A newly released Washington Post-ABC poll found that 68% of eligible voters said they would “definitely vote for” or “consider voting for” a third-party candidate. Similarly, 48% of eligible voters said they considered it necessary to create a third-party. These numbers say a lot about our current political culture; they suggest that the American public is dissatisfied with the status quo and, more specifically, with the two-party system.
That only 17% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing, according to an April Gallup poll, says even more about our political culture. It’s worth noting that Congress’s approval rating has actually increased in recent months. In February it stood at a dismal 10%.
Voters Unhappy With The Current Political Climate
It’s abundantly clear that the American public is dissatisfied with the two-party system as it is currently practiced. The reason for this is because it has led to chronic dysfunction at all levels of government and paralyzed our political system. It has left us incapable of solving pressing, challenging problems. Thomas Mann and Norman Ornstein, two prominent analysts of the Senate argue that the currently “divided government has produced something closer to complete gridlock than we have ever seen in our time in Washington.” They’ve been studying the system for the last 40 years.
The partisan rancor in Washington has gotten so bad that even Washington veterans have been forced to concede that it’s no longer possible for Congress to find solutions that benefit the American public. The atmosphere has gotten too toxic for even the Washington system’s most jaded veterans.
Moderates From Both Parties Leaving Congress
In February of this year, for instance, GOP Senate veteran, Sen. Olympia Snowe announced that she would not seek reelection to the Senate. In her announcement, Sen. Snowe was unsparing in her criticism of Washington’s political culture, saying: “people are deeply frustrated. Yes, they’re facing personal financial pains and hardship, but more about the fact that we are not getting things done here in Congress, so that they can look to their political leaders and institutions to solve the problems that they’re facing in their daily lives at this unprecedented moment in American history.” Snowe, who was a conciliator by temperament, was driven out of the Congress because of partisan paralysis.
Richard Lugar, a moderate six-term Republican Senator from Indiana, was defeated by a Tea Party insurgent during his recent primary bid. His challenger, Richard Mourdock, argued that the problem in Washington is that there is “too much bipartisanship.” He added that “bipartisanship ought to consist of Democrats coming to the Republican point of view.”
Moderate Democrats, too, are being either shunned out of their caucus or are volunteering to leave it. Seven of the 25 Blue Dog Democrats who won seats in Congress in the 2010 election are not seeking reelection, and 3 of the 4 leaders of the moderate Democratic Blue Dog Coalition have announced they will be retiring rather than running for reelection in 2012.
Snowe’s departure, Lugar’s defeat at the hands of conservative ideologue, and the extinction of the moderate Democrats in the House all signal something: Congress is going to become more ideologically divided in the coming years. And that means it will be less capable of solving America’s problems.
Its Time For Something New
We need to try something new: something that the Constitution’s designers would have agreed with. We need to elect independent and third-party candidates to the U.S. Congress. Colorado voters need to vote for a candidate whose thinking transcends the narrow boundaries imposed by the two political parties. They need to elect someone who has open, tolerant social views, someone who wants to put America’s fiscal house in order and someone who isn’t interested in more foreign entanglements. Coloradans need to vote for a candidate who is willing to make compromises to get things done and who isn’t afraid of the word “bipartisanship.”
Coloradans need to vote for Kathy Polhemus. Kathy is a moderate who intends to change the way things are done in Washington. The daughter of an Army veteran and a graduate of the University of Colorado, Kathy has lived in and around Colorado's 6th district with her husband, Carl, and their family for over 20 years. Kathy founded a nonprofit that helped women successfully transition from being on welfare to being productive and independent workers. This organization eventually became Dress for Success Denver. While she was busy managing Dress for Success, Kathy was also working for the Cherry Creek School District and the Jefferson County School District, in positions ranging from being a substitute teacher to being the Founding Partner of the Cherry Creek Schools Foundation. Throughout her career, Kathy has always worked to achieve results, rather than fulfill a partisan agenda. When Kathy joins the U.S. Congress, you can be sure she will go there and do what she has always done: achieve results.