Political parties thrive by emphasizing social and economic issues. These are wedge issues – such as pro-choice vs. pro-life – designed to drive people apart. These types of wedge issues present citizens with extreme alternatives that don’t actually solve any problems. Instead, they promote the view that “We are right; they are wrong.” In fact, approximately one third of Republicans and Democrats see the other party as “a threat to national well-being.” We call this “pseudo-competition.”
Pseudo-Competition Appeals to Ideological Extremes
Republican and Democratic establishments pretend to compete on solving important national problems when, in reality, the real focus is on blame, negativity and unworkable ideas that appeal to ideological extremes.
In 2016, a 95% reelection rate, despite a 17% approval rate.
The facts testify to the success of this system for the politicians: In 2016, a 95 percent reelection rate, despite a 17 percent overall approval rate. Republican and Democrat candidates do not need to run on a record of genuine accomplishment. Under the rules of pseudo-competition, they only need to be viewed as the lesser of two evils. The competition is waged in terms of energizing your base and suppressing turnout for the other party.
How Do We Move Our Political System More Toward the Middle?
The current rules make it difficult to run a viable campaign outside of this two-party monopoly as well as restricts the range of candidates offered within each party. And that’s why we created Change the Rules. As a non-partisan, non-profit, we channel contributions to eight different organizations to implement strategies that change the rules of our political process.
With a single donation, you can support a set of eight organizations that are making the biggest difference. There are three shifts happening to change the rules of the U.S. political system:
- Open competition
- Current rules: A two-party monopoly practices pseudo-competition
- New rules: Open up competition within the Democratic National Committee and the Republican National Committee so that Independents can compete on a level playing field
- Every vote counts
- Current rules: Layers of rules that limit “who matters” to politicians
- New rules: All voters can have a meaningful impact on selecting and electing candidates and holding them accountable for results
- Proper role for money
- Current rules: A system that promotes big money to play a dominant role in elections and governance
- New rules: De-emphasize the role of big money by making it more transparent and less linked to lobbying and jobs
Author: Tom Curren, Founder and Manager of Change the Rules