As with all societies and systems, the US goes through the same cycles of order/corruption/chaos — about every 50–125 years. I am certain that we are in the corruption-to-chaos phase in our current cycle. This moment is a true test of our love for liberty and our belief in freedom. Because the great temptation is to a) use tyranny to create order or b) ignore the corruption. Either will lead to the death of any society or culture. New leaders with new thinking and a strong ethical core must rise up to create a new order out of the chaos.
In this cycle, the deck appears to be stacked against us. America has become a moderate nation governed by two extremes …
One is the far right. Emboldened by Trump’s election and fueled by evangelicalism, this group is set on hijacking the republic to create a permanent state of power. This group has killed or is killing classic republicanism. You know you are a part of this group if you think Obama is a Muslim and Trump is a Christian and that patriotism is compulsory.
The other is the far left. Enchanted by socialism and masters of exploiting identity politics, the far left claims the high road of progress while taking the low road of fascism. And in the process, has killed or is killing classic liberalism. You know you are part of this group if you hate capitalism but benefit greatly from it and preach tolerance but don’t have any friends that don’t think like you.
Both sides are fueled by ego-centric hate, narrowness, tribalism and binary thinking. And both are subsidized by our current political systems. Which leads to this … how does one save the republic? Where does that leave the large majority of Americans that are moderate, rational, aware citizens? What actions can be taken?
Here are two key actions that would produce near-term results …
First, we need to eliminate party-based primaries. The primary system is the #1 culprit of extremism. In most areas of the country, roughly only 30% of eligible voters are determining who the final candidates are. To get their portion of this 30%, candidates need to either tack hard left or hard right. This produces either strident politicians or politicians that are so malleable that they can pretend to be what’s necessary to get through the primary process. The long term solution is that the primary process should be replaced with a run-off model. In this model, you can run under the banner of any party you want but the top two finishers (regardless of party) are the main candidates in the general election. A shorter term solution is to ban closed primaries. This would allow independents and cross-party voters to vote in the primaries — thus infusing a level of moderation.
Second, we need to implement federal term limits. Yeah, I know this has been tried before. But it was done through the legislative process and was eventually over-turned by the Supreme Court. In addition, there is no way in hell that either major party would endorse term limits at this point. It’s time to tackle this issue again but with a different tool: crowdsourcing. If a group of influential cross-party moderates (such as David French or Dave Rubin) were to lead a crowdsourced class action lawsuit, it would work it’s way through the federal court system. This sets the legal precedence for federal term limits. And legal precedences are much harder to over-turn than legislative ones. There are millions of independent voters and clear-thinking moderates from the two parties that don’t have a voice. This class action suit gives them (us!) a voice in the political process.
As always, our best instincts should be to return to the inalienable principles of freedom, equality, liberty, justice. But just as we’ve done in our past, it’s time to take some decisive, direct action to ensure that these principles continue for another generation.