The State of American Politics
I’m well and truly intrigued by the state of American politics. Perhaps it’s because I’m still quite young, but I don’t recall politics ever being such a divisive topic. Therefore, I feel the need to acknowledge my own liberal biases before I continue.
After what’s been an… interesting first couple months of Trump’s presidency, I think that a few things have become abundantly clear, but first and foremost: the GOP is clearly stronger/more unified than the DNC. This isn’t necessarily a good thing.
In the wake of former FBI director James Comey’s firing, people likely expect that Trump is inching closer to impeachment. Will it happen? Probably not.
What the GOP has shown time and time again is its willingness to outright ignore its supposed core principles, as long as they’re able to achieve their goal of winning elections/grabbing power. (The GOP’s ability to win elections is part of the reason why I believe that it’s so important to reassess gerrymandering regulations and restrictions, but that’s another issue entirely.)
In essence, what we’ve seen is GOP party members so devoted to the cause of the party (and their own special interests) that they’re more than willing to ignore the will of their constituents. Needless to say, this is problematic–and also a mistake on their behalf.
Healthcare was the party’s first major test. They failed miserably the first time around. Then the House GOP managed to pass through a bill to the Senate, despite many of them not even reading it. The fallout of their actions remains to be seen.
The biggest check on government power will always be the American people. What we’ve seen in recent months is a large scale, grassroots movement, galvanizing individuals to get involved/politically active in midterm, local, and presidential elections. This can only be a net positive.
Now for the Democrats. The poor, lost Democrats. They like to think that they’re not as corrupt and incorrigible as the GOP, but they’d be lying to themselves.
The Democratic Party is fractured at best, and dead in its tracks at worst. The problem goes deeper than Bernie vs. Hillary. Currently, the Democratic Party has too many different interests, from LGBT/minority rights to social services expansion, without strong leadership to unify separate factions under a single goal.
To say that the Democratic establishment is out of touch is an understatement. Consider what has happened since Hillary won the Democratic nomination. Bernie Sanders was without a doubt a grassroots candidate, and a quite popular one at that. Ask yourself: has the party leadership really done anything to try and integrate this movement into the party?
After the election, the Democrats had and opportunity with the DNC chair. From a policy standpoint, Perez and Ellison aren’t separated by much, but sometimes the biggest difference is symbolic. Choosing Ellison would have demonstrated the DNC’s willingness to evolve with the party. Instead they chose Perez, and many young Democrats were left feeling ignored and embittered.
Again, it remains to be seen what the long term fallout will be, but at the moment we’re left with a Democratic party that is lost and deeply confused at the core.
Despite all the confusion, turmoil, and downright unsavoriness in the political landscape, I remain optimistic about the future of American politics. For the time being, it seems as though more and more people are getting involved and informed. I’ve never seen so many videos of town hall meetings go viral in my life, albeit for less than ideal reasons.
After the election, there was immediate concern about the potential autocratic/authoritarian actions by this administration. What these past couple of months have shown us is that, at least for the time being, our Constitution and democracy are more resilient than we anticipated. Turns out that once people have certain basic freedoms, they’re reluctant to relinquish them again.