Does America need a new “Third Party”? Yes, now.
Is there one on the horizon? Well, sort of. No, not the “Tea Party”.
Between quadrennial presidential elections, Americans hear little about minor political parties, dubbed “third” parties by the media. Oh, there have been abortive attempts over the decades to launch new, major parties . . . for example, Theodore Roosevelt with his Bull Moose Party and Ross Perot with his Reform Party. They failed in the polling places then fizzled out of existence. Now, there is none.
There is, however, a nascent attempt to create a digitized, 21st-century sort of political party . . . or non-party, and it’s worth a look. It’s called “Americans Elect”, and it has some significant money behind it.
At first glance, Americans Elect portends the worst of the worst. Its foundation is the whim of the moment as expressed by a majority of self-selected respondents via the Internet; a foundation itself based upon . . . based upon . . . based upon who knows what. This foundation of political sand likely will be shifted continuously by the shifting hot air from political blowhards, reflecting results from the latest polls. Such fluidity runs counter to the Founding Fathers’ aversion to the fickleness of the mob . . . an aversion as intense as, or even more intense than, their aversion to the status quo of aristocracy.
Do the United States of America need a political organization placing onto ballots in all fifty of those states the names of candidates whose selection reflects a combination of their personal charisma and respondents’ fickle sentimentalism? Americans Elect might sound democratic, and it even might be democratic; but, if successful, its consequences likely will be increased political, economic, and social instability. Need it necessarily be that way? No.
Americans Elect taps into a growing dissatisfaction of creative, productive Americans with the current political structure. Americans know that something is wrong with the country, but they don’t know how to make it right.
So, yes, America needs a change but one based upon something more solid than gaseous, ill-informed opinion expelled with a keystroke. Okay, if not Americans Elect, what?
How about a new political party . . . or non-party, if you must . . . employing basic, simple-to-understand Scientific Methodology not merely the glitz of dazzling digital technology? Even a non-party could function as a catalyst for real reform of the currently precarious state of the Union. Ironically, that catalyst might be Americans Elect or something else similar.
Say that Americans Elect employs standard, scientifically-based questionnaires for all candidates willing to complete them; those unwilling would not be eligible for the ballot. The questionnaires themselves reflect the methodology of behavioral science as it evolved over more than a century. They address the most important issues of the day related to the four cornerstones of any secular society . . . government including economic policy, law, education, and medical delivery.[1 (www.inescapableconsequences.com)]
The Internet of today obviates politicians’ justifiable aversion of yesterday to such questionnaires as a consequence of their repeatedly being misquoted out of context. Their answers are published electronically in full and are readily available for anyone in the world to read anytime.
Of what would each questionnaire consist? Given the particular issue in question, it would ask each candidate the following: To define that issue with specificity in terms of the ABC’s (Antecedents-Behaviors-Consequences). To target goals with specificity and objectivity. To design a plan with specificity. To provide the means of objective accountability to measure the real consequences of having put the plan into play. Specificity, objectivity, and accountability . . . the three guidelines of Science.
The answers would be free from generality, the camouflage of most politicians; free from emotionally-laden subjectivity, the fuel of demagogues; and free from vague references to the future, the evasive tactic embraced by so many political candidates. Answers structured not amorphous. Relevant not irrelevant. Responsive not evasive. Direct not tangential.
The ideal is freedom of choice based upon wisdom not whim. As with most ideals, it’s a goal approached but never fulfilled.
How, then, do these questionnaires benefit the individual voter with regard to approaching that goal? By moving the focus from The Who and The What to The How . . . something that most political candidates avoid, viewing it as political suicide.
The Who refers to the candidate . . . important but hardly decisive. Think male, tall, handsome, affable, witty, and charismatic versus male, short, homely, ill-tempered, pedantic, and nondescript.
The What refers to the goals spouted by the candidate . . . also important but not decisive and often deceptive. Remember “Read my lips . . . no new taxes!” spouted Bush the First in 1988; how about “Shovel-ready jobs now!” spouted Mr. Obama twenty years later. The consequences speak for themselves.
The How refers to the specific, objective plan with accountability built-in, whereby The Who will fulfill The What . . . decisive but seldom heard. Try squeezing The How out of your favorite Who when he spouts The What.
It may be 2012, but it’s still only January . . . not too late for the folks at Americans Elect to adopt a scientific orientation to their political endeavor. Might they or someone else do so? With encouragement from you, the voter, who knows?
1. Moss, GR: Inescapable Consequences (Chapter 11). Beverly Hills CA: LifeMAX Press (2009).