Letter: Get rid of political parties
Have you ever imagined how much easier it would be for this country to govern if there were no political parties? Think about it. If there were no Democratic or Republican party, there would be no organized partisanship in Congress. There would be no national, state or local party apparatus to dictate who we have on the ballot to vote for. There would be no national or statewide fundraising efforts for their candidates, no need for Super PAC fundraising, no need for never-ending television ads, and all candidates would be required to file for ballot access as unaffiliated candidates. More importantly, conservative and liberal organizations would lose their influence on members of Congress since members could vote as individuals and not be required to follow a party line. Imagine how much more effective the Congress would be under this scenario.
The two major parties completely control our political process. Anyone wanting to run for any office must be nominated and selected at the local and state levels to be placed on the ballot as a Democrat or Republican. Currently there is little chance that a person can be elected if they run as anything else. There is a large difference in what is required to get on the ballot in Virginia, depending on whether one runs unaffiliated, as a minor party candidate or as a Democrat or Republican. One merely has to be running as a Democrat or Republican to get on the ballot. Others must obtain a large number of signatures and be certified by the state to get on the ballot. It’s not quite a level playing field.
Of course, those running as a Democrat or Republican have many other advantages over other candidates. Money from national, state and local levels are made available. Super PACs also contribute. While not legally obligated, those running as Democrats and Republicans are expected to support party objectives and platforms. Therein lies the problem. Incumbents lose their ability to vote their conscience or fully support their constituents. They are expected to vote as their leadership asks them to.
Even though voters may not like their position on major issues, there is no real risk to the incumbent, since anyone voting against an incumbent is at a great disadvantage as they cannot match the huge resources of either major party during reelections. This system allows incumbents to essentially serve for life; however, if voters get mad enough, they can make changes (as we saw with Congressman Cantor).
How hard would it be to change the current system of party control? Perhaps the easiest way to do it would be for voters to vote for anyone other than a Democrat or Republican in upcoming elections. Vote for an unaffiliated candidate or one running as a minor party candidate. If the major parties suddenly see the voters leaving their party, it might give them something to think about. It may take several elections to make our voices heard, but over time it could be done. As the influence of the two major parties shrink, the influence of the American people will grow. At that point, we can get rid of the dysfunction in Washington and get back to effective governing.
James Store, Va.