The front door of the Little White Schoolhouse stands ready to usher in a new political movement.
The front door of the Little White Schoolhouse stands ready to usher in a new political movement.

     As America turns 243 next week, we should throw it a party.

     A new party.

     A People’s Party.

     A party filled with folks so disgusted by politics as usual they have forsaken Democrats and Republicans for the corrupt, self-serving, ideologically bankrupt cliques they have become.

     One only had to watch the Democrat debates last week to realize that the party’s would-be standard bearers possess hearts more fulsome than their heads.  

     Some presidential hopefuls want to eliminate private health insurance (switch employers’ share of the insurance burden to 180 million employees and all other taxpayers); finance tuition to community college if not to all public universities (goodbye, Ripon College!); decriminalize illegal immigration and offer health insurance to all (open the floodgates); raise personal tax rates to confiscatory levels (off-shore tax shelters, anyone?); and end the one bipartisan hammer the U.S. Senate still employs: the legislative filibuster.

     Democrats realize that fiscal conservatism is an electoral downer, so they blithely commit generational larceny, robbing future generations tomorrow so they can be electoral winners today.

     Because they ... care.   

     Last week’s debaters pandered to the left, a great primary strategy for the coasts but a loser when it comes to the common-sense heartland in a country so divided its new motto should be “unum ex duobus” (from one, two).

     Which brings us to the Republicans, whose tribalistic relativism has blown up President Reagan’s big tent.

     Look at the tent off Blackburn Street. A coalition of Whigs, Free Soilers and Democrats gathered in Ripon’s Little White Schoolhouse 165 years ago to oppose the spread of institutional racism.

     From that noble meeting has come a party recently perverted by, and complicit   with, an egotistical swamp creature who favors unelected fascists over democratic allies, tariffs over free trade, Norway over “sh*thole countries,” persecution over partnerships, Constitutional obstruction over fidelity, women as chattel, and a federal debt he fancies as his personal piggybank  (“I gave you the greatest and biggest budget in our history,” he told the Pentagon last January).  

     It’s your birthday America. You deserve better than a dreamy donkey and unprincipled pachyderm serving as pathetic examples of organizational ineptitude.

     So go ahead. Unwrap your gift to yourself.

     A third way: A People’s Party based on adherence to the Constitution, honesty, accountability, common sense — remember that? —  and self-determination.    

     Last week the U.S. Supreme Court refused to crack down on partisan gerrymandering, arguing that federal courts cannot be expected to discern when a political map is rigged.  

     Power to the people, five justices seemed to say, while not denying that state parties — mostly Republicans — secretly are drawing legislative districts to cement their majorities.

     If gerrymandering of the sort that extends Ripon’s Rep. Glenn Grothman’s 6th district from Plainfield to River Hills, Wis. is to be seen for the sick sort of cynicism it represents, people — not judges — must organize to demand the equity proportional representation provides.

     That’s one small but significant example of why a People’s Party is essential. Here are a few more: dark money is destroying democracy, interest on the ballooning federal debt is crowding out discretionary spending, the defense department is rife with unholy contractor alliances, tariff-caused subsidies to farmers are socialism by another name, unaccountable White House puppets are skirting Senate confirmation, the president lies while his partisans look the other way.

     Our children are watching it all.

     America can either ride its populist wave into another four years of dangerously inept, immoral leadership, or surf with Democrats into a world America can neither afford nor sustain.  

     Or it can return to that noble one-room schoolhouse on Blackburn Street and organize anew with a party whose goal is not self-preservation but a more just, generous but sensible nation, backed by the full faith of an American people worthy of better angels than those now selling their souls to acquire power.                
                                   — Tim Lyke