I have been reading a book about the battle of the Alamo. It is a sad tale of a besieged and surrounded fort near San Antonio, Texas. There in the early morning hours of March 6, 1836, its brave defenders all gave their lives for their state and country.
The over 160 American men, of diverse ethnicity, that held that small fort from February 23 until the final assault by Mexican troops on March 6, knew that the Mexican General Santa Anna did not take prisoners and that their time on this earth would shortly and violently be over.
There were several famous American frontiersmen, including Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett who died at the battle of the Alamo. Accounts recorded later by Mexican officers and an officer’s widow and a male black slave, the only adult lives spared, are filled with the horrors of kissing a young husband goodbye as he ran out to meet certain death and watching friends and loved ones mutilated before and after they were killed.
It was an ugly affair. The Americans that fought so bravely for their country knew that they had three choices. To surrender to Santa Anna’s overwhelming forces knowing their executions had already been ordered, be cut down and killed trying to save themselves by escaping through the over 5,000 Mexicans troops that were encamped around them, or to stoically hold out against overwhelming odds for as long as possible before meeting their deadly fate.
American’s voters of today are not so different from the men who died at the Alamo. We are still patriotic, brave, and somewhat ornery. Whether a revolutionary shout of, “Give me liberty or give me death” or a besieged and surrounded World War II general’s response of, “Nuts” to a Nazi German officer demanding surrender–America is still a “Damn the torpedoes full steam ahead” country.
The 2016 presidential election is a revolution. It is not a revolution of new ideas, most of the policy initiatives that are being bandied about during this campaign have been around a long time, this is a grassroots voter revolution. Voters are revolting against the two major political parties, not against their nation.
The high voter turnouts out at the ballot box are a reassuring sign that people care about this country and want it to prosper. Voters have recognized that the great problem keeping elected officials from resolving the challenges facing our nation is a political party problem.
Today’s Republican and Democratic parties will not address the problems that face our nation, because those issues would be resolved and could no longer be used to rile up their party’s base. Party leaders believe that issue action threatens re-election. Then, too, solutions would involve–compromise.
First of all, statewide and national elections are not won for either party by turning out just their base. Voters who strongly associate with one party or the other are basically about the same size statistically. Moderate and swing voters decide elections. A candidate’s uncompromising rigid adherence to a party’s platform will turn off moderate voters. These voters generally look for candidates with enough strength of character to be willing to compromise for the common public good.
The ability to compromise has always made our nation great and defined real political leadership. Representative government politics is a game of give and take. We do not all think, like or believe the same things and that is a good thing.
Unfortunately, during the past decade or so, even mentioning being willing to compromise has had the power to alienate an elected official from their hardcore base. If an elected official does work to reach an agreement with members of the opposite political party, they are considered traitors. This distinction usually results in being opposed for future party endorsements and being challenged by a hand-picked, party kiss butt.
Fearing constant political homicide from friendly fire castrates leadership and results in a perpetual legislative stalemate. The tyranny that voters should fear does not and will not come from any presidential candidate. The great threat to our liberty comes from the hard-line activists, in both major parties, whose uncompromising beliefs and fear mongering has led to the very hate, bigotry and threats to our civil rights as outlined in Constitution that they accuse their opponents of practicing and encouraging. Tit for tat politics is no way to develop policy or run a nation. We must respect and protect each other.
Voter interest in filling the leadership void and breaking up the legislative stalemate is why Trump and Sanders appeal to voters. Their popularity is less of a result of their politics than it is of a recognition and appreciation for their daring leadership to stand up to the political parties.
Voters want to choose their own candidates and have the parties support their choices not the other way around. The electorate is sending a loud and clear message, to those who wish to listen, demanding freedom from the shackles of manipulative and rigid political parties and a nomination system deliberately designed to ensure those parties continue in power by supplying an endless parade of party-insider candidates whose love of self and loyalty to the organization surpasses love of country.
It seems to me that voters in this election have much in common with the defenders of the Alamo. They are patriots that are not going to capitulate to overwhelming force. They are not going to desert their nation and run away from their civil responsibilities. They are refusing to yield.
The party conventions this summer are going to be the best shows in town…just saying.