If you break down the country by political parties, you have the Democrats representing primarily the ideological far left and the poor and Republicans representing primarily the ideological far right and the wealthy. The membership of each party is about 30% of Americans. These groups sometimes refer to themselves as conservatives and liberals but these terms have become meaningless for the simple reason that you can’t divide everyone into just two buckets.
In the middle you have those with moderate ideological beliefs; people who don’t care for either the Democrats or the Republicans and have therefore defined themselves as Independents. Moderate conservatives and moderate liberals have a lot more in common with each other than with those at the ideological extremes. About 40% of the people in the U.S. identify themselves as Independents, more than either of the two political parties, but they have no party or organizational structure to rally around.
The middle class is in the same boat. The vast majority of people in our country used to be part of the middle class but it is slowly dying out. Moderates and the middle class are synonymous and neither one has any representation in our government. As I used to say during my run for Congress, a country without a middle class is a third world country and unfortunately, that is the way we are heading if something does not change.
The major economic reason for this has to do with the fact that the middle class owns very little of the stock market anymore. About 85 percent of the market is owned by the wealthiest 10 percent. The average stock value has gone up over 600 percent since the 1970’s while employee compensation has gone up about 13 percent. Meanwhile, our government spends about $1 trillion annually in public assistance for the poor. The middle class is benefitting from none of this.
We are in desperate need of a third major political party in this country to represent moderates and the middle class. But there is a paradigm keeping this from happening. That paradigm is that we only need two major political parties in this country because that is the way it has always been. Unfortunately, having only two political parties to choose from is ripping our country apart. It is also causing all of our problems to go unsolved, such as our out-of-control national debt and climate change. The U.S. is one of only a few countries in the world to have a two-party political system and it is failing us.
As simple as it sounds, a third major centrist tie-breaker political party would allow us to solve all of our problems. In addition to this, the government would start doing things that make sense because the centrist party would be the one to determine which policies get enacted. Based on recent polling data, over 60 percent of Americans and over 70 percent of millennials agree that we need a third major centrist political party.
But nothing will happen if we don’t work to make it happen. If almost every other country in the world has a multi-party system, why can’t we? There are several fledgling efforts out there trying to accomplish this such as the Alliance Party (theallianceparty.com), the Reform Party (reformparty.org), and Represent.Us.
Besides supporting these groups, there are other things that you can do individually if you feel frustrated and frightened about what is going on in our country. Start a local group such a Facebook or Meetup group. If you are a student, start a group at your school or university. Do anything that you can to change the paradigm so that we can start to solve our many festering problems and save our democracy.