The Indomitable Two-Party System

[This is our first stab at presenting the conversations that Michael and I have over instant messenger.]

Michael: I'm glad you used the term "cognitive dissonance" there as well.

Michael: I think ultimately, that is what we are dealing with.

Michael: Heck, Dan Ariely thinks we are dealing with it at all times. And I think he's right.

Michael: Here's something for you then...

Michael: Why does the media fall into this as well? Why talk only about two candidates? Isn't it a bit of a self-fulfilling prophecy to report on politics the way they do?

Michael: And more to the point. I agree that it is cognitive dissonance, but what's the point? What's in it for us to vote for one of the two established parties? Just the feeling that we are making an impact?

Will: Why doesn't soccer use three teams instead of two?

Will: In terms of feeling like they're making an impact, I think so. Take Michelle Malkin for example. She is, primarily, a voter who wants to prevent another 9-11 at all costs. Voters like her want to believe that, when another terrorist strike occurs, they did everything they could to prevent it.

Will: (Even if the growth of government surveillance is a byproduct of technology and even if the war has created more animosity.)

Will: So, an anti-abortion voter will want to believe that he's done everything in his power to end abortion. Ultimately, that means voting for a candidate.

Will: Of course, if he wants to make an immediate impact, he can kill someone. But that precludes future action and, well, one death is a tragedy-a million, a statistic

Michael: I never heard it put like that.

Will: As for media, competition sells but adding a third team would be cost prohibitive.

Michael: Maybe you could address this concern. I worry that our current political structure might possibly not be the way it was intended to run.

Michael: Let me put it another way.

Michael: It's hard to keep up the discourse when there are variables related to what I'm trying to discuss that I never knew mattered. For example, you said adding a third team would be cost prohibitive. Does that honestly end the argument? Does that mean it is in our best interest to concentrate on two powers only? Also, do you think I am right in believing that the differences between the two parties are a bit inconsequential (American hegemony and what we call "capitalism")?

Will: In general, media is simple to figure out. Decisions are based upon profit potential. The media has become consolidated in order to increase this profit and power. There's no real competition except on the margin.

Will: Notice how similar that is to the federal government. In truth, the United States is too disparate to have these consolidated powers serve its best interest. Its held together by the notion that all men are created equal and not the racial notion that all Spaniards or all Frenchmen are created equal. So, this diverse array of identities is not being well-governed. The more identity representation at a national level, the better.

Michael: Logically then, if we over time become diverse enough, we may as well have one party.

Michael: Or, at least, that could be a distinct possibility.

Michael: In fact, maybe that's what's already happened and once again, we're simply arguing on the margins.

Michael: Ergo, Democrats and Republicans really are the same.

Michael: Ergo, our arguments really are arguments on the margins.

Michael: Which maybe is why those issues never change.

Michael: I.e., abortion.

Michael: So, wouldn't having two parties the way we do in America be a way just to protect the little known fact that we only have one party?

Michael: Also, does that mean then that "third parties" are viewed in some way (either consciously or unconsciously) as subversive? And possibly dangerous?

Will: I maintain that two-party competition gives people a purpose.

Will: You know the answer to the latter.

Michael: I see.

Michael: Will, this begs the question.

Michael: Do you think this is conspiratorial? Or a machination as I've suggested in the past?

Michael: That is to say, do congressmen, pundits, know this?

Michael: Do they think in the terms that you and I do?

Michael: If not, then this is a machination.

Michael: If they do, then they do these things are based on what one can assume is power grab.

Will: Let's posit two wills: the will to survive and the will to power. Generally, these wills are intertwined. A politician believes that if he says the right things to the right number of people, he will be given power and his survival will be ensured.

Michael: Is it benevolent?

Will: Should he be rated by the charity of his intentions or the utility of his actions?

Michael: In my case, intentions. Like, "what do they think" of themselves.

Will: Well, George Bush has been extremely well-intentioned

Michael: So, they don't think of this in the terms that you and I do?

Michael: I'm just trying to ask you if they are self-aware.

Michael: Or, are we wrong?

Michael: And by "self-aware", I mean like George Bush says to himself, "There really is no difference between me and Ted Kennedy. And abortion issues et. al. are just personal crusades that won't ever change."

Will: I can imagine him saying something like "Come'n Teddyboy, you know it's fur the good of the country." Also, Bush's administration did nothing to end abortion.

Michael: Well then, all that said, I'm not sure I could see that they are self-aware.

Michael: And if they are, they hide it extremely well in order to maintain the appearances of partisanship so their constituents can vote for something. Or, at least think they are voting for something.

Will: A good defense is the key to victory

Michael: Maybe.

Michael: I just think how impossible it could be for anyone to realize where we are in terms of our political system.

Michael: And because of that, how much more impossible it would be to change things.

Michael: And it's not control-a puppet master somewhere behind the scenes-it's hegemony. It's collective cognitive dissonance for the whole nation for fear of losing anything that we have.

Michael: In reality, it actually has a hint of mob rule, does it not?

Will: Sure. I think the Springfield riots are good satire.

Michael: Any one in particular?

Will: Like the riot in the hockey stadium when everyone felt ripped-off because the game ended in a tie.

Michael: Oh God, I had forgotten about that.


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