Friday, August 10, 2007


"Trying not to think" about the tsunami called the next presidential election and its onset, I've been struck by the apparent shrinking support the two-party system has. There seem to be more and more people unwilling to be associated with one or the other. Oh, they may vote that way, but that is because in the end there are seldom more than two choices.

We know one of the reasons for this: the Dark Side of each party. The Dems traditionally promised to fight for the little guy, the underprivileged. But they seem to have morphed into a party dependent upon top-down solutions, government-only programs. The Elephant Party on the other hand has traditionally favored small-government, laissez-faire economics, and a citizen-oriented social agenda, but have a sitting president who has looked more like a Democrat in his spending record.

Imitation, not competition, has dominated the two parties' practices, if not agendas. And the more they imitate each other, the less compelling the two parties have become. It just goes to show it is impossible to rule according to the latest poll. Add to this that strange phenomena--Postmodernism--and you have a challenging, almost unworkable political situation.

Much has been made of Postmodernism's absolute denial of absolute truth: all claims to it are reduced to metanarratives--manmade philosophies to which only individual opinion can appeal; science unable to prove an absolute, therefore there can be none, etc. However, there is a distinction to be made between postmodernism and postmodern. One is described just above: it is the pernicious leaven in the dough. Postmodern refers to the culture in which Postmodernism is having its way. One is a philosophy; the other is a way of life characterized by choice, a kind of freedom, a rediscovery of old things and a melding of old and new. We love strange bedfellows.

We do live in an era when the breakdown in linear, modernist thinking has given way to a somewhat winsome cultural and political national life. One of the vestigial hallmarks of the Old Way of modernism was loyalty to institutions and political parties. This is less and less the case, and one wonders if we'll ever recover the stability of a two party system again.

Some say our Postmodern society is winsome, because this is the internal experience of the postmodern age. We delight in choosing. in individualizing, in finetuning to our specific tastes everything in our lives. It starts with our cell phones but doesn't end there. It has grown to include our political candidates. We want to be able to choose the degree to which our candidate is green. or isolationist, or interventionist. Pro-life but pro civil-unions? Good! But adjust the dial a bit upward on immigration. If you think your candidates aren't paying attention to this, then you aren't watching the debates. We don't have candidates any more, we have marionettes. Well, perhaps I embellish.

This brings us to the electorates' fickle quality. Winsome we may be in our internal lives, but externally we are fickle. This may in part be simply a collective, short attention span. It may be because we spend too much money. It seems that fickleness is the external charactieristc of a postmodern society. It is the opposite of loyalty. To try to rule such a people is to try to "catch a wave upon the sand", as the nuns sang in The Sound of Music.

Enter the emerging third party. We've tried calling it Independent, but it just doesn't suffice. Green isn't quite the thing. Neither is Crunchy, Libertarian, or Social Democrat. But there IS a name that describes the ultimate non-party, a school of fish darting in every which direction. I give you

The Postmodern Party

TRY winning an election by ignoring this bloc! TRY figuring out what this bloc WANTS! Appealing to The Postmodern Party is a political game of Twister. And that is why no one knows where anyone really stands on the "issues". The guys and gal who are running for President are playing the Breaking the Fourth Wall game with the audience: speaking directly to them and asking: "WHAT DO YOU WAANNNT???".

Short answer: We want it all.

How do you solve a problem like Maria?
How do you catch a cloud and pin it down?
How do you solve a problem like Maria...?
A flibertygibbet, a will-o'-the-wisp,...a clown....

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