Ranked choice voting has recently passed in Maine, which may potentially pave the way for independents and third parties to make inroads into government. And I have to say, in many ways, both the Republicans and the Democrats have outlived their usefulness, becoming more and more alike as the years have passed. All of them are funded by corporations. Yes, yes, the current president can't be bought. Whatever. I'll argue that in a different post - suffice it to say, his most valuable currency is adulation. Regardless, the Republican Party and the Democratic Party have consistently demonstrated complete willingness to be bought. While the differences between Trump and any other candidate were stark, the differences between the other various Republican and Democrat candidates during the primaries was a matter of degree. They were all upper class people with upper class problems and upper class disconnect. God knows the Democrats do everything they can to roll over and beg for compromise. At least the Republicans actually take the initiative and push their stuff through, however much I might disagree with their general idiocy.
But honestly, not a single one of these arrogant assholes, Republican or Democrat, is going to be affected directly by a single piece of legislation they pass or block. First of all, for the most part, they're beyond the age of unwanted pregnancy, so things like birth control and prenatal health care are meaningless. They're also beyond the income class of needing to be concerned about any legal repercussions for anything. It doesn't matter if they have immigrants in their families, or whether they have addiction issues. They can buy their way out of everything. So I would argue that the average Democrat has no more incentive than the average Republican at actually fighting for the rights of poor people.
They put on a show, of course. One of my darling senators, Susan Collins, is a prime example. She's a Republican, and often bills herself as a moderate, independent Republican - a vote that we Maine folks can count on to be ours. However, she let that ignorant moron DeVos get out of committee when Collins was perfectly capable of stopping her before the storm started. She pussed out and voted along party lines, so that then she could "take a stand" and vote "no" when her vote was visible. Senator Collins is not young enough - or poor enough - to have children in public school. She has absolutely no incentive to place a decent person in charge of education. None. Why would she possibly care? She has her job, she votes her own pay raises, and as long as she looks like she's representing Maine, she'll keep her job. She's a slimeball.
That's where the pull of independents and third parties comes in. There's this hope that those people might be struggling like the rest of us, or at least might be close enough to the ground that they still maintain some connection to reality. They haven't gotten far enough up to be "worth" being bought, at least on a larger scale. I am definitely tired of the gentry that governs this country. Give me my taciturn neighbor with no academic background but a hell of a lot of work ethic over the rest of these idiots any day.
However, realistically, third party and independent candidates only have a shot if they have money to begin with. It's expensive to run a political campaign, to get yourself noticed, even at the state level. You have to be able to take time off of your job to campaign, you have to be able to find the money to do things like make signs and brochures, and much, much more. You've got to either be independently wealthy or at least directly connected to the directly wealthy.
And that leads us back to the original problem, and the very reason why we may be doomed to remain a two-party oligarchy. The only way a person who is not independently wealthy can reach elected office is to become an active participant in one of the major parties. And once you're backed by a major party, you realize your party's funding comes from corporations and rich people - and you represent your funders. So whatever ideals you might have approached politics with go out the window, as you yourself quietly and quickly reach beyond your original income class - and forget about it altogether.