* By Sherwood Ross *
As both the Republican and Democratic political parties are locked into a national security state that is perpetually at war, Americans urgently need to create a third political party, a law school dean writes.
“It will take a third party to allow us to shed the national-security state…which the two major parties are locked into, which they maintain regardless of the votes of the populace, and which will destroy us as surely as it has destroyed previous empires,” writes Lawrence Velvel in his book “An Enemy of the People”(Doukathsan).
Both parties, he charges, cling to policies which do not work, such as the country’s “traditional ready resort to war” that has been “practically an addiction since 1950” and that “has created disasters at home and abroad.” “If we do not cure ourselves of the American addiction to violence,” Velvel continued, “it is only a matter of time until much of the world gangs up on us, with results that nobody can foresee. Such has been the fate of all empires…”
In a blog titled VelvelonNationalAffairs, the law school dean added that a third political party could successfully fight the entrenched parties’ by making better use of the Internet, “especially its rapidly advancing full motion video capacity, to do virtually everything that has to be done in politics: to have small group discussions, to have meetings, to make speeches, to trade writings, to conduct both the written and oral back-and-forth needed to work out positions, to raise whatever money is needed, to arrange for signing petitions, (one of the requirements that the two major parties use to keep third parties off the ballot), to campaign, to communicate with and to see and be seen by the voters.”
Carefully considered positions will be worked out through lengthy, extensive and highly considered deliberations via real time audio/video meetings, Velvel said. “Through such decision-making made possible by the internet, one can foresee positions and compromises being given much greater and far deeper consideration than they receive from the two present major parties with their in-groups, back rooms, and pressuring lobbyists and money men.”
“The use of the internet,” he added, “to work out positions should be a continuous process, so that any necessary changes can be made as facts and circumstances in the world change.” Velvel goes on to say that telephone calls and face to face discussions will still be used but the main work and the main campaigning of a new party would be via Internet.
Velvel called for other reforms, such as scrapping the Electoral College, which he called “a disaster continuously waiting to happen,” and for ending the single member district method of election for the House of Representatives.
In today’s House races, this method “discourages the entry into politics of people who have important ideas not consonant with the conventional wisdom of Republicans and Democrats.” “One notes,” Velvel added, “that the system of winner-take-all single member districts has resulted in 95 percent of the seats in Congress being ‘safe’ seats for which there is no real contest—a result that creates entrenched corruption.”
“It is crucial,” Velvel writes, “to open up the legislature to third parties. Only in that way is it liable to be possible to elect legislators who wish to cause America to recede from being a national security state, and who will vote for policies that serve the interests of the vast bulk of the country instead of the oligarchy of wealth and power that has run it for about the last 50 years.” Velvel said:
“If 40 or 50 third party legislators were elected to Congress (instead of there being only one or two who do not belong to any major party,) the debates over policy and legislation would have quite a different cast, the enacted policy and legislation would like be quite different, presidents could not safely ignore the third party legislators’ views, and we would have a fighting chance to go upward instead of downhill. The initial years of the Republican Party in the 19th century show what a difference can be made by a new party with a fighting chance to win.”
“The needed third party would be given a great boost by requiring a majority vote to win the presidency, and by implementing this through some form of ranked, instant run off system if no candidate initially has more than a plurality,” Velvel continued. “Such a system,” he explained, “would allow people to vote their first choice for a third party candidate whom they favor, with little if any fear that this would throw the election to some Neanderthal if their candidate fails.”
Velvel is dean and cofounder of the Massachusetts School of Law at Andover, established in 1988 to provide a rigorous quality, affordable education to students who would otherwise not be able to obtain a legal education. It is purposefully dedicated to the education of students from minority, immigrant, and low- and middle-income backgrounds.
(Sherwood Ross is a media consultant to the Massachusetts School of Law. Reach him at [email protected]).