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Left-Leaning Social Libertarian

by J.P. Prag about a month ago in voting
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Debunking the Myth of the Two-Party System

A map from 1856 entitled “Reynolds’s Political Map of the United States” that shows free and slave states and populations. Image and description by REYNOLDS, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons from Library of Congress collection.

» KEY POINTS

  • The Republican and Democratic Parties— along with the media that follow them—perpetuate a lie that they are the only two choices in town.
  • This lie is used to keep particular politicians in control; and the media rich in viewers and advertising dollars. An “Us vs. Them” never-ending war is good for those groups, though not the citizenry as a whole.
  • People who do not subscribe to either major Political Party far outnumber those who do and therefore have all of the power, if only they would take it.

Headlines on CNN, Fox News, and all their brethren proclaim horror! The citizens of the United States are losing faith that democracy is safe in this country. Republicans blame Democrats, Democrats blame Republicans, and each act as if they represent at least half of all people—if not some secret super majority that is not speaking up. On September 15, 2021, CNN released the results of a poll on the subject including one tidbit they keep using in many subsequent pieces:

Among Republicans, 78% say that Biden did not win...

Well, that sounds downright terrifying. If nearly 8 out of every 10 Republicans believe the Big Lie that Joe Biden did not legitimately win the office of President of the United States, then there must be a massive danger of nearly 130 million people (~332 million people from the 2020 Census * 50% being Republicans * 78% who do not believe Biden won) ready to take up arms, revolt, and install their dictator-in-chief Donald Trump. Oh, and just forget that people under 18 represent over 22% of the total population; or that this is totally based on “a sample of 2,119 adults initially reached by mail” (a group certainly as diverse as the entire nation because 100% of the population definitely responds to random pieces of junk mail); or that according to Pew Research only 29% of registered voters identify as Republicans.

» BUNK BEDS

Wait... what was that last one? Only 29% of registered voters identify as Republicans? And that number has been dropping for years. For the most recent national election in November 2020, the Census Bureau released a breakdown of the voting age population and how many of them are registered voters. As a summary:

  • Voting Age Population: 252 million
  • Registered to Vote: 168 million
  • Actually Voted: 155 million
A Trump supporter shouts “Get a job!” to an anti-Trump protester on March 4, 2017. Photo and description by FIBONACCI BLUE FROM MINNESOTA, USA, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

If we plug in the numbers of those who categorically did vote with our more accurate Republican counts, we have already dropped from 130 million to 35 million, or 73% less. Of course, that is if we really believe the results of this survey which—if you cannot tell—I do not. Are there millions of people who erroneously believe the 2020 Presidential Election was stolen from then President Donald Trump? Yes, and it is troublesome, but it is not the imminent danger these news sources and bloggers are heralding it to be.

Composite image of maps from the 2004 Presidential election to show how deceptive each can be. Counterclockwise from top left: standard map of winner by state; range of votes by county; resizing the country for population density. Picture and description produced by ZSCOUT370, CC-BY-2.0, via Wikimedia Commons.

Let us pretend for a moment that the 35 million number is accurate. That would mean that roughly 10–11% of Americans are complete goofballs (to put it mildly). When placed into those terms, I find that number totally acceptable. To be clear: goofballs deserve representation, too. There is no reason they should be excluded from society and government; their political opinions are just as valid as yours and mine. But do you know who else deserves representation? The majority of people who are not Republicans or Democrats.

Returning to that same Pew Research poll, not only did 29% of respondents identify as Republicans, but 33% said they were Democrats and 34% said they were Independent (leaving 4% who identified as a specific third party like Green, Libertarian, or others). That would mean the largest Political Party in the United States is No Political Party. If we combine data sets, we get something more like this:

Data table showing that people who do not prescribe to either major party in America are by far the largest proportion of potential voters.

In other words, the two major Political Parties in the United States that control 99% of all available elected and appointed positions (the very definition of an oligopoly) are supported by only 41% of voting-age people. The real largest group in the United States are non-voters—who often do not vote because they feel their voice will make no impact—followed by unaffiliated people. Combined together, everyone not aligned with a principal Political Party outnumber those who are by almost 42%.

This is the real Big Lie: that there are only two Political Parties in the United States and you must align to one or the other. In the media and in the government, this lie is told over and over again for the purposes of maintaining power and creating hysteria about “the other” in order to have viewers and sell advertisement. These Parties hold supremacy for no good reason other than we allow the lie to live, even though in plain numbers it is not even remotely true. If we told the real story and let people know they not only have choice, but have the power, then we could have a wide span of Parties representing us in all areas of government. Unfortunately, that truth provides no benefit to anyone but the actual citizenry.

» TELL ME WHAT TO DO

Even the so-called non-partisan study centers help perpetuate the lie. In the same Pew Research report from above, the authors presented the results of their survey forcing people into either Democrat or Republican buckets. Doing that made 49% of respondents Democrats and 44% Republicans (with 7% still refusing to join either). Pew also has a research quiz that is supposed to help undecided voters understand where they stand. I took that quiz and ended up with this result:

Results from the Pew Research Political Quiz that shows I am on the fringe of a fringe, but still somehow aligned with a major Political Party.

And here it is in plain text. While trying to understand where I stood on highly complex political issues, Pew—the premier research institution in the entire world—handed me a tool that would only place me on a two-dimensional scale that ranged from “Core Conservative” to “Solid Liberal”. In other words, they were going to decide whether I was a Republican or Democrat, and which type of sub-group I am a part of within that overarching assemblage. Apparently, I am a “Disaffected Democrat”, and even on the far edge of that one. What separates me from the more traditional “Opportunity Democrats” and “Solid Liberals” is that “[i]n contrast to other Democratic-oriented groups, a majority (63%) characterizes government as ‘almost always wasteful and inefficient.’”

I was not satisfied with being pigeonholed into one of the major Parties and wanted something with more breadth across the entirety of available choices. As such, I headed over to I Side With... and took their political quiz. While it gave me a large list of Parties and by what percentage I aligned with each, I was most amused with seeing these two results together:

Results from isidewith.com that shows I support two completely opposite Political Parties in equal measure.

Apparently, I support both “Big Government” and “Small Government” at the same time. Libertarians and the American Solidarity Party are polar opposites in every way, yet the survey would have me believe I support both equally. This contradiction made me laugh, but also made me doubt the veracity of these results. Surely I could not be so contradictory, at least not to that degree. As such, I turned my attention to 9Axes which focuses more on where one stands on categories of issues instead of on Political Parties, allowing me to make the leap myself from beliefs to political alignment:

Results from 9Axes that is probably more accurate to my beliefs, but does not offer much help in what I am supposed to do with this data.

This one was interesting and helped me see where I stood on specific issues, but it is so opaque that I cannot actually take anything away from it in terms of which type of candidates to support. So that brought me to The Political Compass which wanted to give me a direction:

Results from The Political Compass that was founded because the Left/Right two-dimensional scale only captures economic beliefs, not social beliefs.

Thankfully, there it is. Reading through my results and using this chart it is clear as mud: I am a left-leaning social libertarian. Glad we could tidy that up.

» GOING TO THE POLLS

At the end of the day, it does not matter what any of these charts say about me, you, and the population as a whole. They are interesting instruments, but all they help point out is the same as what we have seen from the surveys: the Republican and Democratic Parties do not align nor represent the majority of Americans, even among those who belong to and identify with those Parties. We must stop believing their lie that only serves to benefit the elected instead of the electorate. Picking a candidate that most aligns to your matrix is not a wasted vote. What is a waste is using your unique voice to support the politician that is the least-worst of a couple of bad choices, or not bothering to show up at all.

The above piece is an excerpt from Always Divided, Never United: And Other Stories During a Time of Pandemics and Politics by J.P. Prag, available at booksellers worldwide.

Have the troubles of our age ripped us apart more than any point in history? Or has it forever been this way?

Learn more about author J.P. Prag at www.jpprag.com.

An earlier version of this article appeared on Medium.

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About the author

J.P. Prag

J.P. Prag is the author of "Always Divided, Never United", "New & Improved: The United States of America", and "In Defense Of... Exonerating Professional Wrestling's Most Hated". Learn more at www.jpprag.com.

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