Re: “Mayor calls for compassion, derides social media,” May 24.

Of all the third rails in American politics and society, there is one to which all others pale and that this country is far past-due on embracing: replacing our divisive, adversarial, impotent and obsolete “two parties.”

There have always been loudmouths, zealots, extremists, bigots, ideologues and dividers in our politics and society. Social media (along with things like partisan press and big money in politics) is often dangerous, but it doesn’t cause partisanship and division. Instead, it’s just one of many tools that play to one common denominator for their true impact: the power held by our elected and civic “leaders.” To those who use these tools for bad, divided “leaders” are their foot in the door to what they hope to achieve. It just so happens that the vast majority of our political and civic “leaders” are affiliated with one or the other of our “two parties.”

The most consequential change in American politics and society over the past 50 years is the divisive adversarialism of those “two parties.” These two organizations gamed the playing field to transform into a two-fisted political monopoly, and then convinced Americans that the “two-party system” must mean these two parties. Alternatives are laughed off, even by independents.

But now, sharing power, maintaining the racket, and running even nominally collaborative and functional governments is no longer enough. The “two parties” have allowed their most extreme, vocal and active elements to turn them into ideological, agenda-driven machines where next to nothing positive and sustainable gets done unless one side has enough dominance over the other to make it so. This not only doesn’t represent the civil and collaborative nature of the majority of Americans, it actively pulls Americans apart by making them pick a side and act accordingly.

There is no such thing as “non-partisan” local races just because candidates can’t claim a party affiliation. The “two party” politicians and partisans are keeping score, “fighting” for what they want, and acting accordingly.

Without serious change, it can only get worse from here. So let’s dump the “two parties” and work on organizations (and even parties) that can set aside the ideologies and agendas, that actually know how to collaborate and that earn and deserve to represent and govern, and see where we come out on the other end!

Cameron D. Gerber, Redlands