Disclaimer: The following article is a bizarre exploration briefly documenting my own thought processes as I, a self-proclaimed Rankin County Republican, daytime computer geek and mediocre math student, attempt to construct my own simplified conception of a political model. Wearing special 3-D glasses is not necessary, but as I have finally come to learn (with some help from others), removing cloudy partisan lenses will help.
The French mathematician/philosopher René Descartes wanted a fundamental truth that would be a foundation from which he could begin his analytical work. He realized that the most fundamental thing of all would be to prove his own existence. This lead to his best-known philosophical statement: "Cogito ergo sum" or "I think, therefore I am."
Although it's not a philosophical discipline, computer science is largely a study of logic. Boolean logic, the basis for most modern circuit design, is easily represented by the binary system, composed of 0 and 1, symbolizing two different states. We the people, in our two-party political system, are represented by the binary system of Red and Blue.
Binary systems work well in the machine world—circuits are either high voltage or low voltage (on or off)—but in real life we don't deal with absolute clean-cut truths for every problem. Humans are capable of multi-valued logic and reasoning that is approximate and debatable. In real life, a diverse group of people (whether it be a jury, legislative body or voters) contributes independent thought is the best route to solving problems.
I know of people on both ends of the political spectrum who seem to delight in confrontation, but not for the sake of problem solving. Trying to exalt one's personal cognitive excellence in an alpha-dog manner contributes nothing toward true and open deliberation or to an effective problem-solving mechanism.
As a visual person, I see the political spectrum as being within a geometric ideology plane. I picture one end approaching the liberal limit and the other end approaching the conservative limit. And I see an infinite amount of granularity between those two limits.
In our two-party political system, we try to rubber-sheet a political plane over that ideology plane with the binary values of Democrat or Republican. It doesn't always produce a good fit for those caught in the middle. I would go so far as to suggest that people that vote strictly along party lines without exercising some independent thought are doing a disservice to themselves and to our political and social systems.
Now, add in an actuality plane perpendicular to the ideology plane and its closely mapped political plane. The actuality plane provides the route toward independent thought. It cuts through that political layer and adds depth to the model. The farther you travel away from ideology and towards independent thought, the greater the potential for loss of the support network of the liberal/conservative layer and the greater the potential for loss of the financial backing of the Democrat/Republican layer.
Make no mistake: If you are backed by one of the major political parties, they have money to give. Each party raised practically a $1 billion during the 2008 election cycle. That's a lot of 0s (and 1s, for those still stuck in binary). That must be why so many career politicians think it necessary to stick so closely to base.
Is there any chance to break the two-party political system in our modern democracy? I don't know. Big money is betting against it. Also, it seems to be human nature to seek some form of alliance with like-minded individuals. But if it is possible, it will start by more voters—and more elected public officials—recognizing the value of a multi-dimensional, gradient scale of independent thought.
I think that the people should define the party, and not vice-versa. It's worth noting that John McCain's 2008 campaign staff recognized the potential of painting him as ... OK, I'll say it ... a maverick. I'm just saying that perhaps there is hope for a political party to recognize the willingness of their own candidate disagreeing with them as being an attractive attribute. It's a mixed message, however, when your maverick days are far behind you, and your running mate is as polarizing as Sarah Palin. But that's a different subject for a different day.
Let's think outside the two-dimensional political plane, because the farther you travel down the independent axis, the deeper your political model becomes. If I could make a couple small changes to the Descartes' famous quote it would read: "I think independently; therefore, my existence is viable."
I agree with you Scott and we plan to do just that after we kick some more republican booty in November. The republicans have driven the car into the Gulf of Mexico and now that Obama has gotten it out and pointed it toward dry land and prosperity around the corner or beyond the hills, republicans have the gall to ask for the keys again. Unfortunately, the South is full of sick and dumb nuts who will let them drive again if they can. If republicans had any sense at all they would vote Democrat too now that we're still so close to drowning at their hands. A fool is a fool; so, the devastation of the last administration is to continue a while longer if people vote against their own interest. Personally, I wouldn't let a republican lead me to the John.
Nonetheless, good work, Scott.
I didn't mean to scare all the republicans away. This really is a good column, but as Scott and I both know well he won't get any agreement or takers from his side of the fence. They don't allow moderation, dissent, compassion or independence over there. If the Democrats lose the House and/or Senate this just might be the one thing to cause timid Obama to put on his a__kicking shoes and take no prisoners for a change. He doesn't like confrontations or to face the enemy and look it straight in the eyes before killing it. How can anyone look at the face of Jimbo Boehner and not want to whip his ass. Even Jesus would be tempted!