Alabama Senate race strikes another blow against blind party loyalty
While Alabamians cast votes today in what is possibly the most bizarre Senate election campaign in recent history, the undeniable losers in the harsh political battles over recent months are both political parties.
The damage to the Republican Party due to the Alabama Senate candidacy of Roy Moore, an alleged pedophile, is undeniable. Over several weeks, the nation has heard countless, revolting party-over-country sentiments by Alabama Republicans who are eager to forgive Moore’s past behavior and bigoted views solely because they cannot stomach a Democrat, Doug Jones, representing their state.
Amid the flurry of sexual assault allegations against public figures and politicians, Democrats don’t have clean hands either. Their push to quickly dump accused Sen. Al Franken, before an Ethics Committee investigation was undertaken, suggests a transparent, partisan tactic to create an image of party purity on the issue of sexual harassment as the Alabama special election approached.
In a broader sense, the Inside The Beltway crowd seems to have reached a record level of denial as an increasingly agitated, cynical electorate dismisses Washington Republicans and Democrats as unreliable and unlikeable.
In 2017, the weakening of the two parties may have set a path that continues for decades to come. Tribalism is not true to a well-functioning democracy.
According to a recent Gallup poll, Congress’ approval rating was just 16 percent. More surprising, despite the Republicans’ control in both the House and Senate, over the summer GOP voters’ support for Congress dipped dramatically, from 28 percent to 16 percent.
The long-term outlook is especially grim for the longstanding two-party duopoly. Since 2014, half of Millennials consistently have told pollsters that they have no affinity with either party. But in recent days an NBC News/GenForward poll found that 71% of Millennials think the two parties are not doing an adequate job and a third party is needed. This upcoming generation is especially turned off by the GOP.
Meanwhile, according to the Independent Voters Network (IVN), since 2014, the number of independent and third party state legislators nationwide has risen 40%, despite institutional barriers put in place by the two major parties to fend off outside competition.
Next year could be an opportunity for a monumental shift in the political landscape, as IVN anticipates a record number of independent and third party candidates running at the state level in 2018.
Damaging divisions among Democrats continue to be sparked by left-wing supporters of Sen. Bernie Sanders who, at all costs, want to purge the party of political insiders and so-called “corporatist” Dems.
The obvious split in the GOP centers on the highly unpopular President Donald Trump and his equally unpopular agenda – repealing Obamacare, cutting taxes for corporations and the wealthy — while the White House also fuels cultural wars and backs right-wingers such as Moore in Alabama.
The intolerant, fringe elements play key roles in both parties. But, for independents, moderates and centrists – and the Millennials, the largest generation in American history – the cringe-worthy mentality of voting for a possible pedophile because he’s “our” pedophile won’t last long.