The U.S. Needs A Fifth Party

It’s fair to say that the majority of people aren’t thrilled with the current political landscape. You, dear reader, have probably vented some frustrations in the break room, in a Facebook post, or around the dinner table.

This is nothing new.  Even before Hillary Clinton & Donald Trump clinched their respective nominations people had a bad taste in their mouths from politics.

Political polarization has been on the rise for years. (Pew Research Center, 2014) Each party has pushed the other to their respective extremes, preventing cooperation. We see this everyday on the news, but the most serious evidence of this is the government shutdown of 2013. (Politico, 2013) Republicans & Democrats were so polarized that they become impotent. They couldn’t compromise enough to do their jobs and pass a budget.

As if polarization isn’t a big enough problem, add to the mix the disdain of the two party system. Americans are more disillusioned with the two party system than they have ever been. (Gallup, 2015) It seems the vast majority of voters settle for a vote against an opponent they disagree with, rather than for a representative they’re excited about.

So Americans are forced to compromise in electing representatives to the highest offices in the country, simply because they think they only have two options. Neither of which excite the majority of the public.

It should not be this way.

If we compromise our values and beliefs to elect a politician, how can we fault them when they compromise theirs?

We should not settle when it comes to electing our leaders. The stakes are too high. Simply put, we need more options.

The US needs more than two parties.

All signs point to it. The trends above suggest people are ready for it. The idea isn’t really radical at all. The US political system shouldn’t be controlled by two parties when nearly half of its citizens don’t identify with either. (Gallup, 2015)

Luckily, there is another viable option: Gary Johnson of the Libertaian Party. The merits of the Johnson Weld ticket and the Libertarian Party as a whole are too numerous to expound upon here, so I have linked resources for you.

I am thrilled for the Libertarian Party to have a strong presence this year. I will most likely vote Libertarian for my first presidential election. I encourage you to check into Johnson and the Libertarians. They can topple the duopoly in Washington with your vote.

Jill Stein of the Green Party is also making a relatively strong showing in polls. People are beginning to support outsiders in bigger numbers.

These third and fourth options are a wonderful start, but I feel there is more that should be done.

I think many millions of Americans could rest comfortably in the Libertarian party, but I recognize that some wouldn’t. However, there’s no reason voters should align with either Republicans or Democrats if they don’t feel compelled to.

If not Libertarian, Amercians should have the option of Green PartyReform Party,  American Solidarity Party, or Constitution Party candidates.

I’m encouraged by the third and fourth party support, but why not a fith party?

Brazil has 5 parties. Finland has 6 parties. Germany has 6 partiesDenmark has 9 parties.

There’s no reason a developed country as diverse as the United States should be limited to two parties. If you perfectly align with Republicans or Democrats that’s great, but there are millions who do not. Especially this year. 

The US could transform into a multiparty system that’d more accurately represent the spectrum of views held by its citizens.  It’s entirely possible for the parties above and others yet to gain traction to be represented in all levels of government.

This is an awesome idea, but nothing changes if nothing changes. Other parties only rise if you vote for them.

I encourage you check into the Libertarians and other parties this election cycle. Your vote is only as limited as you make it.

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Should Businesses Refuse Services To Protest LGBT Legislation?

The issue of transgender bathroom use has been a divisive topic recently. There’s a wealth of commentary on nearly every side of the issue. There are even some sympathetic, nuanced perspectives that I think are profitable.

I don’t have much to add the primary conversation, but one thing that struck me was the protest from businesses and individuals.

Bruce Springsteen, PayPal, Disney, and others have boycotted or threatened action in response to legislation concerning transgender bathroom use and other LGBT issues.

Not surprisingly, there was a public response to those actions. These businesses and individuals were met with praise and criticism alike. Public policy issues like this draw plenty of commentary, but it’s always a mixed bag. My concern is not with the quantity of commentary, but the quality.

There seems to be some inconsistency in the attacks and affirmations.

The same people that currently praise these businesses criticized others standing up for their convictions. Likewise, the same people that currently criticize these businesses praised others for doing the same.

I immediately thought of the Christian baker controversy of last year. These bakers didn’t want to bake a cake for a homosexual marriage, as motivated by their beliefs.

Generally speaking, social liberals called these bakers bigoted, while social conservatives praised their convictions. The roles seem to have been reversed this time. Social conservatives call PayPal and others bullies, while social liberals applaud their actions.

This is an incredibly hypocritical stance on both sides.

If Christian bakers should have the right to refuse service other businesses should too. Similarly, if the Christian bakers are bigots for refusing service then other businesses are too.

What’s good for the goose is good for the gander.

It’s totally unfair to ostracize one business for acting on its convictions while admiring another for doing the exact same thing. Social liberals and social conservatives are both guilty of this.

I suppose you can argue that only businesses with your beliefs and convictions should be able to boycott or refuse services. That’s a biased position, but you can hold it.

You cannot, however, argue that it is a business’s right to do so. If so, then other businesses you don’t agree with have license to protest as well.

Sometimes we might have to grit our teeth through a protest or boycott, even if we don’t agree with the beliefs behind it. Our beliefs may motivate a boycott or protest in the future.

So should businesses refuse services for their beliefs?

That’s a complicated question that I cannot answer for you. However, regardless of your stance on that question, you should be consistent in your answer.

What are you thoughts?

You Won’t Be Happy Anywhere If You’re Not Happy In Your Boring, Little Hometown

I see it everywhere, all the time.

“I’m so tired of [insert hometown, home county, or state].” “Can’t wait to get out of here.” “Back in [x] for 10 minutes and I’m ready to leave.” “I hate living here,” and on and on. There are people endlessly pining to be anywhere but where they are now.

True, where you’re at right now might not be the most exciting place on earth. There might be a single grocery store or a few supermarkets. There might be one restaurant or hundreds. There might be a single watering hole or a thriving entertainment district. The fact still remains:

Happiness is not a place.
There’s no location, no matter how intriguing or bustling, that can bring you happiness or fulfillment.

I come from a tiny town in Alabama. There are just under 1,000 voters, so we’re not exactly a bustling metropolitan hub of excitement. There’s a single grocery store (plus a Dollar General if that counts?), a single fast food restaurant, and a single gas station. There’s not much to do, to be quite honest. Trust me. I get it.

What I don’t get is why so many people, especially young people, hate their hometowns. Most people from my area are dying to leave. They think their current location is just a stop on their way to a bustling city with things to do and people to meet. But I feel like I should let them know. You read the title, but I’ll reiterate it again:

You won’t be happy anywhere if you’re not happy in your boring, little hometown. 

There’s absolutely nothing wrong with wanting to travel, or even live somewhere else. I’d love to see every inch of Creation that I can. I want to taste all the food, hear all the music, and live all the culture the world has to offer.

I could do all of that twice and still be unhappy, though. You have to learn to be content, no matter your situation, and no matter your location. Abound and abase.

I love living in Birmingham when I’m at school. There’s tons of music, food, parks, events, and new places for me to experience. But I also love living in my hometown. It’s a little slower paced, for sure. But it’s not a toxic hole of monotony to be escaped; it’s the potter’s wheel that helped mold me into who I am. There’s beauty there just like there is anywhere else.

You absolutely cannot wait for your life to begin or to improve once you move out of where you are. You can have a fulfilling life right where you are. You should have a fulfilling life right where you are.

The change of scenery, the different people, the happenings of other places are just distractions. Those things can keep you occupied, entertained, and satisfied for a time, but that new place you once longed for will soon be as old and worn out as the one you left.