Commentary, Elections

Gary Johnson: The Two-Party System Makes Keeping Score Outweigh Good Public Policy

Another election, another round of non-stop analysis.

A massive turnout in Virginia produces a Democrat governor and a historic shift in the legislature, including the defeat of a delegate who had sponsored a “bathroom bill” by a transgender candidate. How’s that for irony?

Was it about Donald Trump? Was it some tectonic shift in voter attitudes? A great many “experts” are all over cable news rendering their opinions — most of which are predictable spin based upon their loyalties.

Earlier this year, a victory in an Alabama U.S. Senate Republican primary by a Trump-like, if not Trump-endorsed, candidate was similarly analyzed to death.

We’ll never really get anywhere unless we alter the rules or the game itself

It’s like Ping Pong. The ball keeps going back and forth over the net between the Republicans and Democrats, but never really goes anywhere. Unless we alter the rules or the game itself, that won’t change.

Exit polls showed that, by far, the most important issue to voters in Virginia (and probably elsewhere) Tuesday was health care. Republicans have campaigned on repealing Obamacare for seven years. They took control of the White House and both houses of Congress.

But what’s been done? Nothing. From a purely political standpoint, voters are split on whether they actually want Obamacare repealed. But they aren’t split on what they think of politicians who promise to do something, and don’t.

Many of us believe deficit spending and the obscenity of a $20 trillion federal debt may be the greatest threat our nation faces. It has been incurred by Bush, Obama, and now Trump. Democrats in control of Congress or Republicans. It doesn’t matter. They just keep piling up the debt.

Republicans or Democrats on foreign policy and war? Show me a real difference other than the tone and tenor of Tweets. We’re still fighting wars we can’t win and sending young men and women into harm’s way without real strategies for success or justifications.

Civil liberties and privacy? Strangely enough, it doesn’t seem to matter who is in charge. Whether a Democrat or a Republican, when Presidents and their appointees get their hands on the tools of the NSA, DEA, FBI et. al., they just can’t seem to stop themselves from using – and defending – the abuses those tools allow.

Let us remember that the purpose of politics is to get us to good public policy

Elections are important. But if recent history is an indication, it is not unreasonable to interrupt the non-stop analysis with a simple question: What difference does it make?

In fairness, it remains to be seen whether the Republicans can manage to achieve much-needed tax reform. At least they appear to be trying – and the lobbying business is booming.

But even if tax reform happens, it will be a striking exception to what has become the rule: The self-preservation instincts of an entrenched two-party-controlled government will inevitably come down on the side of big government, spending rather than cutting, and avoiding the kind of dramatic change that is needed on many policy fronts.

Watching the pundits and commentary about yet another election, it is clear that, for too many, that keeping score has become more important than governing.

Maybe it’s time to remember that the purpose of politics is policy. And elections seem to have less and less of a real impact on policy.

That’s what we get when two and only two varieties of the same basic establishment play ping pong. Lots of noise, lots of back and forth, but all within the confines of a big government table.

(Vice Presidential Candidate Governor William Weld and Presidential Candidate Governor Gary Johnson attend the SiriusXM Libertarian Presidential Forum at the National Constitution Center on September 12, 2016, in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. Photo by Bill McCay/Getty Images for SiriusXM.)

Gary Johnson

Gary Johnson is an entrepreneur, served two terms as Governor of New Mexico, and in 2016, as the Libertarian nominee for President of the United States, garnered more votes than any third party or independent candidate in twenty years.

In addition to his success in business and public policy, Governor Johnson has reached the summit of the highest peak on each of the seven continents, including Mt. Everest, competed in numerous Iron Man Triathlons, and tackled some of the most grueling cycling challenges in the world.

Governor Johnson currently serves as the Honorary Chair of the Our America Initiative, out of a deep desire to insure that future generations of Americans have the same opportunities for personal and financial freedom that he has enjoyed.

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