An idea I've been kicking around for a temporary political party, as an alternative to Democrats and Republicans:
The name, the Farewell Party, comes from Washington's Farewell Address of 1796, in which he warns America: "One of the expedients of party to acquire influence, within particular districts, is to misrepresent the opinions and aims of other districts." Washington was worried that the development of the Federalist and Democratic-Republican parties would distort the democracy promised in the Constitution to such an extent that ultimately the people would be loyal to parties rather than to their nation, and be dependent upon party interlocutors to represent their political wills.
We have, in 2009, reached a point in our history, where two parties dominate almost all of federal politics. The Democratic Party was formed in the beginning of the nineteenth century to oppose the interests of Great Britain in the Americas, and to oppose the creation of a federal bank. The Republican party, comprised of Abolitionist Whigs, was formed in the years before the Civil War. Neither party currents stands for its original values nor original purpose. Currently, each party is a coalition of special interests, banded together not so much for a shared ideology as much as a hope that each party would uphold the interests of its adherents. Were each party to dissolve, its current adherents would probably not associate with each other politically. One cannot imagine Fiscal Conservatives and Post-Millenarian Evangelicals sharing a political party unless power were restricted into two narrow channels. Similarly, the majority of people voting Democrat have nothing in common except a fear of what happens when Republicans acquire power.
Divorced from its original purpose, each party exists only to defend itself against its opponent-- even when such a defense does harm to the nation as a whole. Each party solicits copious amounts of money from whatever sources prove the most lucrative, in order to fund its political campaigns. Most often, this money comes from lobbies that want those they sponsor to execute their own political agenda, making these politicians inherently beholden to their political and corporate benefactors.
Indeed many of these lobbies sponsor politicians from both parties, giving lie to the idea that the parties oppose one another. They share power. They share power, and they exclude any but themselves from participating in the process. This is toxic to any true democracy. The two parties have embodied a false dichotomy. This cannot continue. Neither party deserves your vote, and we are led to believe that voting for any candidate who is neither a Democrat nor a Republican is a wasted vote, "throwing a vote away".
Some of these sponsors actually count the votes. Many of the machines that count our votes are built by people predisposed to favor one candidate over others. One manufacturer of such machines actually promised the Republican Party in 2004 that they would deliver the State of Ohio to the Republicans. Such a voting system cannot be trusted to convey an accurate assessment of who voted for whom.
As a result of all of this, the majority of Americans elligible to vote are either Independent, or do not vote. Most have no faith that, even assuming their vote is accurately counted, their vote will have any real consequence. Most are aware that the two parties choose their candidates from a pool chosen by the parties and their sponsors. The individual voter has to weigh which corporate interests are most akin to their own, and vote accordingly. The candidate who opposes such a regime do not get enough campaign funds to win an election. There is a direct correlation between campaign funds and campaign victory. While the federal government does provide matching funds, the bulk of campaign funds comes from corporate and private interests.
In short, the two parties have a lock on all politics in the USA. They have shown, time and time again, that they are more interested in consolidating that power than they are in effecting the will of the people. They are inexorably corrupt, and need to be removed from power, and removed from the political landscape. I am not suggesting that they be abolished. I am suggesting that they be charged with corruption, and upon being found guilty, being dissolved. Were the Republican Party to be dissolved, it would be replaced by six or more parties, each representing the will of its adherents far more cleanly than the Republican Party does. Were the Democratic Party to be dissolved, it would be replaced by a few new parties, and many more Independents.
Each of the two parties is a coalition of allied groups. It would be better if each group represented its own interests cleanly and directly, without having to plead to a powerful organization for some representation in back-room deals.
I call this new party "The Farewell Party" partly out of reference to George Washington's Farewell Address of 1796, and partly because this party intends to dissolve if a) it ever has a successful presidential candidate elected, or b) or after the third non-Democrat non-Republican party gets its presidential candidate elected. Until then, we will exist as a reminder that the two nineteenth century parties that monopolize power between them have no further reason to exist in a free country in the twenty-first century.
At this point I will make a list of principles (in no particular order) that make sense for the Farewell Party in 2009:
Any electronic voting system requires a paper record for every vote. Any source code for any such machine must be made publicly available in an license deemed open-source by the Open Source Initiative(OSI).
The Democratic Party and the Republican Party should be held to account for their corruption, and if it can be shown that they have held on to power to the detriment of the country's well-being, be dissolved permanently, and should any new parties appear that are either old party in all but name, those should be dissolved as well. There will most likely be First Amendment issues involved in this move, which is why it should be shown that this dissolution is punishment for corruption charges. If a new party wishes to form from the ruins of these disgraced parties, it should justify its existence.
Corporations operating in the United States should write up corporate charters, each with a ten-year expiration date. A public hearing should be held to ratify each such charter, and a public hearing should be held to renew each such charter. Any complaints about the conduct of said corporation should be brought up during the renewal hearing, and if found legitimate, the corporation should be dissolved. Corporations chartered in the USA must obey the laws of the United States, even with regards to their foreign laborers, if such laws do not contradict the local laws. Corporations are afforded the same rights and responsibilities as individuals. This being the case, a felony, which currently disenfranchises an individual voter, should disenfranchise a corporation. The death penalty, which currently exists in 38 states, as well as the Federal Government and the US Military, should apply to any corporations who do business in those 38 states, or with the Federal Government or the US Military. The death penalty applied to corporations should apply to its board of directors and its CEO, and the corporation's charter should be permanently revoked, and any corporation which is the same as its executed predecessor in all but name should be banned from forming.
Copyright, which the Constitution assures us should only exist for a limited time, should extend for a small fraction of a human lifetime, say between 3 and 14 years depending on what is copyrighted. Software should be copyrighted for the least amount of time, and artistic works owned by the original artist should be copyrighted for the longest period of time.
Drugs prohibition should end immediately and forever. Any commodity made illegal because it competes with successful existing commodities should be legalized. Those that live by the free market should die by it if they cannot compete freely. Patents on medications should be abolished. Patents on software should be abolished. If this proves unconstitutional, then patents on software or medication should exist for 30 days after general release, and experimental medicines and software should not be protected by patent. The Constitution assures us that patents should only exist for a limited time. No patent should last longer than two decades, in any case.
A democracy cannot secure both liberty and secrecy. The Freedom of Information Act should be bolstered. No document should continue to be classified as secret (or any variation thereof) for more than two decades. A similar act to the FOIA should exist for corporations chartered in the USA.
Cannabis products have many industrial, nutritional, and medicinal uses. Cannabis makes cheaper ethanol than corn does, cleaner plastics and slicker industrial lubricants than petroleum does, and higher protein than flax seed does, better paper than wood pulp does, and better rope, cord and twine than any other natural fiber. Cannabis prohibition has proven a greater social evil than its proliferation, with the exception of its illegal trade for psychotropic purposes, which hurts or kills thousands annually in North America. Cannabis grown for psychotropic purposes, henceforth in this document referred to as marijuana, cannot be sold, but only given away for free, and only among adults over the age of consent. It would be detrimental to the public good if marijuana were to become a mass-market commodity, and therefore, it will be free of price in perpetuity, as it is a weed that grows everywhere. This will probably require a Constitutional Amendment.
Government offices must use software whose source code is open to public inspection via ftp or other such method. All software must be open by OSI definition. We now know that even military software can be open-source, and still provide adequate security. In addition, electronic documents must be stored in an ISO-approved format, such as ASCII or Unicode, its text be readable in a text editor, and its graphics be viewable in any generic image-viewing software.
All current and former military personnel are to receive high quality health and psychiatric care for free for the rest of their lives. Also, because no veteran should be homeless, all current and former military personnel should receive low-income housing for free, if necessary. Whether the rest of the population should also receive such care for free in perpetuity should be discussed.
Foreclosed homes should be made available to homeless people until such homes are resold. People temporarily housed in such a fashion should be evicted for damaging the property of these homes, if such damage exceeds their ability to repair.
Any campaign fraud should render a candidate ineligible to continue to be a candidate. Two distinct cases of fraud should render a candidate permanently ineligible to run for office in any capacity. Any act of election fraud should render its culprit disenfranchised permanently, and forever excluded from participating in any political capacity.
Every television or radio or cable channel license granted by the FCC requires that each channel should devote at least one hour of its broadcast day to the news. A communications company that owns more than one channel can exempt themselves by having one channel in each medium be a 24 hour news channel. Any pieces in any news program shown to have been produced by a corporation or political lobby to promote its political agenda must be labeled as such, or the license of the broadcaster will be revoked. Every film and television program must include its financial sponsors in its credits, visible to any who watch the program or film.
Legislators must read the entirety of bills they vote upon (they can abstain without reading the bill). Upon voting for a bill, a legislator affirms that they have read the bill in its entirety, and if such an affirmation is shown to be false, the legislator's constituency can recall them, or their legislative body can vote them out of office.