-party system.

The problem with a 2-party system is that there isn't much room to SWITCH. There is a stretch of time in each election when there IS still room for me to choose one candidate or the other---but at a certain point in most elections, when it has become apparent to me that one party fervently opposes things I fervently believe in, it doesn't matter WHAT cheesehead move the other party pulls, I can't SWITCH. That's not how it works.

I mean, I'm trying to imagine, just with the imaginative power of imagination, how I would feel if at this point the candidate I've decided to vote for said some truly unacceptable things, some things that meant really no one should vote for him. Would I then vote for the OTHER party? No, because I have already heard THAT candidate say some truly unacceptable things, some things that mean to me that really no one should vote for him.

So in this completely imaginary scenario, I'd be completely stuck: I can't vote for my guy anymore; I can't vote for the other guy. My only remaining option is a Protest Vote: either not voting at all, or voting for a third party candidate I know won't win, just to show how unhappy I am with the choices.

In a parliamentary system, I would have more options, right? I could say, "Wellll, I WAS going to vote for Cheesehead McGee, but it turns out he's a cheesehead. I'm still appalled by Pinehole McCloud, so certainly I'm not voting for HIM, either, but there's this other candidate who is sort of an in between candidate. I'll vote for HER instead." And if, say, 40% of the voters still liked Cheesehead McGee's ideas and 40% still liked Pinehole McCloud's ideas, there could still be 20% power given to MY candidate's ideas TOO. ...Or however that works. I may not be 100% clear on the parliamentary system. Or ours. BUT I KNOW I AM DISCONTENTED.

20 comments:

Sarah said...

Well, what you're describing is less a function of a parliamentary system and more a product of a strong multiparty legislature. There's nothing that prohibits us from having more than two parties other than our own reluctance.

I don't necessarily think the parliamentary system is better than what we have, but I do agree we would be better served by having more political parties that were forced to form coalitions to enact legislation.

d e v a n said...

I have so often wished we had more than 2 choices. Supposedly we do, but everyone basically knows only 2 real choices exist. It sucks.

Amanda said...

Two choices exist because that's where all the money goes. If we kept corporations out of it, there'd be a lot more to choose from.

Charleen said...

Yeah, politics suck, which is why I've stayed out of them till now. I'm 29 and this will be the first election I'm actually voting in, not because any faith has been restored in the system, but more because I feel I can't shirk being a responsible citizen anymore. I still kinda feel like my vote won't do anything, but at least I'll have done my part.

Lauren said...

Isn't there some famous quote that democracy is the worst form of government in the world... except for all the other forms of government? I think of that every four years or so.

Ann Wyse said...

Fritz and I were just talking about this last night. I think having just two parties really does stop new ideas from coming to the forefront of the discussion. Also, I think having (just) two parties STOPS discussion generally, because everyone feels the need to be completely for or completely against. And then, on top of that, we've ended up with at least one really fractured party that is constantly reactive instead of proactive because it's trying so damn hard to keep itself together. There's NOTHING productive about that. For anyone.

Obviously, you can find examples of parliamentary governments where too many parties have affected the stability of the government negatively. (Italy comes to mind.) But I think you can also find examples of systems with more than two parties and a good amount of discussion and action (instead of all the roadblocking that goes on here in the US.)

Joanne said...

Ever since I saw the documentary about the fall of Wall Street I am not voting for anyone anymore. They are almost literally the same person and I'm over it. For years, I have picked the best match for me, even though they are neither working for me, but now I just can't do it anymore.

I don't know if Parliament is the answer, I can't get down with the whole royalty thing. I take your point though.

el-e-e said...

It does feel really pointless to vote anymore and I agree that the 2-party system isn't doing us any good at all.

However, I am thankful that in this whole post, you managed not to say "lesser of two evils." Because I'm good and sick of that phrase (even though it's true).

*off to look up the Parliamentary system and how it works*

Sarah said...

What Amanda said!

Cayt said...

I think that what you are looking for is 'proportional representation'. In the UK, we have a 'first past the post' system, and we still have two (now three...ish) main parties with constituencies that are safely one way or the other and the elections are decided based on a small proportion of the votes from swing seats. Proportional representation would be the way to go for what you're looking for, which is all parties represented to the amount that the people vote for them. There are various versions of that, too - they have different versions in Germany, New Zealand, and several other places. They all have their downsides - for example, frequently politics in places with PR become completely deadlocked because nobody has enough of a majority to actually /do/ anything. Still, at least people feel more represented.

Nicole said...

PARLIAMENTARY SYSTEMS ALL THE WAAAAYYYYY...says the Canadian.

Sarah said...

I'm really don't (even though I know it will) want sound preachy or ranty, but the biggest distinction between the parliamentary system and our own (presidential system) is that in the former the executive branch and the legislative branch are combined. It has nothing to do with how many political parties exist. A parliamentary system does not in any way fix or dictate how many parties exist or are viable. There are plenty of things about our system, independent of the presidential system, that contribute to why we have two major parties. Furthermore, there are examples of parliamentary systems that have two major parties and there are examples of presidential systems that have viable third (or more) parties.

Oh and PLEASE VOTE! I get the frustration and the apathy, but it just kills me to hear it. Women fought so very hard for this not that long ago. Our system is not perfect, but apathy never fixed anything.

Swistle said...

Cayt- I'll bet what I want is THEORETICAL proportional representation, where people cooperate and get along and say things like, "Well, that sounds fair."

H said...

I agree, agree, agree with your post and the commenters, and then I quadruple agree with your comment about theoretical proportional representation.

Also? When I read the post, I consistently read PIEHOLE instead of PINEHOLE McCloud. Which, you know, kind of fits the political scenario!

Leigh said...

People cooperating and doing what's fair? What would that be like??!!

I am with you all the way, here. I do not like any of our current choices and am strongly tempted to vote for a third person, just to send a (very, very small) message. And I agree with H: they're all Pieholes!

Mouse said...

IMO, Chruchill was right when he said "democracy is the worst form of government except all the rest that have been tried". I love our 2 party system because I think it is the best system when it works the way it was intended. The reason our 2 party system doesn't work anymore is b/c it's become so polarized. The intent of the 2 party system was to have representatives from each side elected, and the intended result would be that actual GOVERNING would be done through a series of compromises, thereby proportionally enacting some interests of all, but not all interests of some. Real governing should be done from the middle. But when the money and power come from the extremes in the form of lobbies and corporations, esp following the Citizens United decision, it's impossible because our elected officials become beholden to their donors, not their constituents. Both parties are guilty of this, and the result is gridlock, venom, polarization.

Please vote, Swistle, even if you don't vote for one of the 2 major parties. If nothing else, use your vote to help fix the system. As was said before, too many people have fought and died for the right to vote in this country and across the world. It would be a disgrace for us to throw away this basic right. Plus, what fun is it if you can't complain about our government because you don't participate in it?

Clare said...

I live in New Zealand and we have a proportional representational system as described above. I personally think it's great. One party never gets enough votes to govern alone so has to form coalitions with one or more of the smaller parties. That means we get new ideas via the smaller parties and the government stays fairly moderate because it's always one of the two main parties in power (who are both only a wee bit left/right of centre). It also means that the people get a greater say between elections because small parties won't vote for something that is unpopular so they will get in again. Also, while the Queen of England is technically sovereign (as represented by our Governer General) they are just a figure head and only meant to step in as a last resort in case of disaster. Ireland have a similar system but with a figure head president in place. That also seems to work well.

Jennifer (ponderosa) said...

To my mind the problem is not two parties, but 320 million people. I can't really believe this country holds itself together.

Meanwhile the commenters have convinced me to vote for a third party candidate.

Also? Robert Heinlein, who -- ok, Robert Heinlein, questionable character, but -- he had an idea for a two-part legislature, one which passes laws and one which unpasses laws. I totally love the idea of unpassing laws. Wouldn't that be fun? Everyone gets to research current laws which ought to be stricken from the books & throw them up to their representative. It would be so much more comprehensible than the additive, 200-years' worth that we have now.

Daycare Girl said...

I agree completely!!! And after reading the comments I think I want to vote for a third candidate and then move to New Zealand.

clueless but hopeful mama said...

Swistle- When you found your country (Swistelandia?) (United States of Swistle?) (People's Republic of Swistle?)

Okay, I'll stop now. My point is: I'll move there! Theoretical, cooperative, reasonable proportional representation sounds blissful.

DARE TO DREAM.