Deacon Ian Punnett –
“Teenage boys play at love to get sex; teenage girls play at sex to get love.” While that old aphorism may be less true today than it was when I was kid, that explanation of how the Western world works has stuck with me because it explains so much. As a teenager myself, it helped me negotiate awkward times when some girl was sending mixed messages and helped me be mindful of the times when I was doing the same.
But that dichotomy applies to more than just human relationships. I have believed for years that “Republicans play at fiscal responsibility to control society; Democrats play at social justice in order to get their hands on the money.” Neither comment is fair or true all the time, but it does help to explain why a guy like Donald Trump, that claims to be about good business, spends so much time trying to sell the country on the Great Wall of Trump.
Recently, Gail, a reader, asked me if I had a prediction for the future of American politics. “Will we have more than two viable parties since the left and right really seem so far apart on issues? I think that’s one reason why many like Trump. To those people he appears to be in the middle.”
I’ve been giving this question some thought ever since. First, it must be said that the United States has had third-party candidates. While Bernie Sanders is running as a Democrat for president, for example, he is best known as an Independent who has beaten Democrats and Republicans in three-way races for years. Third-party presidential candidates such as Ralph Nader, Ross Perot and George Wallace have not won national office, but their “outsider” popularity impacted the outcome of almost every race they were in.
Similarly, according to news polls, at least part of Trump’s popularity is linked to his “outsider” status. To your point, Gail, politics these days do seem especially polarized, but does Trump represent the middle?
If I were to design a viable third party, one that did more than appear to be in the middle, the party platform would be the elimination of national unemployment by the passing of the largest public works bill in history to fix the estimated 66,000 bridges that are falling apart across the country. Starting at sixteen years old, every man and woman could find at least part-time work rebuilding this country from the ground up, or being part of the support staff needed to make that happen. The best thing about that would be that we would be paying ourselves. The tax money we spent would go back into every community in the form of decent wages and/or be used to pay down massive student loan debt. The next best thing is that we would be doing it together, getting to know each other, regardless of religion, ethnicity or sex. American commerce depends on a transportation infrastructure, and this reinvestment into our future economy has been put off too long. We would be too busy to hate.
My party platform would also include a two-year moratorium on the signing of any bill that attempted to restrict personal freedom except in criminal cases. Having freedom should always mean having choices. No woman should be forced to remove a hijab—or forced to wear one. If you have the freedom to choose only one thing, you’re not really free. So, to me, being pro-freedom means being pro-choice on guns, marriage rights, reproductive rights, etc. While I personally choose a conservative, traditional, faithful, monogamous lifestyle, nobody else should be forced, by law, to have the courage of my boring convictions. The flag is red, white and blue, not red, blue and vanilla. My party leadership would be based on the simple idea that the job of every government is to provide the greatest amount of freedom to the greatest number of people for the longest period of time.
I would call this third party “The Birthday Party,” because if it ever happened, every day would feel like my birthday. But going back to your initial inquiry, Gail, my prediction for the future of American politics is that compared to a guy who is running on the promise that Mexico is going to pay for a 40-foot-high, 2,100-mile-long wall along our southern border on demand, notions of self-sustaining national infrastructure and personal freedom would just sound kooky.