01 April 2014

As with any popular deal formulated in Washington, the singing that stems from both sides of the aisle urges politicians to rush to the table. Compromise is the key above all else, and the table is where real consensus-building can take place. In any negotiating scenario the situation practically describes itself. Two sides in opposition come together in harmony and hash out an agreement. But what happens when both sides already agree on the main points?

There have been spurious movements over the past several years in the U.S. to create viable third parties to disrupt a transparently broken political system. While Perot made the most headway, momentum has continued to grow against the stream of D.C. politics in small doses every election year. The problem, of course, is that before we begin to consult the possibility of a third party in this country a second party must arise.

It has become increasingly explicit that the Left has been without representation for quite some time. On just about every major issue that matters the Democrats will mold to fit a center-right caricature. Yet time and time again the conventional wisdom demands one party is at odds with the other, victims of hyper polarization. The truth of the matter is one party governs in D.C. and has been doing so with the Democratic Party’s help for a long while.

This latest budget deal, the one trumpeted by those in charge of the consensus coalition, proves once more just how desperately this country needs a second political party. As the public at large is able to sigh with relief over the forestallment of another government shutdown, a few sectors are not so fortunate.

What about the 1.3 million Americans who are without jobs, cannot find work, and are now facing the loss of unemployment insurance? From their kitchen tables this deal, known as the Murray-Ryan budget, actually looks pretty grim. Here are people already down in a less than impressive economy. Suddenly they have been kicked, and kicked hard.

And what about the federal workers and those in the military who now stare at the prospect of contributing more to their pensions? In effect taking a pay cut, these people don’t see much to celebrate in the spirit of compromise. If this was not enough, not one detail in the budget sheds light on the fact that tax loopholes remain wide open and rates untouched.

This depiction sounds very similar to the futile conservative-driven attack on food stamps. But attacks on the less fortunate are expected from the Right. What is required in any two party system, however, is a voice for the Left. Where was the Left during this latest budget deal, then? Unfortunately, the Left was nowhere to be seen during negotiations. Rest assured plenty of Democratic representatives were present and ready to make concessions at a moment’s notice.