There are two political parties in the United States – ok, there are two political parties that matter in the United States, but in reality, much like dialects within a language, there are numerous divisions within two main parties. Terms like social liberals, progressives, neoconservatives, etc are usually thrown around by the media as if they are all representative of the two parties. The notion of the past that the country is mostly center-right or pseudo-conservative has been somewhat tarnished by the meteoric rise of the Democrats in the aftermath of Republican failures. So I have seldom asked myself, can there ever be a true centrist that can postulate decisions based on the best that each side can offer. Consequently, if there are more centrists like me, why isn’t there a party that preaches such seemingly rational thought?
The answer to me is simple – political standing is often more of a matter of interpretation than actual execution. The true left and right exist only in San Francisco and Salt Lake City, the rest of the country is simply affiliated to the party that is closest to their ideals. We all know the broad-strokes differences in the Democratic and Republican thought processes, but we seldom postulate the same in terms of a larger set of principals that define our understanding of government. The two philosophies that predominantly dictate the measure of associativity an individual has with his political party are Individualism and Communitarianism. The Individualism school of thought holds high the right of individuals to exercise their desires without undue interference from societal rules. On the other hand, Communitarianism emphasizes the need for policies to be defined based on what is good for the society as a whole regardless of individual members’ needs and desires.
Despite the generalized underlying philosophies, the presence of numerous issues without a clear answer is what allows people to associate themselves with one party or another. For the benefit of a friend and myself, I am listing the main differences in the two parties on the issues as I understand them:
|Role of Government||Small with limited regulations||Big with lots of welfare programs|
|For the citizens||Equal opportunity but no handouts||Seeking the greater good and equality|
|Gay Marriage||Opposed for the most part||Supports civil unions, somewhat vague on marriage|
|Immigration||Send them back||Amnesty based on labor demand|
|Right to bear arms||Total favor of second amendment||Reasonable bans on most assault weapons|
|Iraq and Interventionism||We must free the world of tyranny||War is not the answer|
|Spending||No spending on anything except wars||Spend for the people and let our kids pay|
|Taxation||Low taxes for everybody||Bleed the rich a little more|
|Abortion||You can’t kill babies||Its the woman’s choice|
|Common Stereotype||Rednecks in the south||College professors and artists|
|Another Stereotype||Evangelical Christians||Smart college-educated folk|
|The Big Names||Lincoln, Roosevelt, Nixon, Bush||Jefferson, Clinton, Kennedy|
|Mascot||Elephant from 1874 Cartoon||Donkey from 1837 Cartoon|
|Namesake Villains||Rush Limbaugh||Michael Moore|
|Namesake Cheerleaders||Sean Hannity and Bill O’Reilly||Keith Olbermann and Paul Begala|
At the end of the day, the problem with a coin is that there are only two sides to it; you just can’t flip it and ask for a little bit of both sides. You pick a side based on the issue which is closest to your heart; like most philosophical questions, there is no one right answer. For many of us, taking the middle ground is for the most part the same as chickening out of taking a stance. There is a certain degree of disservice to the citizens when the two sides are so polarized and establishing a rational middle path is often at odds with ideals of half the citizens. Nonetheless, the two-party system is still a little easier to participate in than the two hundred party system in my home country. WakeÂ up politicians, there is a reason why majority of Americans consider themselves center-right or center-left, they simply don’t believe in one right answer. So I say, we don’t need more parties, we need more rationality; we don’t need policy based on abstract beliefs, we need policy based on empirical proofs; we don’t need arrogance and justification of mistakes, we need responsibility and repentance of mistakes.
I don’t want the welfare, I don’t want the bloodshed, I don’t want to pay taxes, I don’t want wastage, I don’t want to be supressed, I don’t want traditions re-written, I dont want smooth talkers, I don’t want enablers, I don’t want shadow warriors,Â I don’t want loudspeakers. I am a centrist, I am a rationalist.