The common tribute to our form of government is that it is the best form of government in the world. You can doubt it, sweat it, suffer from it, but all Americans swear that nothing was ever invented that could compare to it. If you are a typical patriotic American, you will fume with contempt like a religious fanatic at the suggestion that maybe like a lot of other old clichés this one is full of holes too. Yet only 43% of Americans ever vote because most will tell you that whoever is elected will make no difference to them.
Apparently, almost everything in the world makes a difference to Americans except who runs their government. If stores stopped selling their favorite pair of sneakers, it would make a difference to them. If their favorite football player got traded, or if their favorite toothbrush were no longer sold, or if their favorite lamp were replaced, it would cause them 10 times as great a headache as any change in public office.
People see no contradiction in claiming that our system of government is the best at the same time as they say, “Who cares who is elected, they all do nothing anyway.” How great could our system of government be if whoever serves in it could make absolutely no difference in your life?
Blame it on the two-party system. It will prevent dictatorship and guarantee democracy, but it will also guarantee that the government will get nothing accomplished. Since there is a presidential election every four years, the opposition party has to start campaigning twenty minutes after the last election. Obviously, the only way to get back in power is to prove that the newly elected President is a failure who can accomplish nothing. It therefore becomes a full-time job to spend the next four years on a search and destroy mission.
The opposition becomes like a mob of detectives trying to find out what the President might do and then to kill any chance he has of doing it. If he is lucky enough to get anything started, it becomes their business to prove that it is either worthless or hopeless. If it cures a cold, they will claim it causes pneumonia, if it cures pneumonia they’ll say it endangers your life by raising your cholesterol, if it lowers your cholesterol they’ll argue it raises your blood pressure. They will try by any means to defame, decry, and destroy any attempts by the President to achieve anything that would be applauded by the people.
That is why the whole concept of the two-party system is a hopeless case because the opposition party is in a position of a total conflict of interest. No judge in a court of law would be allowed to hear a case if he were in any way in a position to profit from the result, whether the profit would be in money, popularity or even for a better table at a delicatessen. He would excuse himself from the premises and even avoid the neighborhood so he could never be accused of any connection to the proceedings. If this is true with a judge, why isn’t it with a congressman? What could create a greater conflict of interest to him than the possibility of losing the future of his life in government?
It is no accident that the only pledge more often broken than the vow not to commit adultery is the pledge by the politicians with reference to “term limits.” If you heard a list of their excuses and explanations about why they swore to a two-term limit and suddenly decided to violate their pledge, change their minds, and run again, you would realize that they have as much honor as a pig in heat.
Could you expect anybody with that level of morality to be more concerned about what could help the people than about what can help him get elected?
It is no accident that the two-party system has stifled and destroyed almost any attempt at passing any legislation. Isn’t it amazing that America, the richest country in the world, is one of the only countries in the world that still does not have national health insurance? Why is it that we have billions of dollars for planes, bombs and wars, but if an elderly man needs a prescription drug to save his life, somehow the richest country in the world is still locked in a debate between the two parties about whether it will unbalance the budget in order to pay for it? Why is it that we have billions of dollars to rebuild complete countries after every war, but a bigger percentage of American cities are full of more slums than any city in all of Europe? Why is it that we can afford everything in the world, but the cost of decent housing will somehow screw up the budget even more than the cost of prescription drugs? Obviously, the threat of passing any such legislation is not a threat to the budget; it is a threat only to the opposition party. That is why America has failed to address these issues for the last thirty years, because every failure becomes the best weapon for the opposition party in its campaigning for the next election.
Would a corporation ever show a profit if it functioned on the basis of a two-party system? If the CEO of a company had the support of the majority of stockholders and there was a Tom Daschle undermining, dismembering, and destroying everything he did, that Daschle would be considered worse than a traitor, and they would have to call out the National Guard to protect him. Yet every time Bush proposes anything, you can depend on Tom Daschle to be on television within ten minutes to tell you why it is unworkable, inconceivable and will destroy America either tonight or not later than a week from Thursday. Watching him on television talking about Bush sounds more frightening than President Bush talking about the Al Qaeda. Daschle refers to Bush as though he were an escaped terrorist who is loose among us and we must find a way to put an end to him before it is all over for the survival of our country.
No matter what Bush proposes Daschle immediately announces that it is only another program to favor the rich. Even if it was a cure for the measles, he would find a way to imagine that since the rich have more measles than anybody else Bush is replacing all the funds that the middle class could have used to buy more socks. Daschle always sounds tough and outraged until reporters start asking questions and suddenly he looks as befuddled as a child who lost his parents in Disneyland. You cannot blame him. He is only doing his job as the head of the opposition party.
If you want to know why the two-party system is a hopeless case watch Tom Daschle on television. While he poses as the most compassionate fighter for the ordinary people, he spends all his time preventing the passage of any bill that could help them. But he is only doing his job. After all, he is the minority leader of the United States Senate. He is also the chief hypocrite of the United States of America.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
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