Sunday, June 01, 2008

Why I Don't Like Parties


I mean political parties, that is, not necessarily party-parties, though I'm not always crazy about those either unless they include close, goofy friends and smiling family members. Anything bigger than that, and parties become nerve wracking events that require my stepping outside of my comfort zone which I'm sometimes loathe to do during my down-time. If I am going to make myself uncomfortable, I would rather accomplish something. See? I TOLD you I am a complete bore.

That being admitted, let me give you some good reasons for disliking political parties.

1. A party's goal is to get its candidate elected. Because of this, too many times the focus turns away from the issues and back towards the party itself. This focus includes irritating elements such as gossip, mini-power-plays, in-fighting, money collecting, and other things that I wouldn't elect (no pun intended) as my favorite pastimes.

2. Because the American party system is so strong, virtually no citizen can voice an opinion without being labeled a party member even if he/she (or in this case, me) is not a party member. Parties have become a way of categorizing vocal and even silent people whether or not they endorse a particular party or even know anyone in a party.

3. Parties promote group behavior. Group behavior is scary, especially if a party expects blind loyalty to a candidate.

4. Did I mention parties ask for money?
Now here come the disclaimers.

The descriptions above often apply to groups other than political parties. In fact, most groups have a certain amount of tension because they are, well, groups. But political parties have a different flavor to them, something like sour-dough bread before it has been been baked. Some people like sour-dough-dough, and that's fine, but I don't. In fact, I'm not even sure I like it after it has been cooked, though a bread bowl of it filled with New England clam chowder can be another thing all together.

Disclaimer number two: I know people who actively participate in parties. Prior to moving here, I didn't, but now I do. So this posting doesn't mean I don't like people who belong to parties or that I think candidates endorsed by parties are evil. That would be ridiculous. And it would mean I'd have to dislike more than half the population in this region and never vote for anyone again. Besides, listening to "party talk" can even be interesting, but still, I wouldn't want to "belong" to one.

Second disclaimer, which is actually more of an emphasis of what I just said but I have to say it again because I know people label me incorrectly as a party member.

In case anyone missed it, I'm not a party person. I don't belong to a party, nor do I ever see myself wanting to. I'm independent. I don't mean I belong to the Independent Party. I mean I don't belong to any party at all. I don't vote along party-lines, and I rather resent not being able to participate in both the Democratic and Republican primaries. I realize there is some numeric reasoning for not being able to do so, but it still seems to me that when you go to a primary, you should vote for Democrat, Republican, and Independent candidates all at once. And if Libertarians want to be separate, I suppose we should add them as well. Why can't we choose all our candidates from every party in the primaries? It doesn't seem right that we can't.

Don't worry. Overthrowing the voting and party system falls into my interest-realm about as much as a black-tie party would. So the world is safe from my ranting extensively on yet another topic, but it might be something to consider if others agree, though if they wanted to unite on the issue, I couldn't join the organization at this time because there are, after all, designated hours of daylight that my body happens to pay attention to.

But really, wouldn't it be great if there were no parties, just people resolving issues and running purely on their platforms as opposed to their parties' donations, likes and dislikes?

When I vote, I am choosing a person to fix the problems in our nation, state, county, etc. And no offense to people in parties, but when I vote, I'm not choosing a group of pom-pom waving enthusiasts singing, "Hey! He's with us!" or "She's on our side!" I'm choosing someone I hope will be a caring, intelligent problem solver. I don't care about the confetti and champagne. I want someone who is going to give people what they need to live in a peaceful, productive society.

You'd think it would be that simple.

Nothing is simple, of course, and even when it is, we seem to complicate it out of some compulsion to confuse ourselves and the issues, our nation and the rest of the world.

My hero, Henry David Thoreau said, "Simplify, simplify, simplify."

But political parties just seem to make us "Classify, classify, classify."

I don't like that.
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