The View From Rattlesnake Ridge: The Two Party System Has Failed Us

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Ruminations from an Unabashed Optimist, an Environmental Patriot and a Radical Centrist

Truth is mysterious, elusive, always to be conquered. Liberty is dangerous, as hard to live with as it is elating. We must march toward these two goals, painfully but resolutely, certain in advance of our failings on so long a road.

~ Albert Camus


Walking along the Ammonoosuc River here with Kodi, I contemplate the peaks and valleys of my days recently, reflecting on just the past few months. 

For a short time after the mid-term election I was feeling hopeful. The coalition of the decent had managed to hold off the onslaught of totalitarianism’s most recent wave, but just as quickly my hopes began to ebb.

It began with the election process of newly-elected Speaker of the House Kevin McCarthy. McCarthy had to undergo a grueling 15 round fight for the speakership. So weak in his support that, in order to achieve his election he was forced to make more and more concessions to the far right. Each vote drove his party further and further to the right, yielding more and more power to the most authoritarian members of his party. 

The Democrats, for their part, crowed about their unanimity in opposition to McCarthy. Yet, what did they do besides remaining unanimous? 

When it was all over, the result was even worse than most of us feared. 

The Democrats were still crowing about unanimity but then they compounded their own complicity by smugly pointing at the number of nutcases that had been promoted to positions of authority in the McCarthy administration in order to secure the vote for McCarthy. People who will surely do great harm to our democratic system over the next two years and push us closer to the edge of Constitutional disaster. 

What might have happened if the Democrats had used their unanimity to peel away enough Republicans of good will to elect a responsible Speaker of the House – Liz Cheney or Adam Kinsinger for example – Could they have elected a Speaker who would stand up for core American values?  Perhaps even the NH House Democracts would have taken a page from their example as well. After all, they have an even closer number of members and yet, they too, sat on their thumbs as Republicans installed a Speaker that represents the fringes of the party.

What Republicans promised was going to be a Republican Tsunami in the mid-term election, turned out to be a near-draw with only ten votes separating the parties in The US House.  

Neither party should take any comfort from the results. Independent voters, and those Republicans and Democrats of good will, demonstrated that their disaffection with the parties does not color their understanding of the threat to democracy posed by Donald Trump and the majority of Republicans. They came out in droves to save the Republic from the crazies in the Republican Party, not to save the Democrats, for whom they harbor ill-disguised contempt as well. 

Now let me be clear about what I am saying. I do not in any way want to convey an equivalency between the threats to our Democracy from the current Republican party and the feckless Democrats. 

I do, on the other hand, mean to convey an equivalency between the parties when it comes to doing any more than putting band-aids on gaping wounds in our country. If we don’t find real solutions to the growing disparity of wealth and the warming of the planet, and soon, none of the silly engagements between Democrats and Republicans will mean anything. 

The Republican Party may, at this point, be in its early-stage death throes. If the saner voices within the party can’t wrest control from the MAGA-maniacs in the next two years there may be no coming back for them. Too many elected Republicans have lost sight of their duty to their constituents and to their constitutional oath of office. They have become victims of the Republican party’s panicked descent into despotism, remaining silent in the face of voter suppression, gerrymandering, and ongoing efforts to turn Americans against one another in the name of winning the next election.

There’s only a limited amount of time for them to regrow a backbone.

Both political parties have much to answer for. Neither seems to really want to solve the problems associated with immigration because the fight keeps their bases fired up and like the Republicans, the Democrats have become blindly focused on winning at all costs and keeping the money machines that feed their coffers cranking. To hell with the best interests of the American people. To hell with healing the wounds of our divisions, to hell with finding common ground.  Winning at all costs is the only thing that matters, no matter what price the American people pay for their malfeasance.  

The existing political parties and their leaders exhibit a profound lack of immagination when it comes to addressing the existing and future challenges we face. 

The two-party system, created out of whole cloth and without any constitutional franchise to even exist, has cost us plenty and failed us . . . miserably.

One only needs to look at the phenomenal growth of the Forward Party since it was announced less than two years ago. Already the third largest political party in the country and with an agenda that is looking to the future, unafraid to propose bold ideas and determined to repair the fabric of our society. 

Any elected member of the Republican and Democratic parties that is the least bit self-reflective has to be scared witless by this. . . Good. 

We must rebuild social capital in a way that reconnects the threads of the American tapestry. We’ve done it before and it works. Social Security and Medicare are the most enduring and fiercely guarded aspects of the American social contract, precisely because they do not differentiate between Americans of different races, religions, or backgrounds. 

It’s time for us to build a multi-party system where coalitions of interest overcome the blind fealty of our existing system.

About Wayne D. King: Author, podcaster, artist, activist, social entrepreneur and recovering politician. A three-term State Senator, 1994 Democratic nominee for Governor. His art ( is exhibited nationally in galleries and he has published four books of his images, most recently, “New Hampshire – a Love Story”. His novel “Sacred Trust” a vicarious, high voltage adventure to stop a private powerline as well as the photographic books are available at most local bookstores or on Amazon. He lives on the “Narrows” in Bath, NH at the confluence of the Connecticut and Ammonoosuc Rivers and proudly flies the American, Iroquois and Abenaki Flags. His website is:

Wayne D. King

64 Monroe Rd., Bath, NH 03740

603-530-4460 Cell

The opinions in columns and op-eds belong solely to the author.

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