Democrats or Republicans? The whole of American politics boils down to this question. While one can debate the relevance of politics and policy repeatedly question people about their positions on certain policies, but there will ultimately be only two people for whom they can vote. The question of party, unfortunately is as irrelevant as the third-party candidates that like to think they can win in elections for major political posts. The question becomes would you like this slightly different but altogether unchanged version of government or the other part of this binary system of government?
No matter how much you seem to think it relevant, the two parties are horrendously out of touch with the populations they govern. Although the parties proclaim to represent the people, I will discuss how that is neither pragmatic or possible. Why would a party proclaim to represent the public when it clearly does not anymore? Put simply, the parties are manipulated by the people who contribute to their campaigns so that they can be re-elected, no matter how that affects the people they supposedly represent. While proclaiming that poverty, destitution, and racism are personal problems, individual problems, they excuse themselves from tackling the problems that present themselves before the population in general. This position absolves them of responsibility for solving actual systemic problems plaguing the population they represent—for instance, homelessness, drug abuse, poverty, and crime in general. The typical response to homelessness and poverty are "get a better job," despite the fact that that person could have been born into poverty and homelessness and has no influence, be it political, economic, or cultural, and therefore have no way to get a better job, receive a better education, receive health care, or increase income in any way.
The problem now is no longer the system that gives people no way out of poverty, which prioritizes profits over giving people the basic respect that humans should deserve, merely being human. The poor are not lazy, in fact, they are the hardest of workers. Reforms of the Clinton era closed most of the loopholes in the welfare system, and therefore the stereotypical welfare queen does not exist—you cannot live off of welfare, indeed nobody wants to live off welfare. Do you think the poor enjoy poverty? What sort of masochists does that make 12.6 percent of the population that loves barely scraping by, not being able to afford basic luxuries made standard by consumerist culture? How did American society come to view poverty and systemic oppression as individualized behavior problems as opposed to what they truly are? Why are US citizens not questioning their government and system of economics to understand why in the richest of countries 43 million people are in poverty?
There is no simple answer to this. To understand the political culture of the United States today, we must go back to 1948. To Alger Hiss. To the House Un-American Activities Committee (HUAC). The simple answer is that questioning systemic poverty and reasons for the inequality of wealth distribution threatened the United States during their Cold War feud with the Soviet Union. As such, culture was censored; Hollywood was investigated for ties to the Communist Party and films such as Mary Poppins and Salt of the Earth underwent reviews to determine whether they were fit for public viewing. Mary Poppins depicted bankers in a negative light, and in doing so, was very nearly censored. As such serious political discourse in culture was tinted with the individualist patriotism we see today. Where the American Dream is central and any individual can theoretically make a living in the country, and not only that but thrive with their own house and ownership. The reaction to this cultural censorship sprang up in the 1960s, and the Civil Rights Movement and the anti-war movement questioned the government, delegitimizing the democratically elected government. The government, however, still infiltrated these movements, writing anonymous letters threatening Martin Luther King and other political leaders.
The COINTELPRO (Counterintelligence Program) would disable any legitimate or illegitimate attempts to question the system of government or economics that dominated the United States at this time. The FBI would infiltrate and disrupt attempts to organize resistance to this movement. As such, political discourse was limited to the legitimate channels of the two parties. Meanwhile, during 1968, France almost collapsed in May, the United Kingdom and Germany made significant reforms to appease angry populations who no longer supported the Cold War crusade in several parts of the world, notably Vietnam. Meanwhile, the United States developed the party framework that would limit dissent to dissent across party lines, offering very little representation to those who did not agree with either party.
Then politics would shift even more fundamentally to the right, eliminating even more of the active political spectrum in the United States. The Democratic Party is not and never will be considered Socialist, no matter how progressive their centrist policies seem to be in our backwater of a country. The Democrats have not shifted their policies any more so to the left than they have been twenty years ago, as the parties shifted rightward under Reagan, both becoming socially conservative in the wake of conservative backlash. Meanwhile, congressional deadlock has angered the public, each side blaming the other while the main fault is the ineffective system of government, not the individuals in either party. The problems of America lie in the fact that nobody questions the Constitution. Nobody questions capitalism.
In the 2018 elections, the socio-economic conditions of 2016 are still prescient, and neither party provides convincing policies to solve poverty, racism, patriarchy, or exploitation. Neither party will make a difference in the socio-economic system in which they are trapped. It is neither in the interest of the politicians (most of whose campaign contributions are from massive corporations regardless of party), nor is it in the interests of the corporations that control them. The government structure of the United States is the reason for its own woes, not any individual. Significant problems go ignored by either party because they have no interest in solving these problems, or they have bought into the ruling narrative that most personal problems are due to individual failings. Rather than question, the two parties do not question. They follow to the letter the legitimate constitution, rather than pay attention to "illegitimate" methods of dissent, or "illegitimate" movements including the rising activities of the left and right to gain support among the masses. As such, there is no change in the platform of the parties—nothing will change. There will be deadlock and nothing will get done once again. Instead of solving the problems within society, the politicians will continue to bicker over meaningless power they gained at the expense of the people.