Darrell Berkheimer: What will it take to get real political reform?
April 14, 2017
It's obvious to anyone who spends much time reading about current events that we are seeing more political activism across our nation as a result of the disgust and disappointment with our leading politicians.
And all of that activism prompts two major questions:
Will it be enough to stir Congress members and our president into genuinely becoming more responsive to the needs and wants of our citizens?
And can the various factions of those activists cooperate and compromise enough to foster the changes that are wanted and needed?
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We have seen the revulsion that's resulted from the divisiveness created by our two major political parties, and the deep disappointment — even loathing by some — over the many contradictory statements issued by President Donald Trump and members of his administration.
We all have noticed the throngs who participated in marches, demonstrations and protests since our November election, and we've seen the creation of a nationwide Indivisible movement and many local Indivisible groups.
In addition, who has not noticed the Resist Trump movement and the rebellion organization called "Our Revolution," initiated by Bernie Sanders?
And now we're reading about people wanting to move out of the U.S. — especially to Canada and Latin American nations. One of the latest such reports cites the more than 4,000 U.S. citizens who responded to a simple Facebook invitation to move to Canada's frigid Cape Breton Island.
Another result has been the mushrooming numbers of those who want to run for political offices – especially among women, and through a new organization called the Centrist Project.
Emily's list has announced a veritable tsunami of women who are seeking support in their desire to run for elective offices. Ellen R. Malcolm, founder and chair of the board, reported that in just four months more than 10,000 women contacted Emily's List about becoming candidates.
Of course the disgust with the two political parties dates back to the gridlock early in Barack Obama's presidency. It spawned what is now the largest "party" in America — those who list "no party" or who call themselved Independents.
The discontent with the two major parties also prompted the creation of the Modern Whigs Party, plus some renewed interest and protest voting for both the Green and Libertarian candidates. Some pundits observed that third party candidates drew enough protest votes in key states to cause Hillary Clinton to lose those states.
And now we have a reported growing interest in the Centrist Project, which hopes to tap into the dissatisfaction with the two major parties. The project's announced goal is to elect a small band of independents to the U.S. Senate — enough to force compromise between Republicans and Democrats.
About 50 project members gathered in Chicago during the last week of March for a day-long strategy meeting, according to Yahoo News, which noted it was granted exclusive access to the event.
The Yahoo story noted attendees heard updates from activists in states where independents have had some success so far: Alaska, Oregon and Maine.
Meanwhile the Modern Whig Party reported its numbers are growing as it announced ambitious plans to field local candidates this year, state and congressional candidates in 2018 and 2019, and a presidential candidate by 2020.
Dale Ritchie, national chair of the Modern Whigs, said, "We will keep growing and getting stronger and more influential as a party. The end goal is to grow large enough to gain ballot access in all 50 states in 2020."
And now, as I cite all of these activist activities, doesn't it appear obvious that we have too many factions going in different directions, but wanting some of the same results?
Have we been paying attention to all who have been stating and writing about the need for civility and respect, and the need to listen to the views of others?
Are many of us just mouthing platitudes that we're not willing to act upon?
Isn't it obvious — that unless many of these factions can find some common ground, can show us they can cooperate and compromise, and perhaps even merge — that they simply will be wasting enormous efforts doomed to only minor successes?
I think the vast majority of us simply want some decent action on our serious social and political problems — and that we don't like the extremism we see at either end.
From my perspective, not until the Modern Whigs, Centrist Project, Indivisibles movement, Emily's List, and many Independents are willing to meet, agree and merge into a viable third party — not until then — will we really see the results that most of us want.
Both the Republicans and Democrats appear too tainted by big money, or the wont of it, to enact the reforms needed and wanted.
Yes, a viable third party really is needed.
Failing that, little will be accomplished without the various factions realizing they need to cooperate.
Darrell Berkheimer, who lives in Grass Valley, is a frequent contributor to The Union. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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