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Cookie-Cutter Politics

I must confess; this November will be the first time I will vote in the Presidential Elections.

In previous elections I viciously debated which candidate I should support.  The rugged individualism of the Republicans spurred my dreams while the sound theories and progressive stance of the Democrats captured my earthly pragmatism.  As each Election Day came I dithered back and forth.  I could never decide, I never voted.  I may not have voted because I was distressed by the increasingly polarized extremes of the two-party system.  I may also not have voted because I was underage.  We may never know.

This year the debate is between Obama and Romney.  I can already hear the next year of commentary, with regular exclamations of “I wish there was a third-party to vote for!”  This is a legitimate issue.  America’s polarized politics have grouped large coalitions of values into strange alliances.  This is the only way each side can garner enough support to pass any laws.  It makes all politicians seem a little too uniform.  Why do Democrats always advocate for gun control?  Why do Republicans always oppose weakening any immigration laws?

The simple answer is politicians have no alternative.

The Two-Party system strong arms politicians on both sides of the aisle into a cookie-cutter mold.  Only moderates, those who make everyone happy by fitting the textbook description of the Democrat/Republican are legitimate candidates because only they fit all the values of each of their respective parties and win the crucial nominations.  Radicals, who could make world-changing reforms, are hedged out by the system which eliminates anyone with even one misaligned value.  I imagine there are plenty of Democrats who support gun rights and Republicans who would be willing to welcome immigrants.  These men will never see office because they do not fit the mold and there is no alternative.

The American Two-Party dilemma is only those who cannot reform are elected into office.  Those with flexible ideology, who could make real reform, are shunned because they will always have at least one taboo.  It is support of the entire party or no support at all in our polarized system.  We are left with similar men with the same ideas, the same convictions, and the same restraints.

Perhaps I was right to dither; both answers were always partially wrong for me.  I feel this is the issue every American has.

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