Saturday, October 25, 2014

America's Broken Government: Good, Bad and Ugly Choices for Voters

There was a time when the two party system, although imperfect, worked reasonably well in this country. This may have been because the leaders of both parties had some respect for each other and were willing to compromise for the good of the nation. When one party became too powerful, the American people tended to vote them out thus allowing the pendulum to shift from the right to the left and back again. As a result, the country remained fairly close to the center on the political spectrum. When times got tough, Democrats came up with social programs like Social Security and Medicare or put people to work on the government payroll. When things improved, Republicans stepped in pledging to lower taxes, encourage the creation of private sector jobs and kick the freeloaders off the public payroll.
Unfortunately, it's long past time to admit what is obvious to the rest of the world. America's government is broken. The two party system isn't working. It no longer cares what is true or false, right or wrong or even what is good for the American people. All that matters is holding onto political power and shutting the minority party out of the governing process. The people tolerate this because they have become convinced by the media that the members of the other party are evil, greedy, uninformed, corrupt or just plain stupid. Contributing further to the destruction of our Republic is the incredible amount of money required to fund political campaigns. It is evident to everyone but the United States Supreme Court that those campaign donations come with an extremely high price tag. 
As the November elections draw near, where do voters turn for the information required to make an informed decision at the polls? Hopefully not the media. Both conservative and liberal pundits spin every issue; cloaking it in their ideological prejudices and far too often deliberately lying to the public. Politicians will say anything if they believe it will appeal to the base. This makes it impossible to know where they stand on the issues or if they possess the courage to cross party lines and vote their conscience. Campaign ads are so hateful and misleading, they're painful to watch. It's not surprising many people are either voting strictly along party lines or choosing to stay away from the polls.
Blind party loyalty is dangerous, particulariy when there is so much disparity in the platforms of America's major political parties. The GOP insists the federal government, labor unions, and millions of Americans unwilling to take responsibility for themselves are the enemy. They claim most problems in this country can be solved by lowering taxes, relaxing government oversight of corporate America, keeping government out of the lives of American citizens (with the exception of a woman's right to choose and same-sex marriage), disbanding social welfare programs, deporting illegal immigrants, securing our border with Mexico, privatizing public institutions and injecting Christian principles into our secular government. The Democrats look to the federal government for solutions. As the creators of Medicare and Social Security, they are less willing to cut funding for public assistance and social welfare programs. Democrats are also more likely to invoke the power of the federal government in preventing discrimination, guarding the public against corporate exploitation, safeguarding the environment and defending civil rights. Although sometimes referred to as the "tax and spend" party, the real difference isn't that they spend more than Republicans or care less about the deficit. It's their spending priorities are different. Their tax policy supports tax cuts for the middle class but calls for increases in the tax rates for the wealthy. 
Pollsters predict the November election will be an overwhelming victory for the GOP. If true, there will be tough times ahead for the growing number of Americans living below the poverty level, labor unions and those who have benefited from the Affordable Health Care Act. It will also be a setback for those concerned about climate change or a women's right to choose. It will, however, be a good day for those who believe opportunity still exists for anyone with the will to succeed, social programs such as food stamps and housing assistance create dependency, voting is a privilege not a right and the price tag for ensuring all Americans have access to health care is too high.
Both parties have something to offer the American people. Unfortunately, the mentality in Washington these days is winner take all. The GOP gaining control of the Senate will not result in a new spirit of cooperation and the battle the GOP has waged against President Obama will accelerate. Meanwhile, liberal pundits will shout to the heavens that wealthy conservative donors bought the election aided by Voter ID legislation sponsored by Republican Governors.

Is it any wonder that rest of the world shakes their heads in wonder at what the American political system has become?