Maybe we're not complete idiots after all
I want to make it very clear that I am not personally advocating any of the positions which I argue below are wrongly excluded from our political dialog. I am merely suggesting that if they were part of the debate, our conclusions might be more thoughtful, more helpful, and more beneficial to all of us, even if they are rejected (which in at least some of the cases I would hope that they would be).
Consider one controversial issue. Remember the disclaimer with which I closed my last paragraph, now.
Ever since Roe v. Wade was handed down, polls have shown that, by a wide margin, Americans 1) do not want to see abortion outlawed, but 2) oppose the legality of abortion for the reasons that nearly all abortions are, in fact, performed in this country (that different questions in the same polls consistently have shown these results down through the years rather clearly compels the conclusion that support for Roe v. Wade among non-lawyers unfamiliar with the details of that decision is actually opposition to the banning of abortion, rather than support of Roe's actual details).
So the American people are given the choice between a party which wants abortion legal in practically all circumstances, and a party which wants it illegal in practically all circumstances. Democracy is defeated, dialog is polarized, and the vast majority of voters are left with no party which reflects a position with any nuance at all.
Another example: "progressive" intimidation and strong-arm tactics have, to a great extent, silenced opposition to marriage re-definition, leaving the voters with the alternatives of either equating same-sex relationships which are rarely long-term, often non-monogamous when they are long-term, have a high tendency to be abnormally dysfunctional in other ways,, and most importantly ignore the historic legal reasoning for marriage in the first place- protection for the relationship in which children are born and nurtured- in favor of a recent and rather sentimental rather than rational protection for "loving relationships," or simply denying all legal protection and support for those gay and lesbian relationships which are stable, long-term, and nurturing of the larger community. The dichotomy between the radical Left and the reactionary Right has left the discussion of other possible arrangements- civil unions, for example, or the development of institutions parallel to marriage in the gay and lesbian communities which reflect the realities of their own unique circumstances- completely off the table.
There are serious, if unintended, consequences here. For example, if is true that "love" rather than the stable nuclear family, is to be the legal rationale for marriage, it is difficult to see how that very logic does not suggest the unfairness and perhaps the unconstitutionality of marriage as an institution- marriage for anybody. Doesn't it discriminate against "loving" but non-permanent relationships? Serial monogamy? One-night stands? Don't the people who engage in such relationships count, too?
If it's unfair to discriminate against people on the basis of whom they love (yes, I know that's not really the issue, but it is the Left's rhetoric), then isn't it equally unfair to discriminate against people on the basis of how long they love? Or how many? If limiting marriage to traditional male-female couples is discriminatory, what about forbidding legal protection to polygamous or polyandrous relationships?
On the other hand, is it really fair for the healthy partner of in a long-term gay or lesbian relationship to be forbidden the right to visit a sick partner in the hospital, or to have him or her covered by health insurance?
The inappropriate, at best premature, and often clearly unconstitutional interjection of personal and highly questionable judicial opinions and ideologies into matters best left to the ebb and flow of democratic debate and the actual evolution of societal attitudes has created a bizarre climate in which much unnecessary polarization has taken place in our society. No less a "progressive" icon than Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg recently conceded that Roe, for example, was premature, given the status of the debate on the issue of abortion at the time, and as a result ended up exacerbating rather than resolving society's division on the issue. But how can it be otherwise, when the dynamics of our entire political system seem geared to dichotomize and polarize our personal positions on issue after issue?
Even a third, "moderate" party isn't the answer. After all, a great deal of the problem is that so many radical Leftists (especially in the media) and off-the-wall Rightists alike are unaware that their positions are extreme! Such are the consequences of a political structure which makes our political dialog a bipolar mutual harangue between un-nuanced, extremes, a binary choice between equally ill-considered positions. The thoughtful voter of nuanced mind simply has nowhere to go.
Not that we have many of those. Seldom has our electorate been as ill-educated, ill-informed, and lacking in the most essential disciplines of nuanced thought. But at least we seem to be waking up to the reality that the present system isn't working.
Maybe there might be worse things than a multiplicity of major parties electing what our British or Australian or Canadian cousins might call "hung congresses," and even "hung Electoral Colleges," and forced to govern by coalition and negotiation. Alas, a great many of those dissatisfied with the status quo rail against precisely that vital component of the government of free people, and complain that the current arrangement doesn't force our politicians to be radical and un-nuanced enough.
But it might be at least a start. Better that our options include the "Friends of the Moon" (an actual Italian political party several years ago, with seats in Parliament and everything).
It might force the Democrats and the Republicans to be more responsible, more nuanced- and more viable as potential leaders of a nation desperately in need of reasoned debate rather than slogan-throwing and name-calling- and unthoughtful, extreme policies which benefit nobody, and only serve to drive us further apart without yielding solutions.