Dispatch From the Frontlines: Cold Civil War
by Bryan Puertas
You have seen it. Election night maps carving up the country into red or blue territory. Rival camps broadcasting from their War Rooms, demonizing the other and inciting the faithful to arms. A downtrodden, suffering citizenry that pays the price for endless partisan fighting. Congratulations America, we have our own War of the Roses, a cold civil war that has been going on for over a century.
It may sound like hyperbole, but it’s helpful as a way to wrap your head around current events and decide how to move forward. This country was founded as a haven for those looking to escape the dynastic warfare of the old world, yet we have regressed to the point where we are saddled with two rival houses, alike in indignity, who tell us if only the other was out of the picture then they could finally get around to solving our problems. In the meantime, we are falling further and further behind on our economy, infrastructure, and quality of health and education. In short, the refusal of the parties to address problems unless they hold all the cards has made us broke, broken, sick, and stupid.
And mad. Definitely mad. Mad enough to renounce fealty to the parties and look to solve our problems ourselves. In less than a generation, the number of voters declaring their independence has grown to over 40%. And among the young, that number is over half. We have checked the Constitution, and there is no Divine Right of Party. Yet these two private clubs have infiltrated every branch of government, and their only interest is in keeping their position at any cost, regardless of who suffers. It is that spirit of party uber alles that holds back any progress or innovation, and if we are to move forward as a country, that is the biggest battle to be fought.
What does that battle look like?
It looks like nonpartisan redistricting. Open primaries. Initiative and Referendum. Term limits. Structural reforms that take away the institutional advantages the parties have written in for themselves after a over a century in power.
It looks like regular people like you in phone rooms, on street corners and doorsteps, in letters to the editor and commenting on the internet, opening up peoples’ minds to an alternative to straight-down-the-party-line serfdom.
It looks like you, yes you, getting out your credit card and giving an uncomfortable amount of money to independentvoting.org, and then giving more than that next year.
It took twenty years of guerrilla movement building to open the primaries in California last June, and that’s the kind of existential threat the parties have made a business of crushing for over a century. Already there are court cases in Idaho and South Carolina attempting to undo our progress. The bigger we get, the more nasty and cutthroat they will get in return. It makes sense, they are at war. The cold civil war. Welcome to the front lines. Whose side are you on, We the People, or They the Parties?
Bryan Puertas is a campus organizer and fundraiser, as well as vice chair of the Queens County Independence Party. If reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, he will ask you to help build the independent movement. He’s looking forward to hearing from you.