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Do We Need More Political Parties?

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Published on Feb 17, 2014

WASHINGTON DC | Possible presidential candidate Rand Paul can't seem to stay out of the news lately. The Kentucky senator's latest issue is that he sees a gloomy future for the Republican Party. In a recent interview with neo-conservative radio host Glen Beck, Paul went so far as to say that the Republican Party may never again win a presidential election if it doesn't broaden its appeal.

That curious statement comes when many of the Republican Party's most conservative critics have been saying for years that the GOP's "big tent" is already too big.

These critics have pointed to the gay GOP faction known as Log Cabin Republicans and other realities to underscore their belief that the Republican Party already tolerates so much variety that clearly defining the GOP's mission is nearly impossible.

However, Paul has a different take on the matter. As we reported in today's newscast, Paul believes NSA surveillance abuse can help the GOP reach out to young voters who might otherwise side with Democrats. But even so, there is a split in the GOP on that issue, as some Republicans are fine with increased NSA spying in the war on terror.

But looking at the big picture, could it be that America needs more viable political parties? Wouldn't that be better than stretching the mission of existing parties to the point where their identities collapse?

Switzerland, for example, has at least 12 fully viable political parties. Four or five of those parties are represented in the Federal Council. That executive body has seven members from which a president is annually chosen by the parliament to serve a one-year term. There is no presidential cult of personality and the people settle in whatever party best suits their beliefs.

On the other hand, on President's Day today, let's recall the George Washington preferred there'd be no political parties. He felt that voting on principle, on a constitutional basis, was the ideal for America to pursue. But due in part to human nature, political parties took root and have become a force unto themselves. The way money is allowed to oil the political machine is another major reason parties have prevailed over principle.

In the fall of 2012, the new group Free and Equal Elections organized the first-ever nationally televised debate featuring optional presidential candidates from the Green Party, the Constitution Party and other parties. National TV personality Larry King hosted the debate in Chicago.

The debate indicates that a desire exists to break the two-party duopoly. Refocusing the Republican Party's mission to attract more young people may sound like a worthwhile goal. But perhaps it's time to exit the two-party box and get more enticing options on the ballot for the voting public.

To keep choosing between Democrats and Republicans may keep the nation captive to entrenched party interests that don't want real changes for the better.

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