An Endlessly Escalating Game of Chicken
For the past decades, the US political system has been trapped in a never ending game of chicken. The game is driven by our weakening adherence to the 2 party system and fear of tyranny by the majority. Now more than ever we are starting to see the flinching from both sides as they near collision. The Left and the Right on both sides of the aisle need to pump the breaks and finally split.
Both the Democratic Party and the Republican party have long been in a state of internal struggle. The biggest fight began post voting rights when the poles switched and the poor white, southerners left the democratic party en masse to join the Republicans over among other things the VRA. The Republicans welcomed the support but it pushed the party hard to the right over the years. We are seeing it in fulmination via Trump.
Trump is doing overwhelmingly well among poor white people. People the elites of the Republican party scowled at and recently said deserve to die. People the elitists on the left scoffed at as worthless racists. They found someone to channel their rage in Trump. They like that he wants to fix their economy. They like that he beats up elitist assholes like Christie and Rubio. They like that he is finally someone strong enough to stand up for them, and the Republicans could not be more terrified. Rightly so, the man is Il Duce reincarnated as a rich white guy from Queens.
Rather than push to the left, the democratic party has attempted to placate the center. The biggest example being one Bill Clinton. A President who did almost as much damage to the economy as Reagan but because of the booming tech sector he gets credit to “creating jobs” and being good for the economy. Clinton reformed welfare in such a manner that we are about to witness around 1 million people lose their assistance to buy food. He had Glass Steagall repealed allowing banks to become even grander behemoths leading to the Great Recession. And pushed for NAFTA which has hurt the working class harder than any other act or law prior. Within the party the progressive wing, those who had pushed hard for stronger safety nets, better trade deals, and tighter controls on Wall Street began to speak out and fight to seperate (see Ralph Nader).
Then came George W. Who managed to push the Democrats just a wee bit towards the left and unite them against him. He paved the way for an Obama Presidency by being entirely incompetent, blowing 14 trillion on 2 pointless wars and replacing the bill of rights with a picture of his feet he painted in the White House tub. The left were desperate for anyone to win back the WH. Obama fit the just left of center mold that Bush had helped make and he got youth and minorities out to vote like never before.
With 8 years of Obama’s just left of center Presidency, the left has had a chance to recuperate. The FDR/Carter wing of the party had 8 years to gain momentum and it came full force in Bernie Sanders. The center & right wing of the Democratic party fell in lock step with their just left of center candidate Hillary Clinton and polarized the party as harshly as they could by attacking the Left with everything and the kitchen sink. Despite the lack of media acknowledgement Sanders has outperformed anyone’s expectations. Doing overwhelmingly good with the youth of the party, especially young women, and also with Latinos from the get go. His support among black voters consistently rises with media exposure, so if anything his struggles in the south can be correlated to his campaign’s failure to advertise sooner. He will likely lose in the primary but he has woken up the left wing of the party. He has championed their beliefs of equality for all, stronger unions, better standards of living, you know all the stuff that Europe has had for decades while we were increasing poverty and sliding to the right again and again.
Back to my game of chicken analogy. In the Republican side those former democrats are pulling hard one way while the elitist Romney's are pulling the other. In the Democratic side you have the split between Clinton and Sanders. It is my utmost hope that both parties finally hit the breaks and split. It’s long overdue for the US to have 3–4 political parties like literally every other democracy in the world. Neither side wants it to happen because of FOMO. If the Republicans split and the Democrats don’t they know they lose, and vice versa. We need to have parties that actually represent the people of this country rather than an insane center hell bent on winning over any moral coda being fueled by billions in funding.
It probably won’t happen though. Trump has too many in the near center of the Democrats shaking in their boots and way too scared to follow a split behind say Jill Stein and the Greens. Perhaps we could get lucky though. The Republicans in their terror could push for a third party candidate. Or they could forcibly elect someone else at the convention leading Trump to leave with his supporters. The #nevertrump and the #bernieorbust groups could use this momentum to fix our whole political landscape in one fell swoop. But it’s unlikely. There’s far too much money to be made being in the middle of the road.
But if nothing else Bernie has given me hope. He’s inspired me to stand up to the establishment. He’s shown me that other people do care about the things I care for. That economic and ecological justice aren’t pipe dreams. That one day we can catch up. Until then, I’m going to keep trudging through the mire.