It was the best of times. It was the worst of times. People were the richest they had ever been. People were as poor as they ever been. It was the most diverse of times. It was the most intolerant of worlds.
And I’m tired of my own cliche already, but it’s valid. It just is.
In The United States, we believe there are only two ways of thinking. Or, rather, we want to limit thought to only two ways. Anything outside of that is considered extreme. How the two parties have considered thought outside of the accepted party lines has been different.
Let me start with the Republican Party.
The Republican Party was challenged in the last decade by what was considered The Tea Party for a long time. Now it’s called the Freedom Caucus. Basically branching off of the Republican platform, The Tea Party decided to work from within the Republican Party. This is a departure from the Libertarian Party of years past. The Koch Brothers learned their lesson from a failed run at national office in 1980. Why work against the two party system when you can take over a portion of it?
The idea, at least from my perspective, is if The Tea Party was able to take over even 10% of the party, they would have influence. And here we are today, the Freedom Caucus can take the party from a majority in both the House and Senate to a minority quickly. That makes them extremely powerful for such a small percent of the party.
But the Republicans allowed this power grab by embracing the ideology as acceptable even though they enjoyed their neo-conservative grip on the party during the G.W. Bush years. They allowed it because they were willing to do anything to block Obama from accomplishing anything. They allowed it because they were willing to accept the extreme in order to get a majority.
And Obama was blocked from doing virtually anything. And then called the most divisive president in history. Repeatedly.
The Democrats have been met with challengers more than once as well. The Green Party sprouted as a challenge to the neo-liberal thought process that gripped the Democratic Party. Both Republican and Democrat challenges were presented after eight years of party control. The Green Party grew because those left of Bill Clinton felt that he did not do enough to advance the agenda of the people and didn’t resist war.
The Republicans were challenged after eight years of Bush and their disappointment of the endless wars and increasing debt.
The Democrats were once again challenged after eight years of Obama. This time the battle came from within the party. Much like the Freedom Caucus took power years ago. The Democrats handled much differently. Refusing to give up any power to the challengers who felt they were not doing enough, the neo-liberals and corporate Democrats fought back marginalizing Sanders and his supporters. I documented this often. Not understanding the success of the Republican Party before them, the Democrats shot themselves in the foot by telling populist voters to get on board or get left behind.
I’m not feeling like I’m saying anything I haven’t covered or you don’t already know. Background is important.
The Republicans, although divided, have at least been joined in bringing down anything to the left of them. It also helps that the far right has had regular access to media outlets pushing an agenda through radio, television, and internet. Let’s face it, Limbaugh, Hannity, Glenn Beck, and now disgraced Bill O’Reilly all pushed a far right agenda which helped promote nationalism, lower taxes, war, denying climate change, and this idea that white people were losing rights somehow. They also controlled media outlets while attacking media outlets as left and liberal. Shrewd.
The Democrats were unwilling to join in this way, and as a result, moved further to the right by adopting many Republican policies as their own. The media outlets pushed the neo-liberal agenda as common sense and helped the results we have. Let’s face it, much of where we are is because the Democrats refused to hold their ground.
Today’s world finds the Democrats demonizing people who are both to the left and right of them as a result of the last election. They attack those who they marginalized last year for not simply getting in line and allowing their choice to win the election.
Now that I’ve said all that, let’s dismiss the idea that a two party system even makes sense. Let’s dismiss the idea of left and right. These are made up ideas to get you to take sides. These are made up labels.
Democracy should provide democratic choices. It shouldn’t be team spirit. The problem is that America doesn’t have a true ground up democracy which allows for people to truly be involved. Especially with the passing of Citizens United years ago. The agenda is dictated from the top and the people are then tasked with choosing sides.
Marches and rallies will not accomplish anything. The House and Senate only report to those who pay for them to have the jobs they have. And if anybody loses their job in Congress, they can turn that into a lucrative career as a lobbyist.
I know, I know, anybody can complain. Anybody can point out problems. Pointing out problems is not the point of this writing. In order to outline a solution, the problem must be clearly explained.
Here’s the problem:
We’ve been conditioned to think of the world as two opposing forces. A constant battle of us vs. them. You are either with us or against us. It makes it more fun, but it’s not a very good way to represent thought. Not by any stretch. And I can understand that maybe the point is so that dangerous policies and points of view don’t take over the system.
Somebody would be in a position to remind me that Hitler was elected. He was elected because people were desperate. If a good system is working, people are not desperate. They are not starving. They have jobs. People are not taking radical chances. But all people need to be represented. So forcing people to be starving without any opportunity to get out of poverty is a poor system.
People also have this innate desire to label one another. It’s a far easier task if there are only two possibilities. When we start looking at more than two sides, it’s way more difficult to demonize.
I think the system was probably reasonable- outside of slavery and women not being able to vote and only home owners could vote and on and on- back when it was written, but I think anything decent should evolve. Anything decent should be looked at. And remember that list above before telling me what the Founding Fathers intention was. I think we know.