No party is the right party

Joe Zappa, Editor-In-Chief

Very soon, the time will come for MHS seniors to register to vote. At the same time, students will have to select a political allegiance. The majority of seven hundred kids with unique sets of beliefs will be funneled into two political parties. Many may have already decided to register as a Republican or Democrat. However, those already committed may want to think again.

Most people who register for political parties actually do disagree with their party on some topics. They start out saying they lean one way or the other, but will retain their own perspective, and make an effort to stay educated about the candidates for each election. Some party members do this their entire lives, but many party members do not. It is common to hear one admit that he votes “down the line,” especially for local elections for which it is more difficult to get acquainted with all the candidates. It is also common that people who claim to differ on several opinions from those of their party have voted for their party the vast majority of the time, or are so accustomed to selecting the Row A or Row B candidates that they no longer check the names in front of them. Perhaps unwittingly, these party-line voters have perpetuated the trend stifling this nation’s political productivity: a lack of ideological diversity among the members of each major party.

Americans must fight this trend. Ideological monotony in both parties is the disease which has stifled political productivity in Washington. It is the reason that many bills go through Congress without a single Republican or Democratic vote. Voters need to send the message to elected officials that it is okay to stray from the party line on a couple of the issues—that the extremist sects of each party cannot hold the government hostage any longer. In order to do this, voters need to start supporting people with ideas and stop supporting the parties they represent.

Americans need to follow the example of the late British intellectual Christopher Hitchens. Hitchens epitomized the willingness to reject the party one traditionally supports, even if one agrees with much of its platform.

Hitchens was an atheist and a Marxist. He wrote a book titled God is not Great: How religion poisons everything. Axiomatically, he would support the Democratic candidate for president one hundred percent of the time. Try finding an atheistic Marxist who supported Bush over Kerry, or McCain over Obama. Presumably, one could search for a lifetime.

However, that is exactly what Hitchens did. He seemingly disobeyed all that is accepted about American political culture when he briefly supported George W. Bush, the Bible-thumping, big-business supporting, old school Republican over John Kerry, the liberal intellectual.

Ultimately, Hitchens declared himself neutral, but the fact that he could even briefly declare public support for a conservative Republican like Bush—or even not support the liberal intellectual in Kerry—is a shining example of how politics should run in the United States. Hitchens supported the president’s interventionist foreign policy, and that was enough to make him consider giving him his vote. He didn’t have to be a life-long conservative to give Bush a chance.

The American voting process has been over-simplified. People say “I could never vote for a Democrat because I’m too fiscally conservative,” or “I could never vote for a Republican because I’m pro-choice.” Voters should aspire to think more like Christopher Hitchens—as much as they may disagree with a candidate on several issues,; they should view him as a whole and refrain from ruling him out due to his political party.

Some MHS students agree with this initiative. “I think a lot of people just vote for their party’s candidate without actually listening to what they have to say,” senior Michelle Morgan said. “If people were to register as independent, I think they would make a more informed decision on who they were to vote for.”

However, there are many others who do plan to register for a party this year. “Although on some issues I don’t see a distinct line between Republicans and Democrats, I would register as a Democrat because my own opinions coincide with most of the liberal, democratic ideals that are fundamental to the Democratic Party,” senior Rachel Flanders said.

One can only hope that those MHS students who do register for a political party will remain vigilant voters. Though they generally support the candidates of one party, responsible political party members inform themselves about the candidates at hand for each election and can thus make educated decisions regardless of party affiliation. If MHS students register Democrat or Republican, they must hold themselves to these standards.

Optimally, though, MHS students will fight the political party power structure. They will not support a political party. They will not be proud to be a Democrat or Republican, but will stray from the beaten path, will condemn the unwillingness of politicians and others to do so, and will defy the expectation that one belief one holds must categorize the whole of his intellectual being. Americans must be proud to be atheistic fiscal conservatives or liberals who support foreign interventionism, because unique thinkers will effect much more change in our society than those who walk the line of political party partisanship.

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