Federalists and Democratic/Republicans, Whigs and Democrats, Republicans and Democrats and then Democrats and Republicans; throughout our nation’s history, despite warnings from President Washington and other Founding Fathers, our politics have been governed by a two-party system. The platforms and intended constituencies of each party have varied as much as the parties themselves. As times change, so do our political parties. However, what was once a matter of left versus right has gradually evolved into a matter of quadrants, with each “wing” capable of the very same tyranny and/or anarchy as the other, depending on the views of the individual party member or faction. In fact, there are so many different viewpoints within each party that I have to wonder if another shift in party allegiances is immanent, or if we may indeed be witnessing the end of the two-party system altogether.
Certainly, we all see the continued radicalization of the current parties each pushing themselves further and further to the extremes of their respective wings and blindly towing the party line. Simultaneously, each party accuses the other side of doing the very same. Hypocrisy is rampant among both parties, and right now, Republicans are demanding that President Obama not nominate a new Supreme Court Justice, preferring the next president make the decision. Just eight years ago, during Bush’s time in office, they were chastising the Democrats for making the same plea and stating the president’s right and authority to make such a nomination. Even when someone on the Left calls out this hypocrisy, they seem to forget that the Democrats were making the very same claims that the Republicans are now. The blind faith-induced dysfunction continues, leading to gridlock in Washington and a hateful and divided American public.
If the gridlock of “the Party of No” and quests for Democratic super-majorities of the past weren’t enough to signal a need to end the current system, both parties seem to be tearing themselves apart from the inside. For years, the Republicans have been fighting an internal battle between the traditional Republican base and the Tea Party. Members of the traditional Republican base cater to the special interest and are experts at playing the political game. Tea Party members are actively trying to shake-up the party and change the way things are done in Washington by pushing for smaller government and tax reduction, among other things, which is much harder than any other time in recent history. Additionally, the growing vocalization of the Christian conservative faction seems to want to crush LGBTQ rights and move the US to an almost fundamentalist Christian state, while chastising the Muslim countries around the world for doing the same for their religions; and you can see how the Republican Party may well be poised to implode at any moment. Which is to say nothing of the dichotomy of balancing the desires of working-class conservatives and the one percent of Wall Street.
While the Republicans’ issues seem to get more attention from the media, because their situation is more important or there is in fact a liberal bias to most media outlets, the Democrats are not without their own problems. Currently, we are seeing a fight for the Democratic nomination between a 74-year-old democratic socialist who has, perhaps ironically, captivated the youth of the Democratic Party, and a former First Lady turned senator and diplomat. She may as well be just as much on the side of Wall Street as any Republican, perhaps also playing the “political game,” along with the Democratic base, just as is the Republican base. She certainly has her fair share of good old-fashioned political controversy and scandal to deal with.
There are those calling for a complete move toward socialized medicine and even a universal income, or at least a much higher minimum wage, while other factions seem to care only about abortion or LGBTQ rights. When Obama first took office, we saw a Democratic Party so scattered that a democratic president couldn’t even rein them in to enact any meaningful legislation, despite having a democratic majority in both houses of Congress.
The poorly handled election of 2000 and the Presidency of George W. Bush left the country so divided that we couldn’t embrace the meaningful change that President Obama had promised during his campaign. We seemed to hold our respective guns tighter, sometimes literally, and accused the other side of being evil instead of trying to come together and solve our collective problems.
Sadly, that trend continues today. We blame the Republican one percent of sending jobs overseas, holding wages down and cutting benefits to boost profits at the expense of their workers. All the while, the Democrats are pushing for free trade agreements, sometimes in virtual secrecy, which do nothing but entice businesses to send jobs overseas and make the American worker less and less able to compete against the low cost of outsourcing labor, hurting our economy and further dividing the public. Despite the ever-mounting evidence to the contrary, we continue to pretend that “our party” has our backs, while the other is made up of evil people who are fooling the populace to further their own agendas. In reality, the right and left wings, as they say, belong to the same bird.
Whether internal strife causes the collapse of the current parties or the ever-growing divide amongst us tears this nation apart, it seems that the end of the current two-party system is nigh, or at least perhaps should be. The question though is, even if we see such a collapse, can Americans truly come together under new banners, or dare I dream a single united banner, and usher in a time of peace and prosperity for our country? Or would the end of the “Two-Party Era” also signal the end of the United States as we know it? That, I suppose, is a decision that is ultimately up to US.
George Amaru can be contacted at email@example.com