Fools and Knaves: Let's party!

Our jester rethinks political labels.
Our jester rethinks political labels.

According to recent polls, voters are dissatisfied with both major political parties. Voter discontent is the natural corollary of Clifford's Law of American Politics, which states:

The Republican Party is the party of the rich. If you are rich, vote Republican, unless you are a rich trial lawyer. The Democratic Party is the party of trial lawyers and municipal unions. If you are a trial lawyer or belong to a municipal union, vote Democratic. If you are neither rich nor a trial lawyer nor a union member, you are going to get screwed. If you prefer being screwed by the rich, vote Republican. If you would rather be screwed by trial lawyers and municipal unions, vote Democratic.

Disappointed by both parties, voters are demanding changes. They want parties that are committed to their principles and not beholden to special interests.

To accomplish this, the existing parties must be realigned.

I propose the formation of two new parties – the Fools and the Knaves - to replace the Democratic and Republican parties.

Voters will then have a clear choice. Under realignment, every politician would have to state unequivocally whether he or she is a Fool or a Knave. Like many voters today, I am often confused.

I often conclude that council member X, or congressman Y, must be either a Fool or a Knave. But I am not sure which. With party realignment, I would definitely know.

Realignment is more than simply re-labeling. Republicans, who usually pursue knavish policies (let's enrich our class, and either neglect or bomb everyone else), would be the core of the Knaves. Democrats, preferring foolish policies (let's raise taxes and spend money on government programs that don't work) would constitute the majority of the Fools.

However, there will be a lot of switching. Sens. Larry Craig and David Vitter are Fools masquerading as Knaves. John Edwards, being a plaintiffs' lawyer, is a Knave by definition. Hillary is no Fool, but even her husband, a man seldom criticized for slavish adherence to the truth, could not deny her many Knavish characteristics.

It will be a difficult choice for some. Is George Bush more a Fool than a Knave? It's hard to tell. Remember, under realignment, he can no longer claim to be both.

Washington will become a one-party state. We are cursed with a plethora of earnest Fools. Our lack of Knaves is what makes local politics so boring.

Realigning the parties into Knaves and Fools will improve political advertising. We would stop being assaulted by negative TV ads featuring grainy photos of an opponent, while an announcer intones:

Jennifer Jones says she favors increased health for the elderly – but she voted against a bill to grant seniors eternal life. It's time to ask Jennifer Jones why she wants to murder your mother.

Instead, candidates could tersely state, "My opponent, Jennifer Jones, is a Knave. Vote for me. I'm a Fool."

We would also have less punditry. Who would watch Gridlock in Senate: Why The Fools and Knaves Can't Agree?

Unfortunately, every four years we could not escape a pundit-observing:

As the election approaches, polls indicate that after eight years of being governed by Knaves, the American electorate will vote in the Fools.

There is cyclicality to American politics. Eight years ago, voters were sick of Fools and couldn't wait to put the Knaves in charge. Now it appears to this observer that the electorate will embrace the Fools, not because they love Fools but because they are weary of Knaves.

So the Fools will be in charge, but four or eight years hence, voters will again tire of them and bring back the Knaves. Plus ca change, plus c'est la meme chose.


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