Nov. 9. 2013 By Jack Jodell.
The United States is unique among nations in that, for nearly all of its history, political power has been divided among two major parties, the Democratic Party (NOT the “Democrat” Party, as many ignorant and spiteful far-rightists have scornfully come to call it), and the Republican Party. Originally, of course, it was either the Federalists or the Democratic-Republicans, or the Whigs, but eventually all of the major parties morphed into either the Democratic or Republican Party. Minor parties such as the Know-Nothings, the Libertarian, the Socialist, the Communist, the American Nazi, and the Green Party have met with brief, lukewarm publuc support. Few until the current billionaire-supported Tea Party have met with any sizable electoral success, and now even that miserable faction appears to be on the decline, thank God.
In most of the rest of the world, though, either one party rule or multiparty coalitions have dominated their politics. In some cases this has led to dictatorships, while in others, instability has resulted.
The longstanding two-party mode has served the U.S. fairly well, except in times of massive polarization such as we have bow, which has led to a paralvzation of government through obstruction efforts and an actual government shutdown. Party domination of the presidency and both hoises of Congress has continually shifted between the parties, with each of them exerting both positive as well as negative influences over our government, business, legal system, and even our culture and society as well when they have had political control.
With the exception of their early days, and again during the all-too-brief progressive era at the start of the 20th century, Republicans have generally favored conservative causes and have tried to preserve rather than change the status quo.They have traditionally never championed the labor movement, preferring instead to saddle up with banks, small and big businesses, and major industrialists of their day to stifle the rights and wage gains sought or obtained by American workers. They easily fit into the popular stereotype that they are the party of the rich. Their policies and behavior over most of the past 140-odd years certainly fits that stereotype. Lately, though, their conservatism has shifted ever-rightward, reaching the point today where they could more accurately be described as reactionary, The Tea Party infestation, which began in 2010 when nimerous billionaires flooded these candidates with money and technical advice in a blatant attempt to take over the Republican Party, has largely succeeded, but at an unforseen, horrible cost. It cast the party into a very backward-looking mindset; caused them to lose the majority of national elections held since then; and has turned entire large blocs of voters (Hispanics, African-Americans, and women, among others) against the Republican Party altogether. This will ensure far more electoral failures than successes for many years to come, unless and until this infestation of reactionaries is reversed.
Funny thing about the Republicans. Even though they really only represent the interests of a small slice of the populstion (wealthy individuals, businessmen, and corporations), they have cleverly hoodwinked and used various groups to gain and maintain power. Even though Jesus Christ repeatedly advised people to feed the poor and take care of the sick and downtrodden, Republicans have constantly used wedge issues to build a huge following of conservative evangelical Christians. By offering anti-gay and pro-family sentiments as bait, they have captured millions of votes from people who never stop to think that many pf their pro-rich, anti-worker policies contribute to breakups of poor families, something Jesus would never support. They likewise build a following among poor or lower working class workers by cleverly instilling a fear of minorities who may threaten their jobs, or by getting them to dislike both the poor and the taxes used to support the social safety net by intimating that these folks are lazy cheats who refuse to work and are availing themselves of government freebies. The Republicans are also adept at grabbing up popular war heroes or well-known entertainment figures to run for political office under their banner. Dwight Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan are perfect examples of this. Now why do the Republicans stoop this low? Because they know damn well if they ever honestly presented their agenda, only the wealthiest 1% of the population whom they service so well would vote for them!
The Democrats, on the other hand, used to be the party of the poor, the downtrodden, and the American worker. Not so much today, though – they have been corrupted since the glory days of the 1930s – the 1970s, when they achieved so much for the average citizen. The legalization of labor unions, unemployment compensation, Social Security, disability, paid vacations, the minimum wage, overtime pay, the War on Poverty, strong consumer-protection laws, and a host of other good, beneficial, and needed things –none of these would have been possible without strong Democratic majprities from a strong and progressive Democratic Party. But that was then, and this is now. Labor unions have been made impotent since Reagan destroyed many of them in the 1980s, and the ranks of the poor have grown noticeably since then as well, while the middle class is shrinking. Meanwhile, the rich have steadily gotten more fabulously wealthier thanks to the misguided efforts of both parties. Clinton’s “new Democrats” passed many deregulation bills which ended up aiding wealthy crooked bankers on Wall Street and laid the foundation for the disastrous Great Recession of 2008. They also stood quietly by as George W. Bush pushed for and got massive tax cuts for the rich, and very few opposed him as his Republican-led rubber stamp Congress of the early 2000s approved his criminal and insanely expensive war in Iraq. Barack Obama, to his credit, ended that war, but is still engaged in expensive actions in Afghanistan, while launching indiscriminate drone strikes and spying on peoples all across the globe, thanks to his failure to rein in the malignant and overly paranoid National Security Agency. Both Obama and Bush gave billions in federal aid to crooked Wall Street bankers, all the while ignoring the plight of everyday citizens, who were left bewildered, to try and pick up the pieces of their now-shattered careers and lives. It is clear the Democratic Party under Obama and Clinton before him bears little resemblance to its greater predecessor of years before, and that is extremely tragic.
We often hear both modern Democrats and modern Republicans alike proclaim what “the American people” really want and really need. The sad fact, however, is that neither party really has an understanding of what the average citizen truly wants or needs. Political leaders have become isolated from and clueless about their constituents. They have forgotten all about the average citizen in their zeal to deliver for the special interests which fund their election campaigns and bribe them. The average citizen justifiably feels betrayed and is growing more cynical all the time…
Until this country returns to a truly progressive path – one that is interested in passing legislation beneficial to everyone rather than just a favored few, “the American people” (the 99% MAJORITY of them, anyway) will be largely – sadly – A PEOPLE WITHOUT A PARTY!