Deep within the human psyche is the instinctive urge to associate with others like us. This has resulted in tribes, religions, nationalities, political parties and more. These associations are governed by institutions that have sets of rules and behaviors that determine their actions. As associations evolve, the institutions governing them become more fixed and rigid, making change in mature institutions difficult and slow.
Our political parties have reached this mature state and are having difficulty changing to meet the challenges of modern society. Political philosophies associated with the several parties have calcified and come under the influence of purists who demand adherence to ideology. The result is the political stalemate our nation and even South Carolina is experiencing.
While our political institutions are reaching fossilization, the rest of our world is changing at a fast pace. In just a few years, the internet has become our primary source of information and communication. We all have smart phones making information and ourselves immediately available. National boundaries are meaningless as far as economic activity is concerned.
How do we deal with quagmires such as Afghanistan, Syria or Ukraine? How do we compete economically with China, India and Brazil?
If our country is to maintain its prominence, we need some way to reach national consensus on issues important to our future. Our current political institutions are so bogged down that the possibility of reaching consensus seems remote. We may soon find ourselves a second-rate nation with far less influence on the world scene.
So what to do? One thing good Americans can do is look for alternatives. They are out there in the form of pragmatic political candidates not willing to be blindly dominated by ideology dating from the last century. They are in the form of alternative political parties that understand we cannot long continue as we are in political stalemate. The American Party started here in South Carolina by former Democratic superintendent of education Jim Rex and former Republican gubernatorial candidate Oscar Lovelace is a fine example of that alternative.
Our job as citizens is to find those alternatives and keep our country a prominent place of opportunity for all.