One thing has been made painfully clear this election cycle, America is in need of an overhaul of its political system. For the past century the United States has been stuck with two powerful political parties and now both the Democrats and Republicans are showing more holes than the plot of Spider-Man 3, except maybe with more believable acting performances. Both monolithic political parties have maintained a stranglehold on American ideology and the election process, and if the popularity of Bernie Sanders and even Donald Trump show anything it is that America is ready to split from a world dominated by only two options. It is time for a new vision of American politics. It is time for a third party to arise form the ashes. Now is the time of the nerd.
The Baneful Effects
In his farewell speech to the American public -before ascending to Asgard- George Washington warned the newborn country against political parties, believing that it could undermine the electoral process and incite Americans “with ill-founded jealousies.” Now, he did not mention Donald Trump by name, but we like to think that Washington saw exactly what was coming, because Donald Trump is the end result of the party system. The Republican Party has spent the last eight years turning Congress into a game of “Us versus Them.” The GOP stopped being about governing and became about opposing everything that President Obama and the Democratic party tried to do. Donald Trump is nothing more than the cave troll that they uncovered in their excavation of the American political landscape. He does not need to run on any coherent policy platform. The GOP has laid the groundwork that politics is no longer about governing, but winning, and if there is one thing “The Donald” is good at it, it is inciting his followers to believe that winning is all that matters.
That is what the modern political party system has become, a game of winners and losers, Yankees vs. Red Sox, Giants vs. Eagles, X-Wings vs. TIE Fighters, etc… and the Democratic Party shares as much blame in this as their rivals across the aisle. The Dems often like to play the victim card -portraying the Republicans as the intractable bullies and bogeymen- which only further radicalizes the political parties, and that is something they benefit from as much as their opponents. Too often the Democratic call to action is not so much “Vote for Our Candidate,” as it is “Vote against Their Candidate.” When people stop thinking about governing in terms of individual candidates and their individual policies or ideas, and start thinking about voting out of fear, then we have to admit the process is no longer working. Even worse, Democratic Presidential candidates know they can ignore states like New Jersey and New York, because they are perpetual blue states. That means unless you live in Iowa, Florida, or the mansion of Lex Luthor your individual concerns are never going to be fully addressed by any national level candidate, and the effects are even worse when it comes to Senators and Representatives. With our two-party system, staunchly Democrat or Republican districts have little say in their elected officials. In areas where party loyalties are unbreakable then elections are a foregone conclusion, and you basically have the political party deciding who will get to be the next Congressman and not the voters.
According to a recent Gallup Poll, 60% of the American people say that they are ready for a major third party, but where would this new party fall on the political spectrum, the right side, the left side, the dark side? No, it is pretty clear that any major third party needs to be both centrist and youth based. We need a party that can approach the political table not with dogmatic party standards, but a real desire to affect change that can be embraced by the Millennial Generation and beyond. That is why we here at The NYRD are suggesting the formation of the Nerd Party. Think about it, what does being a nerd truly mean? It means we are outsiders, just like the kind of people that America is clamoring to vote for. It also means that we are stereotypically intelligent, which is more than you can say for a lot of the candidates still in the race. Lastly, it means that nerds are in touch with pop culture and the next generation of voters. Also we can quote Star Wars and Family Guy, and that always make filibusters more entertaining. At the very least, the introduction of the Nerd Party could help break down the established party lines, and get our elected officials back to becoming governors instead of perpetual campaigners, because like Magic: The Gathering, it is always more interesting when you have three or more sides playing rather than just 1 vs 1.
The Good the Bad and the Nerd
The Nerd Party will encourage its candidates to think about every decision as part of the larger picture, not based upon the political interests of the party, or left versus right. As centrists we extremely believe that extreme beliefs are usually extremely wrong. Eating ice cream for every meal can be just as hazardous to your health as nuclear war -and is just as extreme as that last example. Very few people are completely conservative or completely liberal. In fact in 2015 the number of independents in America reached an all time high, with 43% of Americans claiming to be neither Democrat nor Republican. So the Nerd Party understands that it is unreasonable to make the voting public choose between entirely liberal or entirely conservative candidates, despite the fact of how our system currently works, or doesn’t work.
Political parties -and certain cable news networks- have convinced the public that they only ever have two choices, and that misrepresentation benefits no one but the political parties themselves. Individual candidates -like their voters- are often an amalgamation of beliefs and ideas, like some kind of publicly elected Voltron. Privately candidates may support some aspects of their party’s official platforms and not others, but in our modern world of Red vs. Blue, there is no room for gray… or purple. Instead, moderate conservatives, centrist liberals, New York Republicans, conservative libertarians, Dwarven socialists, and Vulcan Marxists all get pushed to the fringes of one side or another, lumped together with one ideological platform or its opposite. That means reasonable elected officials are forced to promote the extremes of the political spectrum in order to keep favor with their party. Toeing that party line often requires many moderate candidates to compromise or discard any difference they may have, and any refreshing or well-meaning ideas often get lost in the constant pitched battle of the political arena.
Believe it or not, both political parties actually have good ideas and bad ideas. The beauty of the United States is supposed to be our ability find the compromise between them. In the past, the moods of the electorate have swung back and forth like an oiled pendulum from Republican to Democrat to Republican to Democrat: Carter to Reagan, Bush to Clinton, Bush to Obama, but now extreme forces in both parties have pushed that pendulum to its breaking point. “Reasonable compromise” has become akin to consorting with the enemy and it could cost a Congressman the ire of his or her party which in turn could cost them their position. That is what the Nerd Party aims to fix, because -as our grandparents always told us- we’re good with fixing that “technology stuff.” So, did you try turning the electorate off and then back on again?
The Millennial Factor
Bernie Sanders is a hit with “the kids.” According to recent polling, Sanders has a 16% lead among voters aged 35 and younger, especially young women voters. There is a reason his message resonates with the younger electorate. Sanders tends to talk about the issues that Millennials are most concerned with. According to USA Today voters under the age of 35 are 80% in favor of renewable energy, 82% in favor of background checks for gun ownership, even among young Republicans. They are also increasingly in favor of marriage equality, gender equality, and much more. However, the halls of power and the political parties are still very much controlled by older generations who only seem to care about political infighting. That means for Millennials and other young Americans there is a disconnect between what they want to see happening and what is actually happening. That can be frustrating, especially as Senators and Representatives cling to their elected positions for thirty or forty year -thanks modern medical science- never once forced to change their opinion on anything, and often with no viable political rival to replace them.
The irony here -for both political parties- is that younger voters identify with both conservative and liberal ideas. Even though the next generation tends to tilt toward Democrats rather than the GOP by 41% to 28%, Millennial voters are more likely to identify with the conservative party on policies of economics, international relations, and BBQ recipes. Again and unfortunately, the Dem/GOP system is binary, and that hurts candidates more than it helps. Even if a Republican candidate had a smart and effective plan to cut spending and lower the college debt they will still lose youth voters because they are forced to follow their party’s script on banning marriage equality or background checks for firearms. For younger voters who tend to vote with their social ideals they may never find a candidate they agree with on all fronts, and very often that leads to a system of “voting against the opposition.”
Bernie Sanders may not win the nomination, and if that happens you will have a lot of people -especially Millennials- who will be forced to support Hillary Clinton -a candidate they do not want- in order to defeat the greater of two evils. The truth is that a candidate like Bernie probably would have fared better in an electoral system where there were three or even more established political parties to choose from. Unfortunately, for the Independent Senator from Vermont -and his legion of Twitter followers- to be considered a viable candidate for the US Presidency under our current system you need to run as part of one of the two major political parties. That means going through political primaries, which is basically the Hunger Games of politics.
The nomination process is especially hard on candidates. Winning the vote of the American people is hard enough, but convincing a political party that you stand for everything they want you to stand for often forces even moderate candidates to move to one side of the spectrum or the other. Regardless of what a candidate looks like at the beginning of the process the end result is often someone who has been forced into being a poster child for the acceptably branded message of either the Republican or the Democratic party. Remember when John McCain was the maverick of Congress. The top gun Tom Cruise who never feared crossing the aisle to find a compromise to solve a problem? Then he ran for president, and by the time he was done with the primaries there was nothing left but an angry old white conservative man whose only companion was a squawking Alaskan Dodo bird.
That is why the Nerd Party is going to do it differently. We say forget primaries, instead we are going to conduct candidate vetting the same way every other American applies for a job. Our candidates will be expected to submit a letter of interest and a resume, before being asked in for a job interview, because you need four years experience to manage a McDonald’s, and it is not unreasonable to ask the same thing of the people applying to run our country. Moreover, we will not pick our candidates based upon their blind adherence to doctrine or dogma, in fact we encourage our candidates to be free thinkers and find creative solutions to problems. That is why we will also design a series of tests that the potential candidate must pass, including a written exam which will quiz our potential candidates on general knowledge, leadership potential, moral and ethical standards, pop culture, and possible psychic potential. If the candidates score well on the written exam and during the interview process then they will move on to the physical challenge, where they will be tested for strength, mental acuity, leadership abilities, endurance, speed, comedic performance, hand eye-coordination, and martial arts abilities, because you never know when the President may have to retake a hijacked airplane. Once candidates have passed the internal party tests they will be placed into the race with the full support and backing of the party. From that point on their only mandate is do what is best for the country as a whole, and specifically not for the party.
Ain’t No Party Like a Nerd Party
The current political parties are broken. It is time to start thinking toward new political horizons, and the rise of a third party, and that is not actually as far fetched as you might think. Mainstream media and the political parties themselves like to portray the Republican and Democratic parties as permanent fixtures of our political landscape, but historically that has never been true. As much as the Democratic or Grand Old Party would like to have you believe, they are not our country’s first or even second political parties. The first Democrat in the White House was Andrew Jackson, and the first Republican was Abraham Lincoln. Before that there were Federalists, and Whigs, and even the Democratic-Republican Party. You may not believe that the Nerd Party or any new third party could ever rise to prominence in the United States, but thanks to the Internet and the democratization of information that is more possible now than ever in the history of our nation.
The popularity of Bernie Sanders and even Donald Trump show cracks in our old political system. Voters of all ages are pushing back at the political parties whom they feel no longer represent their views. This election has -in a sense- become a battle between the old process and the desire of the next generation to have their voices heard. Sanders persists on Facebook and Twitter even as CNN and Fox News claim he is finished. Donald Trump was able to build a support base, despite being the butt of every late night talk show joke for six months. The time for change is now and the power to do so resides in the very thing you are using to read this absurd piece of rambling information. Now is the time to believe in change. Now is the time to vote Nerd.