We, as a race, have a terribly self-destructive tendency to over quantify the unquantifiable. It’s the sole cause of religion. Of materialism. And, perhaps most pertinent to 21st century American politics, and most definitely to this piece, it’s what leads to political partisanship.
In his final public address as the first President of the United States, George Washington famously warned against the dangers of increasingly partisan political attitudes in the United States. It’s safe to say we did not heed his warning. For the past 200ish years of our existence, our political institutions have seemingly thrived under the control of a two party system. Only they haven’t. America’s political institutions have become more and more dilapidated as the ridiculous notion that we, as a race, cannot possibly fathom more than two choices, is helplessly carried on.
Many people blame Donald Trump’s presidency on the rising prevalence and influence of the far right in America’s political zeitgeist, this notion is entirely an incorrect one. Sure, Donald Trump’s platform may have been widened by a strong far-right foundation, but it was not the far right, a political sub-sect that makes up less than 25% of the population, that got Donald Trump elected, such is a ridiculous theory in practice. You can blame Donald Trump’s election and following reign of terror on repressed racism and sexism in America all you want, but that was not what got him elected. You did.
Or more accurately, we did, as a society, and more appropriately, as the purveyors of the tacit conspiracy that is political partisanship. When you think about it, America, under the influence of this modern day tribalism, is less of a democracy than it ever has been. And yes, I know, it’s a democratic republic, but in a world where we have a choice between two, Two candidates, it’s barely even that. The endurance of political partisanship is the endurance of the illusion of what America stands for, rather than what it really is. Under it, America is not a republic, or a democracy, nor any possible combination of the two, but a oligarchy, a society dominated by the wealthy and influential. You may think you have a choice, but you don’t, because your’e not the one whose choosing who leads, and instead, you’re often just left choosing the lesser of two evils.
And it’s your fault. You praise your party when they do as they should, but turn a blind eye when they act against the best interest of the United States. On the other hand, you lambast the other side for being anti-American while conveniently looking over what they do to defend our country. As long as you support a political party, you are the one who is anti-American, not because of what affiliation you hold, but because you hold such an affiliation in the first place.
The most common defense of dilapidated system is that the American voting population cannot possibly discern between more than two options, and thus, the current system is in place for the best interest of the public. That’s not the case. The current system is in place for the best interest for the richest of the rich and the most influential of the influential. It lets them put people like Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton on the ballot and forces us to choose between them. We say we see ourselves as “the highest animal”, let’s start acting like it. We can choose between more than two choices for who should lead our country.
“But that means I have to do more research!”
Yeah, that’s kind of the point. As a society, reading deeper into our candidates can seriously help us to paint a better picture of what America needs, a picture that is inaccurate with America’s current, hamstrung system.
America will never be a democracy, or a republic, under the current two party system. It, likewise, will also never fully overcome the heightened political tensions afforded by it. If we want to make America the best version of itself, we must let it speak for itself, and we must listen to it, as we should listen to George Washington. We must destroy political parties.