As has been done hundreds of times before, we enter yet another election cycle to determine our civic leaders and reaffirm our principles as a Republic. This system is supposedly based on competition where one candidate squares off against another in a battle of ideas and the public is left to decide who will do the best job.
But what if there are no competitors?
That’s what I see right here in Okaloosa County. At least 13 local elections will be unopposed this year, including a state representative, the Clerk of Court, the Property Appraiser, and the Supervisor of elections.
Worse still, the Republican Party is the only one presenting candidates for Sheriff, Tax collector, Superintendent of Schools, and the County Commission seats. Although everyone can vote in a party primary if there are no other party candidates, the August primary races are, in effect, elections determined only by the Republican Party.
Of course, there are those who will say this serves the will of the people. The fact that the Republicans are so dominant means their ideas won out in the open marketplace. Our paradigm now is one party can serve all.
That is nonsense. Groupthink like that can only bring bad things for the Republic, and it only serves to stamp out the political competition that our county and our country need so desperately. As a former military man, I think of the quote by George Patton “When everyone is thinking the same thing, then nobody is thinking.”
Dominance by either the Republican or Democrat Party is the result of a series of barriers to political competition constructed by them over the last 150 years, each of which are not insurmountable but when taken together become formidable. Getting on the ballot can only be achieved now by great personal wealth or by organized political help, and laws place so many encumbrances on that organized political help that only the big two parties can routinely sustain them. This was a big reason why the local Tea Parties are organized as they are. Barriers also include laws that limit how much individuals can contribute to political action, and intricate Federal laws, such as the “Bipartisan” (not “Multipartisan”) McCain Feingold Act, that financially limits, and can thereby crush, a new political party for simply saying “Vote for Us!” Most importantly, the winner-take-all election laws, which dominate this country since the Civil War, automatically favor a two-party system. Taken together, these laws keep power in the hands of the established parties and discourage others.This is nothing new, and something most people intuitively know.
But it goes even farther. There are Justices of the Supreme Court who have openly said that part of their decision process is to maintain the two-party system in America, which is clearly not a part of our Constitution. Many individuals vote big party simply as a matter of tradition, perpetuating their dominance.
For all their strengths, The Tea Party, Occupy Wall Street, and the alphabet soup of other organizations, are not political competition. They are spectators in the crowd, or diners in a political restaurant whose menu is already chosen by the big parties. The only real competition comes from those willing to withstand all the official abuse, and put candidates on the ballot.
You pay a real price, daily, for these artificial limits on competition. Who speaks for those who want gambling in the City of Destin? Who speaks for those who want to prosecute the massive bank mortgage fraud that cost this County hundreds of thousands of dollars in taxes, and possibly hurt thousands of investors? Who will ever pit law enforcement against the blatantly illegal actions of the TSA in our very county? Who stands against the property tax which makes you a perpetual renter from the government? Who will end the government monopoly in education? Who is truly against Federal regulation of states? And who will be held accountable for County TDC employees run amok or for the financial disaster that is the Mid Bay Bridge? These are just to start.
Let’s face it; we are just going to get more of the same.
That’s what you get in a one-party system.
Pete Blome is a retired military officer and Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Okaloosa County. www.Libertarianpoc.org
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