The idea of change in politics has been front and center for millennia. In the U.S. in 2016, the insurgency campaigns of Bernie Saunders and Donald Trump fascinated political pundits on the right and the left. The chants of “Drain the Swamp!” and “No more politics as usual!” resonated with a large percentage of the voting population.
Unfortunately, the change wrought by the current president does not bode well for the future of democracy in America. The swamp is still the swamp, with the only change being worse swamp creatures in the morass.
Real change is necessary in American politics, and there is still a hue and cry for it.
The Democrats will have a huge opportunity to capitalize on this state of events in two years when they nominate a candidate for the presidency. How they do this, and how they make good on their promises, will be the key.
A unique idea would be one that hasn’t been tried in U.S. national politics in two centuries, but one that should be considered: A national ticket with a Democrat and a Republican.
This would be a massive statement to the ruling elites in the country that there would be no more business as usual. It would be a clear change from the way things have been done in the recent past by both major political parties, and would immediately make a change.
Also, it would be the closest thing America has to a national unity government. A Democrat president and a Republican vice president both being in cabinet meetings would mean that all of the voices would be heard. Each of them presiding over the executive branch and the Senate would send a message that getting work done for America is a national priority.
This would be a clear end to divisive politics and the start of work on compromise to get the important jobs of government done. Issues that divide the electorate would have to be worked out within the executive and legislative bodies. Both sides would be heard on every issue, and details could be worked out, that while not pleasing to everyone, would give each side something.
The hurdles to this are immense. The nomination process in the Democratic Party, as in the Republican Party, is tilted towards extremism. An interested voter is a likely voter. Folks that care about certain core issues to a party’s platform are far more likely to participate in a primary or caucus than a casual observer, of course. The backlash against a nominee who brings in a running mate from the opposition party will be strong. “He’s not one of us!” they will yell. “She doesn’t share our core belief,” they will say.
Of course, they will be right. That’s the point. If people in the country really want change, the change will come from people coming together who don’t share all of the same beliefs on the core issues, but by people and politicians who believe that we can overcome these issues to get work done for America. This will be real and substantive change.