Sunday, February 12, 2012

On The Need For Another Political Party Or Two

This morning Christians across the United States gathered to worship.  The following passage's principle from Ephesians 4:1-6 is inherent in each gathering:
As a prisoner for the Lord, then, I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called to one hope when you were called; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all.    
Despite the implied unity, Protestants, Roman Catholics, and Orthodox faiths all met in different buildings.  Among the Protestants, Lutherans and Baptists congregates separately;  Among the Baptists, North American Baptists, American Baptists, Southern Baptists, General Baptists, Independent Baptists couldn't agree about enough articles of faith to worship together.

If Christians can agree that a First Century Jewish man was born to a virgin, crucified as a criminal, and rose from the dead to save humanity from the deadly wages of sin but can't agree on the proper form of worship, it seems odd that American politics limits itself to two parties.  Writing in today's New York Times, Thomas Friedman contends,
I’ve argued that maybe we need a third party to break open our political system. But that’s a long shot. What we definitely and urgently need is a second party
Friedman concludes,
Until the G.O.P. stops being radical and returns to being conservative, it won’t provide what the country needs most now — competition — competition with Democrats on the issues that will determine whether we thrive in the 21st century. We need to hear conservative fiscal policies, energy policies, immigration policies and public-private partnership concepts — not radical ones. Would somebody please restore our second party? The country is starved for a grown-up debate.
Friedman's analysis made me think about South Dakota's political situation: the state certainly needs a second political party. At the South Dakota War College, an unofficial Republican organ, "Bill Clay" giggles, "can I call the Democrats a major party in SD?"  Outside of having some entertaining internecine battles, South Dakota Republicans seem like the Democrats Friedman describes:
the best of the Democrats — who have been willing to compromise — have no partners and the worst have a free pass for their own magical thinking.
I don't see many South Dakota Republicans willing to compromise, and many seem to have some "magical" views about their proposals:
Rep. Steve Hickey, R-Hartford, made himself the target of boos when he said education in South Dakota is not a partisan issue, but if it does divide along party lines, “Democrats focus on teachers and salaries. Republicans focus on students and achievement.”
In many places, politics is a religion; it would be good for South Dakota and country to have a few more denominations.

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