President Barack Obama's announcement Tuesday that he would agree to extend the Bush tax cuts for all Americans – including those filers reporting over $250,000 in annual income – is the latest depressing reminder that nationally, change has come not through a unified effort of leaders to develop a comprehensive path toward accomplishing our nation's goals, but through a scrambled and directionless patchwork of red and blue victories.
In each election, every American receives a single vote through which to express their ideas on governing the nation by choosing a representative whom they feel will speak and act on their behalf in Washington, D.C. Because thousands, and in some case millions, of votes are needed to win an election, national candidates are typically unable to mobilize the massive campaigns necessary to reach voters unless they are independently wealthy or they receive the backing of a major political party.
Most Americans, of course, do not align themselves wholly with either set of ideals. The range of social, economic and policy issues that face the United States today are vast and complex, and many thoughtful individuals are able to express reasoned, coherent opinions on a palette of topics that permit them to transcend the sweeping categorizations of Democrat or Republican, liberal or conservative, pro- or anti-government.
Come Election Day, though, most people find themselves with a difficult choice: cast a symbolic but practically useless vote for a candidate who doesn't have the visibility or momentum to win an election, or vote along party lines on the precept that it's best to sacrifice a few ideals for the sake of ensuring that the most important ideas retain a voice at all.
In short, Americans make a compromise in order to make the most effective use of an imperfect political system. We'd like for the people we elect to do the same.
The two-party system, psychologically and systemically entrenched into the fabric of our country, is flawed. With the understanding that drastic changes giving minority parties a meaningful voice in Washington are not possible in any sort of short-term timeframe, we call upon legislators to consider the diverse and often divergent opinions of their constituents and vote as an agent of the people, not the party.