Two, Four, Six, Eight, who do we appreciate?

The United States has had a "two party system" since the time of the Civil War. Though the platforms of the Republican and Democratic parties have shifted over those 150 years, that there is a significant, abiding, and persistent divide in the cultural fabric of America has not. The Civil War solidified that divide, and although we all live together in the same country and follow the same laws, we have become comfortable with the idea of "two Americas". In the U.S., we may not like our two party system too much, but we respect it. It has been around for a while, it has shown flexibility to adjust and rise to challenges, even though other times it has miserably failed us. Talk of overthrowing it comes around from time to time, but one thing it has going for it is stability. And the fact is, a stable government is a big plus. It makes people comfortable, makes them able to plan for their future with confidence.

So I sort of had to scratch my head when I first heard here in Iceland the use of the term the "four party" system. I suppose one could argue that political parties contribute to Icelander's identity and social networks in a way akin to the Republican and Democratic allegiances in the U.S., but really it seemed like a stretch. Afterall, as far as I understand it, one of the four parties (VG) was formed like 10 years ago or so, and Framsoknar seems to have completely different people in it than it used to.

But the idea seems to be catching momentum around here, that Iceland has a four party system as pervasive and corrupt as the American two party system. It is on the coat tails of this idea that a new party is about to breeze into political power in Reykjavík, despite the head of this party admitting to having no relevant education or experience, and no agenda or plan for the city. Because with one fell swoop, now anything any of the people from the previously existing parties say can be mockingly dismissed as "just part of the system."

So I am reminded of a cheerleading song we used to do in American highschool, "Two, four, six, eight, who do we appreciate?" And the answer is not, "the people who have dedicated their lives to public service."


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