Americans are suffering from an epidemic of anger. According to Pew Research, between 2000 and today, the percentage of Democrats with a “very unfavorable” view of Republicans has risen from 16 to 52%. Among Republicans, it rose from 17 to 52%. Anger has seeped into our social fabric so much that around 55% of Americans don’t approve of their children marrying someone from the other party.
As Andrew Yang says, our anger is misplaced. We’re mad at the wrong people! These statistics are the consequence of a system corrupted by the conflict of interests of the two major political parties. It’s time to reverse this trend.
The following is Part Three of a three-part series in which we will explore how we can reverse polarization. Read Part One here. Read Part Two here. Choice, Accountability, and Solutions - How we get to a better America.
The Focus of Government Should Be Solving Problems
Let’s talk about SOLUTIONS. We need them. Period. In our current combative congress, we have a solutions problem. Polarization caused by a two-party system stands in the way of solutions-oriented governance. There is an answer to our solutions problem, and we can reform our system so that America will see a path Forward to an era of problem-solving.
The Impact of Failure
America is in dire need of solutions. Our problems just keep piling up:
- Over 11 million American children live in poverty, a figure that remains largely unchanged since 2002.
- Income inequality is at levels unprecedented in modern times.
- There was a 30% increase in the murder rate in 2020.
- 77% of Americans believe immigration is a problem, but our last truly comprehensive immigration law overhaul was over 50 years ago.
- Average student loan debt is over $37,000 per student with debt.
These are just some of the issues America is facing—issues that keep us up at night, fraying our nerves and making elections high stakes for those eager to see problems solved.
We’re not getting bang for our buck. Each election cycle, we spend more and more hoping we might get the right leaders into office—leaders who will solve these problems once and for all. But each year, our elections hand us lemons. We spent $14.4 BILLION in the 2020 election, and we are still angry and divided.
Our elections are a long way from leading to solutions, and our leaders are more focused on turning us against each other to maintain their power than on improving our lives.
The Impact on Democracy
With all those issues weighing on the minds of Americans, it’s no wonder that a full one-third of us do not believe that elections reflect the will of the people. The two-party system has led to a level of polarization where two-thirds of Americans believe that we can’t even agree on basic facts, much less solutions. 52% of Republicans and Republican leaners think it’s ok to call Democratic elected officials “evil,” and on the Democratic side, that number is EVEN HIGHER at 57%.
Americans are suffering. We’re living with a chronic disease: democracy failure.
Just 20% of us trust the government to do what’s right—a drastic decline from 54% in 2001 and 60% in 1968! This drop in trust coincides with a drop in bipartisan cooperation. In 1971, the nation enjoyed a high degree of confidence in the government while, at the same time, there were more than 160 Democrats and Republicans in Congress who consistently reached across the aisle to solve problems. Today, only about 53 legislators regularly work with members of the other party to pass laws.
Moderates and independent-minded legislators are disappearing. It has reached a point where Politico wrote that bipartisan legislators are on the verge of “extinction.” Each party believes that only they have the winning solutions. Such rigid ideology is destructive because winning elections—not implementing solutions—has become the top priority.
Through increasingly undemocratic means such as gerrymandering, the two-party system is turning us against one another. The division they have manufactured is making us angry at the wrong people, and it’s seeping into every institution in America. We’ve lost sight of what we have in common because our system benefits from focusing on what drives us apart.
Our leaders aren’t solving problems. They’re creating them.
OUR SOLUTIONS PROBLEM
How can we expect solutions when Congress is locked in a two-sided partisan battle for power? We can’t, and so of course we have grown disillusioned. To restore faith and hope in America, we must find a solution to our solutions problem.
Yes, we know, it’s a bit meta. But we have to start by solving the problems that are preventing us from solving our problems!
What problems are these?
- A faulty election process that serves parties, not people
- Lack of choice at the ballot promoting two stagnant parties
- Partisan primaries excluding tens of millions of American voters
- Gerrymandering that means that in more than 90% of elections voters can’t hold elected officials accountable for solutions
- Campaign finance laws that allow special interests to steer policies
THE SOLUTION TO OUR SOLUTIONS PROBLEM
The solution to our solutions problem is democracy reform - something we have placed at the center of the Forward Party platform.
- Hold representatives accountable through better election practices like ranked-choice voting and nonpartisan primaries.
- End Gerrymandering through nonpartisan redistricting commissions to eliminate conflicts of interest.
- Increase the power of the people by reforming campaign finance laws, preventing corporations and special interests from drowning out our voices.
When politics makes it impossible to get solutions, frustration grows. And this frustration leads to lack of trust in our system, anger, and violence. This will only worsen as problems continue to be ignored.
We need to start finding solutions again.
CHOICE. ACCOUNTABILITY. SOLUTIONS.
NOT LEFT. NOT RIGHT. FORWARD.
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