That our current political situation is unhealthy and unsustainable no one of sense could fail to see. That the roots of our government’s uncontrolled growth, the ways it has come to loom larger and larger in the once freer land it coldly leeches of vitality to strengthen itself are numerous and varied, no one of honesty could fail to admit. It is not my intent here to provide solutions for all aspects of the problem. Rather, I hope to focus on one of those roots, and thereby help to make it at least marginally harder for our elites to spit on our laws, degrade our culture, displace our people with hostile foreigners, and saddle our sons and daughters with massive debts in the process. The root at which I wish to take aim is our two-party oligarchy.
As of now, it is simply not possible for a third party to effectively challenge the oligarchy’s shared rule at any level of government. At least partially, this sad reality owes its continued existence to an illusion. As is so often the case with governments throughout the ages, the mirage of popular support creates actual (if passive) support. Stalin infamously had a policy of sending the first person to stop clapping after one of his speeches to the Gulag. So all wore a mask of joy on their face and clapped like mad, leaving each man in the crowd plagued with doubts as to how many were foolish or complacent enough to be clapping genuinely, and whose claps belied deep frustration and rage. Thus a crowd easily large enough and hostile enough to overwhelm Stalin’s guards and kill him on the spot was rendered completely innocuous.
While our Demopublican elites are as yet far from enjoying Stalin’s repressive, absolute power, they are protected in what substantial political power they enjoy by a similar deception. Like the happy faces in Stalin’s crowd (if to a lesser degree), a vote can conceal much dissatisfaction and frustration. After all, there is no way to vote for some of a candidate’s policies but not others; he is a package deal. And since there is no way to tell how many ballots for a candidate were cast with enthusiasm and how many were cast in brooding resignation of finding his opponent even worse, many a suited sociopath is permitted to masquerade as the beloved paladin of all who voted for him.
This illusory support then creates actual support by feeding a species of self-fulfilling prophecy: the two parties tell us that only they are popular enough and able to command enough support and votes to win and that a vote for a third party candidate is both futile and a de facto vote for the oligarch you hate even more; and so few vote for the tertium quid and he goes down in defeat, appearing as unpopular and his cause as hopeless as the Demopublican prophets foretold, making their future predictions about the futility of challenging them all the more believable.
As Stalin’s potential detractors or attackers feared finding themselves in physical exile in the Gulag, so many an American voter fears finding himself in the social exile of an unpopular or futile cause, far from the camps of the Big 2, who seem to enjoy the nearly unanimous support of just about everyone who votes. And so our oligarchs endlessly play the lesser-of-two evils game with us and get us to hold our noses and swallow the rancid bilge water they carry for the crony capitalists, sexual deviants, war mongers, and other wealthy riffraff that fund them.
To weaken the illusion and rock the thrones of our co-rulers a little I propose the following idea. Call it the “no confidence vote.” It can be enacted at any level of government (best to begin at the local and work your way up) with a law requiring the following:
1. All polling stations must offer all voters the following options:
a. cast a full vote for a candidate, etc., for an office
b. cast a vote of no confidence for a candidate for an office, or
c. cast a general vote of no confidence for that office.
2. Should the votes of no confidence reach or exceed 50% of the total cast for that office, no candidate may be elected to that office until another election (for all offices which failed to meet the 51% full votes minimum) is held in which the votes of no confidence fall below 50% of the total.
3. The interval between elections is set at the level of the law’s inaction and can vary, as can what happens to the office: the old occupants might continue or (my preferred choice) the office goes vacant and nothing new can be done but the bureaucracy continues its work as usual. (The latter option ensures that a tossed election won’t benefit the prior office holders but also won’t lead to a government shutdown, which the Big 2 could threaten us with to extort full votes for themselves.)
4. The announcements of returns must tell the following:
a. what number and percentage of candidate-specific votes each candidate got
b. what number and percentage of each candidate’s votes were votes of no confidence
c. what number and percentage of total votes were general no confidence votes
d. what number and percentage of total votes were some kind of no confidence vote
With a no confidence vote for a candidate a voter can in effect say to the Big 2, “I may have given you my vote, but only to prevent someone I despise even more than you from winning; if I’d had a better choice, I’d have voted against you.” Hence, a Catholic Democrat could show Obama that she hates his abortion policies and general decadence; a Republican could let McCain know that he loathes his warmongering, etc. The lesser-of-two-evils package-deal nature of the candidates remains, but the illusion of popular support it creates will be shattered. And should the general no confidence votes—which will likely bring to the polls many who, with Paleos and libertarians, previously had argued, “Don’t vote; it only encourages them”—help push the total of such votes to 50% or more, the lesser-of-two-evils game could be (at least for that election and seat) ended. For if the Big 2 are forced back to the drawing board, one of two salutary results will occur.
On the one hand, if they hope to win next time around, they’ll be forced to toss some of the more rank and sordid special interest garbage they tried to cram into the bottom of the package they offered us, lest they again offend too many normal supporters into voting no confidence. Should this happen even once, should the panderers see their chances of winning disappear and their despicable sugar daddies see their legal bribery go down the drain, both will be more hesitant to put as much of their time and money on the line seeking and doing lobbying as they had before.
The no confidence vote turns the lobbyists’ and politicians’ greatest advantage against them. They can afford to dedicate a large portion of their time and money to campaigning and lobbying in hopes of a big payoff, while the average voter must devote himself to making an honest living and (with nothing substantial to gain for himself no matter who wins) puts little time and money into politics; but that also means that the average voter has almost nothing to lose by helping to toss an election with his no confidence vote, while politicians and lobbyists stand to lose everything.
On the other hand, there is another outcome which might finally occur: a third-party party victory. If an election is thrown, if the returns coming in show moderate to high percentages of no confidence votes for the Big 2 but almost 100% full votes for the third-party candidate, the illusion of Demopublican popularity will be shattered and those who only voted for them out of fear of wasting their vote or joining an unpopular cause will likely reconsider their position. The disgruntled but timorous man will say, “Well, I guess I wasn’t the only one who hated his guts and all the crap he peddles for his Hollywood friends.” The previously wavering will be emboldened to give his next vote to the third-party man he’d liked but didn’t want to waste it on—for it’s no less a waste to vote for the Big 2 if the election is tossed. The very possibility of actually winning or showing their internal popularity will encourage at least a few more parties to make the attempt.
Those which do will find their power and influence magnified by the inherent logic of the no confidence vote. For as a third-party candidate’s best chance of winning is by having the election tossed, it will pay him to turn the big 2’s position of dominance against them: As the horses to bet on, the Big 2 rake in the most special interest cash, but that also means they have the most to hide.
Rather than spending his meager war chest on ads for himself, which likely won’t generate much support for him anyway, he will run ads pointing out as many unsavory connections and promises the Big 2 made as he can in order to turn their normal supporters’ votes from full to no confidence, thus possibly tossing the election and giving him a better shot at victory the second time around.
This will at least discourage Demopublican plastic men from disrespecting less mainstream candidates the way they did Ron Paul and Pat Buchanan. At most, it might further discourage the Big 2 from taking the tainted money in the first place.
And even if they win, the oligarchs’ confidence will at least be somewhat shaken by the number of no confidence votes among the total that elected them. Phony “mandates” will be shown for what they are. Nixon might have been less inclined to expand the welfare state had he seen just how many of his “landslide victory” votes owed themselves to McGovern’s unpopularity and the fact that Wallace had been gunned down.
While the idea of the no confidence vote will doubtlessly face the full onslaught of Demopublican party men and their media toadies, it’s rhetorically fairly easy to sell: what normal citizen, after all, would consider an election in which half the voters don’t want the current candidates to rule legitimate? Cost and inconvenience will be too great, its opponents will argue, but that seems rather weak when pitted against the idea that if the Big 2 simply provide candidates of which at least half the voters approve the first time around, there will be no additional time and expense needed. Also, given that the current scramble for special interest cash which the Big 2 now spend most of their time engaging in will at least be reduced by the no confidence vote, it’s highly likely it will actually reduce the cost of elections.
Well, that’s my idea, for what it’s worth. It’s certainly not a full solution to our political troubles, but it might make the situation at least slightly better and for the life of me I can’t see how it could make it worse.
Of course this might be rather moot if the whole thing had to be done via voting machines which wouldn’t record the votes accurately anyway, but that’s another issue for another day.
D. H. Corax is a northerner who echoes the sentiment of Lord Acton's letter to Robert E. Lee that he "saw in State Rights the only availing check upon the absolutism of the sovereign will, and secession filled [him] with hope, not as the destruction but as the redemption of Democracy,” and who, like Lee before the war, would like to see the union held together, but only if it be a voluntary union in which "federal," or national, tyranny is kept in check by the explicit and legally acknowledged threats of nullification and succession by truly sovereign states.