Monday, October 7, 1996

Week of 10/07/1996

Failure of the 2-Party System
If Clinton gets re-elected, who’s really to blame?
- by David Matthews 2

If credence can be given to the vast array of political polls available, it looks like Bill Clinton will be re-elected to the office of President of the United States. (Actually I have little credence to polls, but that is another story.) Given the sagging results in those polls, republican supporters and pundits have been crying foul. "What about character?" they scream. "What about ethics?"

But if Bob Dole, the supposed champion of the Republican Party, is unable to win in November, would it really be because the voters don’t care about the character of the candidates?

On the onset, the political platform of the Dole/Kemp campaign seems to reflect what Americans want: less government, more freedom, lower taxes. But what does it mean when Bob Dole talks about "less government" and "more freedom?"

Lurking in the shadows of the first two principles are two words that are in apparent contradiction to less government and more freedom - "family values." Or at least family values as defined by people like those in the Christian Coalition and other religious and social organizations who have run roughshod through the GOP and dominated that party. The same group that has pushed for censorship through the Communications Decency Act. The same group that believes that a piece of cloth (in this case a flag) is more important than the principles it represents. The same group that believes that the principle of "separation of church and state" only means not having an "officially established" national religion. The same group that feels they have the right to tell you how to live your life.

Is that what Bob Dole calls "more freedom?"

Then there’s the charge that Bob Dole is "tough on crime." I myself feel this is nothing more than the political version of "my phallus is bigger than your phallus." One side says they are tougher on crime, the other side says they’re really tougher. One side wants more 100 more cops, the other side says they want 1000 more cops. One side says they want "three strikes and you’re out," while the other side says "That’s weak! I want only one strike and then execute them!" Bob Dole says "I want to use the National Guard to help catch drug lords," while Bill Clinton says "Oh yeah? Well I’m using my authority as president to go so far as to crack down on tobacco. Can you beat that?" Both sides making promises for more and more crackdowns, more cops, more prisons, and more laws to crack down on criminals. That means spending on more government officials and agencies, and if not on the federal level then mandated at the state level.

Is that what Bob Dole calls "less government?"

Clearly when Bob Dole talks about "less government" and "more freedom" he is not telling the truth. So when it comes to "character," Bob Dole isn’t a saint in that regard.

But perhaps the fault in Bob Dole’s campaign lies not entirely with his arguments but rather that he hasn’t provided a strong alternative to Bill Clinton.

Much like Dole, Clinton is a career politician. The only difference between the two is that while Clinton is an overt politician, Dole is a back-room politician. His is the art of negotiation, while Clinton’s skill is in trying to be all things to all people. So there would be little overall difference between a Clinton Administration and a Dole Administration. Either way, the voters would be stuck with a career politician, and the status quo.

So what would be the alternative? The only real alternative lies with third parties, the very group of people the two parties both ridicule and fear. And perhaps that is why both parties work hard to discredit competition, and keep them in the dark as often as possible.

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