FDFR

The U.S. Political System is Broken.

But it's not irreparable.  We must break free of the binary choice - the requirement to vote only for a Democrat or a Republican.  This is the true source of all our frustrations with government and politics.

The sky hasn't fallen on America...yet...but it's clear that a tipping point approaches.  Our divided nation will at some point soon face a truly critical issue that cannot be solved by the Democratic Party or the Republican Party.

You likely have a strong aversion or even hatred for one side or the other.  Who doesn't?  But the problem is that both organizations are equally culpable for creating the crisis of trust in America today.  Progress is impossible on gun violence or immigration or crime because giving an inch is considered weakness.  The common ground exists, but Democrats and Republicans can't step foot on it.  They'd rather spite the whole country just to keep their tenuous grip on power.  So all we get are fingers pointed and positions taken for the sake of distinguishing one party from the other and invigorating angry bases of supporters.  We need incremental change - small compromises that lead to another step and another and another.  Nothing will be fixed overnight, but we can get there by focusing on action - not getting overwhelmed by big philosophical debates.

Americans deserve choice when we vote.  America is anomalous in today's geopolitical climate with this binary option between D's and R's.  Every other major country in the world has a variety of viable political parties that allow greater representation of the people.  Did you see the news about the new President of Mexico?  He founded his party in 2014.  If they can do it, so can we.  

Regardless of your support for "my party," deep down you know that it is overextended by too many conflicting agendas and is just as guilty as the other for creating this mess.  But you also have a fear - a very legitimate one - that supporting a third party is only going to provide an opportunity for "the other side" to win elections.  Having a third party doesn't mean we need a fourth party simultaneously.  Eventually we want lots of parties with the ability to come to participate, but we can start small, with one breakaway party for now.

Let's abandon both parties in equal measure.  With choice comes coalitions and compromises.  Both parties smirk and say that alternative parties will never happen.  But with all the innovation we've seen in the last 15-20 years with smartphones, streaming music and TV, self-driving cars and all that other amazing technology out of Silicon Valley, it is possible to achieve freedom from the binary choice.  

Join the FDFR Movement.  If you haven't noticed by now, it stands for F--k Democrats, F--k Republicans.  And if you think a four letter word is more profane than the lies, deliberate inaction and gross misconduct by our out-of-touch millionaire representatives in Washington, DC...you probably haven't noticed that both parties care more about their own power and wealth than the American people.

Learn more below about our platform and then challenge us on it.  Let's make a third party into a reality.

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Position Statements

No human being fits perfectly into one of two boxes.  You cannot find a Democrat without a conservative leaning on some issue and you cannot find a Republican without a liberal view about something.  You have to be pretty dense to line up with one party on 100% of the issues, but lots of "partyists" blindly follow whatever their party says.  The key to bridging the divide is to focus on incremental change.  Both parties would rather do nothing and maintain a stalemate than make incremental change - they fear that the other side will gain ground in the perception war and claim victory in the media.  This idiocy has to stop, so we can start on key issues of health care, infrastructure, education, gun violence, etc.

ELECTORAL REFORM

A third party and a fourth party and a fifth party...they'll happen with or without electoral reform because the demand from the people is so strong.  But we can expedite the process of bringing America's electoral system into the 21st century.  A few key points:

1.  Forget about the Electoral College.  There are some very important reasons for it to stay in place.  It's easy to attack the legitimacy of the institution, but the bicameral Congress is setup this way too.  Balancing the power of population with the power of states was and is a necessary part of what keeps the Union together.

2.  Forget about a national voting day.  When all the offices and banks are closed, people flock to restaurants, fast food, events, movie theaters, malls, grocery stores, and other places that tend to employ people with less education, less money and less ability to get time off to vote.  This type of national holiday would actually add to the disenfranchisement of the working class in America.  But, we could mandate employers offer a paid two-hour break for employees to vote, just to make sure they have time outside coffee breaks and before/after shifts.

3.  Compulsory voting is a possibility, but also not a first option.  Several major countries require all eligible citizens to vote.  And in its current state, the government and its red tape bureaucracy mean that any new program is going to be impossible to implement.  But we're Americans.  It's our responsibility to vote.  If everyone votes, politicians don't have to pander to their extremes.  Tens of millions of Americans didn't vote in 2016 and now they're unhappy.  The same phenomena is occurring in Britain with post-Brexit vote remorse by non-voters.  Democrats and Republicans exploit this specific element of the system and we need to take it away from them by bringing people back to the polls with an incentive on annual tax returns with the IRS.  Show your voter card with the "I voted" sticker and you get a small tax credit.  It's a work in progress.

4.  Proportional Representation and Single Transferrable Vote (also known as PR and STV)...learn 'em, love 'em, advocate for 'em.  This type of electoral system has lots of variations, but here it is in the simplest form:  a candidate's party gets seats in Congress based on the percentage of the vote won.  But it also is still party-dependent and doesn't allow you to vote for who you want.  When you hear politicians attack this type of proposal with these types of arguments, understand that they're just trying to save their power under the current voting system.  What we need in America, specifically for Congress alone, is something called the single transferrable vote method of proportional representation.  There are some additional details worth learning about, but the fundamental difference here is that you get to rank candidates.  You don't have to pick the lesser of two evils.  If you're desperately worried that the "left" or the "right" is going to take power because third parties split the vote (which hasn't really been the case if you study Ross Perot, Ralph Nader and Jill Stein), you get an extra layer of security by allowing you to still vote for a major candidate if your favorite candidate didn't get enough first place votes.  There's much more to know, but this is the one specific project to focus on if you really want to change the electoral system.  

Read up on PR and STV.  Then demand action.

 
 
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GUN VIOLENCE

Without being too reductive, anti-gun activists show such disdain for the Second Amendment and call for so many restrictions on gun ownership that it frightens the “right” into buying more guns and growing firmer in the belief that the “left” is coming for their guns.  Polls after Parkland show that everyone, truly both sides, support stronger background checks.  Yes, Republicans overwhelmingly support it too.  But giving an inch could be considered a slippery slope.  So we have had zero progress in the last few months on background checks.  What we hope to do with the FDFR Movement is to scale back demands and find actionable solutions that may not be “sexy” or “game-changing” but help lead towards some form of progress.  So let's look at the innovation in Silicon Valley right now…it’s amazing to behold the tech that enables us to do things we never thought imaginable just a few years ago.  Elon Musk got tons of publicity for the mini-sub he built for the Thai soccer team trapped in the cave.  In a matter of days, he ostensibly had a solution.  We believe that it’s possible and realistic to make another breakthrough in short order - a background check database that’s accurate, secure and accessible to authorized organizations across the nation.  It’s certainly not as simple as creating an Excel grid, but this isn’t a billion dollar issue.  Why are we not leveraging the private sector to help us cut through red tape and make these things happen?

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SOCIAL JUSTICE

Black Lives Matter and Occupy Wall Street roared into the public consciousness, then drifted into the background with no substantive impact in legislation, regulation and policy.  There were big protests, tons of people gathering, meetups of like-minded individuals, amazing visuals on TV, and celebrities spreading the word.  But nothing got done.  Because once again, both sides demanded too much.  The left wouldn’t settle for small wins and focused on taking back what the “one percent” have taken away.  And the right clung to the nebulous law and order argument and pointed to the rare cases of violent protestors.  So let’s get real specific here and look at bail reform and mandatory minimums.  They’re not as “sexy” as those grand ideas for bringing justice back to America, but there are some obvious issues that can change.  Why do we have insanely high monetary requirements that keep poor Americans - and predominantly minorities - from gaining freedom before trial?  Why do we punish non-violent drug crimes so disproportionately compared to those who commit physical violence?  Our prisons are overflowing with prisoners, with as much as 1% of the nation's African-American community incarcerated.  Convicted criminals deserve to be punished for making poor decisions and failing to follow the rules of society, but taxpayers are footing huge bills to pay for long-term incarceration, which also keeps the kids of those prisoners in a never-ending loop with no parental figures, no role models, no financial security, and greater incentive to break the law just to survive.  We also need to learn to forgive and offer a hand of support to those who are not severe threats to the public if they were to be released.  Again, like the background check project, it's very doable to move non-violent offenders into house arrest or work release programs.  Maybe be can reduce recidivism and the likelihood of individuals and their families being forever forced into lives of desperation.  It'll help minorities regain opportunities, reduce wasted tax money and enable new American workers to contribute to the economy and society.  That'll give both sides something to be happy about.

MENTAL HEALTH

Tens of millions of good people are suffering in this country because mental health is a taboo subject.  Seemingly every week, a celebrity opens up about their struggle with serious mental health issues.  Dwayne Johnson.  Bruce Springsteen.  Michael Phelps.  They reached the pinnacle of their professions while fighting every day with incredible pain.  There are so many Americans in this situation who struggle but manage to maintain relatively successful and normal lives.  If you've been to Seattle (or San Francisco, the new epicenter of American greed), you've also seen the people who aren't so fortunate and fell victim to the plague of homelessness that's creating divisions in the community.  This nation once had a robust system for mental health, but it was all torn down in the 1980s and there is no longer easy access to care for everyone.  In its place, we have normalized the practice of making people feel like they're less because they take medication or speak with therapists.  

We need to be honest with ourselves.  We're all addicted to our iPhones and Facebook - rudely ignoring others in public settings and generally staying isolated from people we don't know.  We're angry about society and stew when we stare for hours at the news and tenor of the debate in Washington.  It's not healthy.  We all need more help in this area and can't stigmatize those who choose to seek medical help.  We need to drastically shift financial resources at the federal and state levels before it's too late.  That money has to come from somewhere, but we'll surely find a way to get it funded.  The youngest generation is losing key social and emotional skills in this digital-first world.  It's only going to get worse unless we tackle this subject without judgment.

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FOREIGN POLICY

In spite of common misconceptions on how the Legislative and Executive Branches operate and manage certain aspects of government, it's important to remember that foreign policy is the one area where Congress has the smallest role.  Confirmation hearings and budget approvals for military operations are one thing.  But it's the President who really runs the show.  Regardless of the guy in office now vs. the guy in office before, the role of a U.S. Senator is to stay vigilant and informed on developments in the intelligence and diplomatic communities.  We have a lot of "hot spots" - Russia, China, North Korea, Israel, Palestine, Syria, Mexico.  

Russia is ostensibly the most clear and present threat, and we need to treat them that way.  Open relations = a good thing.  We should be talking with them, but we need to be more forceful and decisive.  Meddling in the election is a fact.  There's really no arguing about that.  But whether it tipped the scales is unknown.  Let's not forget that huge numbers of Americans didn't vote (side note from Brad: my 2016 absentee ballot didn't arrive in time and even though it didn't matter in the larger scheme of California's electoral votes, it still is painful to have effectively abstained).  And that the two candidates had historic unfavorable ratings with voters.  Historically high.  On both sides.  One may have been more reviled than the other, but both were reviled.  

Nonetheless, the strategy in place for Russia didn't work in the last Administration and it isn't working in this Administration.

But it's not all about Russia.  China is where a huge amount of resources must go - it's a rapidly evolving country that we really don't understand at all.  Although there is some military tension with China, our relationship is more about rivalry in business.  A tariff war won't cut it.  With China still having enormous pockets of poverty and considerable corruption (it makes our swamp look clean by comparison), there is opportunity to turn the rivalry into something more.  Russia has designs on our country for the sake of power and China has designs on our role as the biggest trade partner in the world.  We can work with the latter.  It's not easy.  But with the EU/NATO standing up against Russia from the West, and China doing the same from the East, maybe we can find a chance at deescalating tensions indirectly.  China hasn't begun to truly open up and that comes with both opportunities and threats.  More attention is needed.

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JOBS & THE ECONOMY

It's long been a truism in politics to say "it's the economy, stupid" when asked what people care most about.  Washington state has undergone explosive growth in the last few years - infrastructure and housing haven't kept up and it's fair when someone calls it a crisis.  And across America, people are rightfully concerned about companies taking jobs overseas.  A big factor:  our taxes and restrictions on businesses create an unfriendly atmosphere for companies who see extremely big financial gains in leaving the USA.  The motivating factors are compelling enough that it's hard for anyone or any company to turn down.  We need to do a few things to enhance wealth for all Americans.

-Privatization and Contracting Reform:  This can be a dirty word but only if considered in the context of utilities and mission-critical functions.  We need to change the ridiculous federal process and make the bidding more public, which hopefully will encourage companies like Amazon to chip in $50 million to create that background check database, for example.  The red tape in government has become too much and we need to streamline so things can get done.

-Infrastructure Work Projects:  In combination with the efforts to fix our prison and criminal punishment system, we will have a huge influx of able-bodied individuals who need and want a job.  What's better than creating a national project - in the vein of FDR's alphabet soup of programs after the Great Depression - that empowers these individuals to regain their productive standing in society while doing work that has a direct impact in their communities?

-Job Training and Social Support:  It sounds boring, but the gap between available jobs and people without jobs is where we need to start.  There are a record number of open jobs - more than five million - but we don't have people able to fit the job requirements.  Training is a key part, and that starts with subsidizing programs at technical schools, both for workers in the job market and seniors in high school who can get the jump on a work opportunity if college isn't right or possible for them.  But that also means offering more than skills training.  The people who desperately need work aren't just unqualified, they have issues with family obligations, the ability to drive/travel to work, a lack of local jobs, and childcare needs.  They can't work even if they had a job offered to them.  If we can get these Americans in a position to go get work, they will get it done.  So let's focus on the incremental change, programs to support job readiness - then we can move onto training.

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MILITARY & VETERANS

It's a common refrain on the left that we spend too much on the military and we don't need it.  It's a common refrain on the right that our military deserves unequivocal adulation.

Both are extremist and misguided platforms that are designed solely to ignite their respective bases and whip them into a frenzy about how the other side hates America.  In case you haven't noticed how FDFR works, it's all about calling both sides out for their b.s. and charting a path forward.

The argument that we spend too much on our military is based on the stat that approximately 50 percent of federal discretionary spending goes to the military.  But this misleading stat fails to acknowledge the reality that only about 16 percent of the overall federal budget goes to the military, and it only accounts for 3-4 percent of GDP.  And in case you don't know, Russia significantly outspends the U.S. when evaluating what percentage of the GDP goes to the military.  

The truth is simple: we don't spend that much when put in the proper context.  And if you think about this topic in the context of your own personal budget for your family, it's very reasonable.  Look at your budget line items for health insurance, life insurance, car insurance, alarm system, security services, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, locks on the doors, overhead flood lights, flashlights, medical kits, fences, and yes, maybe even a firearm.  Even if you can't or don't spend on all of these things - and we're not going to get into the Second Amendment debate in this specific issue - you spend a lot of money every year to ensure the continued safety of your home and your family within.  It's the norm to spend a good 10-20 percent of your expenses on this.  We can agree that the costs are more expensive than they should be, particularly on health care, but for our homes and our country, it's a pretty reasonable.

The argument about patriotism, standing for the anthem and respecting the troops is also overblown.  It's patriotic to question our government and demand change through the electoral system.  Protests are ok and if you don't like it, just ignore it.  But it's also ridiculous to call out people for hating America.  They may not wear the love on their sleeves, and they may not feel the need to show the love as publicly, but protesters shouldn't be shouted down.

But perhaps more importantly, both sides must agree that our country is doing a major injustice to our troops and veterans.  The issues in getting appropriate care at VA hospitals - that's one of the saddest failures of modern government.  American servicemembers deserve far better.  Many, if not most, come from lower socioeconomic backgrounds.  Joining the military is a bold choice - a difficult burden taken as a means of lifting up themselves and their families.  

So the truth is, we need to increase military spending - but specifically targeted to helping the brave men and women who put their lives in danger so we can sit on our iPhones, watch Netflix and go to the movies every weekend.  We owe a debt and if this targeted expenditure increases federal spending, so be it.

MARIJUANA LEGALIZATION

Marijuana can be dangerous.  But like alcohol, cigarettes, tobacco, caffeine and other things, we should tax it properly, put that money to good use on critical projects like infrastructure and education, and have harsh penalties for those who abuse the drug or abuse the system.  The money that’s come in so far has been insignificant, despite all projections saying that marijuana would be an absolutely huge cash producer for state taxes.  The patchwork legislation around the nation and the federal vs. states conflict are a double whammy - holding us back from properly collecting needed tax revenue and wasting billions of taxpayer dollars on federal efforts to fight state laws.  Prohibition didn’t work at all and this half-compromise is failing too.  The lack of consistency in laws around the nation means that it’s very easy to subvert the rules set in Washington or California or anywhere.  

Consequently, we traded back alley drug dealers for a slightly higher class of criminal.  They’re not violent and they have storefronts, but the system for getting dispensary licenses and approved products is broken and discriminatory.  Until the federal government stops putting pressure on banks - which comes with removing marijuana from the Schedule I drug list - the whole industry will continue to do as it pleases in the name of “consumer choice.”  We need a federal fix so that the law-abiding entrepreneurs are rewarded and those with deep pockets stop taking advantage of the federal/state confusion.  Once that happens, WA has leverage to really push the marijuana industry to comply with safety rules, competition rules, and pay up properly.

Perhaps the greater tragedy is how marijuana has become another way to divide us by race.  If you get caught with marijuana in one of the prohibition states and you’re black, you’re four times more likely to go to prison than if you’re white.  A story recently in the New York Daily News pointed out that 9 out of 10 people arrested this year for marijuana in NY are black or Hispanic.  And the system for giving out dispensary licenses favors white entrepreneurs.  For those people who were incarcerated for non-violent marijuana crimes, their cases need to be reviewed and mitigated.  We can’t say they should all be given parole since there may be extenuating circumstances.  But let’s empty our prisons of people - again, they're predominantly black - who aren’t threats to society.  Stop the cycle that destroys minority communities and stop funding rich private prison management companies.  Stop this costly, ineffective, foolhardy war on substances that don’t fit with so-called family-first politicians

Marijuana isn’t for everyone, but the prohibition must end and we must remove it from the list of Schedule I drugs at the federal level.

POLITICAL CULTURE OF CRITICISM

You should get the idea by now that the leveling of attacks against this nebulous 50% of people across the aisle is our primary focus when it comes to changing the culture of American politics.  But we're equally dismayed by the personal nature of the attacks.  We all have made comments and done things in life that we look back on with regret.  Everyone has sent an email, text, tweet, DM, telegram, smoke signal or other form of communication that was ill-informed and driven by deep emotions instead of logic.  These days, we're seeing more personal shots being taken, with every minute detail put under the microscope so we can find any conceivable reason to knock them down a few pegs.  We need to quit that.  No one is perfect.  If someone has a view or belief that truly offends you, it's ok to block them.  

Everyone has a right to speak, but not a right to be heard.

But the scrutiny has reached an insane level.  Vetting SCOTUS nominees and Congressional candidates has come to include such minutiae that not even your greatest hero could pass.  Name a great person in history and there's a very deep flaw.  Thomas Jefferson...Martin Luther King, Jr...JFK...Abraham Lincoln...Michael Jordan...you'll find at least one thing about everyone who has achieved greatness that can and should rub you the wrong way.  This purity test - you have to be perfectly aligned on every issue and have earned straight A's in school - is impossible.  Making mistakes is how we learn what's right.  Falling down is how we learn to get back up and do better.

And with technology making it easier than ever to forge documents, create videos, make online bots, and whatever else people want to do to support their cult...err, party...it's hard to trust anything anymore.  Few allegations and accusations can be substantiated anymore, which is pretty sad for the brave people who come forward to report real injustices, crimes and unforgivable acts.

That's not to say that we shouldn't take a very close look at the people who hold the highest positions in government, but let's measure people in their entirety.  The standard of seeing/finding/hearing/discovering a bad joke, bad hot take or bad overgeneralization, and then going berserk on social media isn't a viable solution for government, democracy or maintaining one's sanity (side note from Brad: I'm definitely not immune and have made careless comments more times than I can count).  Let's remember to stay on the issue, focus on the details relevant to the issue, and show that anger only when it's clear that someone has no clue what they're talking about, is ridiculously biased, or has an obvious conflict of interest.  Breathe.  Relax.  Look ahead, not back.

There are only two choices to make when it comes to the silly mess that we call the United States government:

   1) stay on the sidelines and melt down on Facebook about the 50% of the nation you hate; or

   2) get in the game, vote for someone and work on incremental changes that lead to solutions.

Will you be the next to run for office as part of our movement?

Send a note to the team or signup for updates and volunteer opportunities using the form below.  And don't forget to follow The FDFR Party on Twitter.

Thanks for staying engaged and active in elections - the dark winds of current politics won't last forever.

 
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