American politics has certainly sunk to a new low, at least in comparison to recent pre-Trumpian history. Past attempts at democracy never appeared so craven in pursuing partisan victory by any means. We were willing to take some prisoners and tolerate some dissent within the ranks. Now, both major parties seem to have abandoned their respective moral compasses. Forget ethics. Anything goes.

Some might argue that it’s always been that way. Nothing new. Maybe so, yet that reality never presented itself so blatantly, so coldly “It is what it is.”

The electorate’s current bar for the highest office in the land is sadly set at merely being the less offensive offering “Any Functioning Adult,” whose governance will do the least damage rather than the most good. Voting is no longer a matter of endorsement but rather resignation, an acceptance that real leadership must be deferred, that we must acquiesce to the more and more disappointing limitations of what is now most clearly a bankrupted two-party system further and further indebted to “corporatist” control.

Neither party will even acknowledge that word. Corporatism can’t be openly named without criticism of political speech gone far too far to the left. Such language, if allowed utterance, might undermine the Swamp’s broad bi-partisan fealty to Wall Street. Meanwhile, “socialism” by any other name is fine if bailing out capitalism’s cyclical failures. Red or Blue, establishment economics opposes any actual attempt at providing fundamental equity for everyone. Get real. Wake up. Capitalism simply doesn’t work that way. Too bad if a growing number of Americans wish otherwise.

Given that third-party politics have never gained any real traction, Republican and Democrat hierarchies are now threatened from without and within as their traditionally centrist bases attempt to hold on to power against an increasing populist demand for ideological change. Though polar opposites, Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders are emblematic of this grassroots rebellion to governance as usual. The future of both parties will depend on whether the RNC and the DNC dare to assimilate those challenges or risk rejection.

The last time around, the DNC rigged the primary contest against Sanders. Clinton was crowned despite Sanders’ popular majority and Trump ultimately rode his side’s populist dark horse to victory. Four years later, the DNC has again plotted against the progressive side of its ticket. Bernie’s still persona non grata. Joe Biden and Kamala Harris, complete non-starters compared to Sanders’ and Warren’s progressive anti-corporatist groundswell, nevertheless find themselves their party’s anointed rerun of entitlement leadership. That this is what the DNC thinks democracy should look like is scant solace, and even less encouragement, to those dissatisfied with defending the status quo.

Sure, Biden isn’t what anyone really wants. The important thing is that he isn’t Trump. Oh yea, that somehow didn’t work with Hillary, but Biden isn’t nearly as personally offensive. Then again, imagine how frightening the prospect of a Biden White House must still be to those still willing to reelect Trump, someone even more demonstrably narcissistic, self-aggrandizing, truth-challenged and #MeToo-tainted.

Here in Maine, the long arm of the DNC has chosen Sara Gideon to beat Susan Collins in a race too crucial to allow Mainers an unfettered democratic process. Outside big money influence is suddenly totally correct. Susan might be bought, but have no worries about Sara. No slippery slope here. The important thing is that Gideon prevailed over her more progressive primary opponents. Betsy Sweet and Bre Kidman were at least allowed a cursory debate opportunity.

Fortunately, there’s still another progressive candidate running independently and offering rank choice proponents some hope of expanding democratic freedom. In a truly teachable moment, Bre Kidman has now endorsed Independent Lisa Savage as an alternative to continued establishment dominion.

Choosing Lisa Savage as one’s first choice would send a message that individual voter participation can’t be completely hijacked by a two-party belief in control rather than leadership. With ranked voting there will be no “spoiler effect.” The only possible danger would be that a progressive Independent might miraculously walk away with a majority on the first ballot. Seems like a win-win situation for those seeking a truly independent senator from Maine. Someone more idealistically akin to that actually Independent guy from Vermont.

Gary Anderson lives in Bath.

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