Real v. Ideal: The system and how Nader is a nutter

Gabrielle Arrowood

Whether we like it or not, there is no denying that we live in a two-party system. No, it was never intended to be this way. And no, it is not written down as such. But it evolved into what we have now.

Why? Well, my guess is that the Founding Fathers were so worried about too much regulation and control, so afraid of being no better than the British system which they had just rejected, that they gave too much freedom to the states and their own governments. After all, that’s why we have that little interim period in our nation’s history that nobody ever really talks about: the period of the Articles of Confederation. They didn’t work. That’s why we have a Constitution.

I know the libertarians, especially you Ron Paul kids, don’t agree, but sometimes the federal government needs to be able to do something. And Ron Paul wants a system (or lack thereof) close to the AoC, which is why he wouldn’t be an effective president. What would he be president of if he had his way? The only thing he’d be effective at is dismantling the government…

Sorry. I digress.

The Federalist Papers allude to the problem of a majority-take-all political system. Federalist Number Ten. If only we had listened to Madison’s warning and put some regulations and stipulations on political parties into the Constitution. Even back then, those men were brilliant enough to see that a plurality system, while in its ideal form is wonderful and gives everyone a voice, would be disastrous in terms of having multiple parties.

In the middle of the last century, Maurice Duverger published a series of papers pinning this gravitation towards a two-party system, and the concept is now named after him as “Duverger’s Law.” We see it played out here in the United States, and other countries experienced it. A “plural” system actually becomes a “dual” system. But the difference between those other countries and ours? They changed their election laws, and now they have more parties represented within their governments.

Yeah, yeah, small government is better, right? Look, there are all sorts of countries that have what we would call a “fairer” system specifically because they have regulations on how many representatives from their multiple parties can and cannot be allowed in their districts or houses or what-have-you.

Look at the U.K., the very empire T.J. and all of those guys rebelled against. Its “mixed-member system” enables Scotland, Ireland and Wales to have decent representation within Parliament. Canada has five provinces that are going for a proportionally representative system; New Zealand itself already has it. Germany, you go! Pretty much all of Europe, really, has some codified form of proportional or mixed representation, wherein it is on the books that different parties be represented. None of this Code of the Brethren, “guidelines” stuff.

Solid, systematic methods that work much better than ours.

I’m not saying I hate America or her system at all. And I’m not saying the Founding Fathers were stupid for not heeding the warnings in the Federalist Papers. George, T.J., Ben, James: they had a lot on their plate, for crying out loud. But I think we need to be realistic and admit when something isn’t working the way it’s supposed to.

I think both of our leading parties are full of crap when they say they want to give voices to the marginalized and go across the aisle. If they really felt that way, they’d make some changes to the laws that get people elected. But that would undermine their authority, so that just isn’t going to happen. The only way for more representation to happen, because of how the American system evolved, is to have the very electoral process itself changed.

Until then, nutters like Ralph Nader have no chance. And all they do is get in the way and make the already flawed system even more flawed. Remember the 2000 election? There are a lot of reasons Gore lost, but there is no denying that one was because he lost a chunk of votes to Nader. I’m not saying this as a bitter Democrat, but as an objective viewer of the situation. If those districts that went to Nader had gone anywhere else besides his direction, it would have been towards Gore; and then there would have been no way that even the Florida debacle could have denied Gore the election. Yes, in retrospect we realize Gore won the popular vote (although, do you realize Honest Abe didn’t?); but he could have won the Electoral College if Nader hadn’t been so stubborn (and I’m not saying Nader took EC votes, either: but again, some districts would have gone Blue without him in there, and that led to EC votes going to Bush).

I think Nader has issues. He swears he’s out for the good of the country, but if he really was, he’d campaign for the lesser of two evils. If he really cared about the U.S., he’d pick the candidate, Republican or Democrat, that he prefers and promote them with everything he has. But he’s too stubborn to admit that he has no shot and is just undermining the system. Because right or wrong, good or bad, that’s the system.

His ego needs to be put aside. I love the old Nader: I’m quite grateful for my seatbelts, for example. But he has tarnished his legacy and proven himself to be just an egomaniac that can’t bow out gracefully. He’s so wrapped up in his own little world that he fails to see the real world in which he lives.

(And honestly, how in touch with reality can a man his age that has never even had a wife, doesn’t own a car, and still has a butt-load of money be? How can he possibly relate to the majority of the “American public” he claims to be a champion for? My “champion” would at least be divorced; or if they weren’t heterosexual, then they would have had a long-term relationship at some point, since this country doesn’t universally allow gay marriage.)

Yes, in an ideal system, he’d be able to campaign and have a decent run for it and potentially even win. But that isn’t the system America has. We have a plural system, which amounts to a two-party system, which equals a marginalizing system.