Politics and Cola

10 08 2010

Sometimes I feel like the Democratic Party and the Republican Party are the same party.  Call me ignorant if you want but think about it.  Both parties, when in power, receive the same criticisms: they’re spending too much, they’re accomplishing too little, they’re too corrupt, they don’t have their priorities straight, they raised taxes even though they said they wouldn’t, they lowered taxes even though it’s irresponsible, they’re un-American and trying to sabotage the country, and so on.  The policies they enact always tend to be the feeble step-cousins of what was promised in campaign time.  Unilateral decisions are condemned as tyrannical.  Supporters always complain that their party is leaning too far in the other direction.  The good stuff is always the same, too: they gave a good speech, they created some good will with somebody, they created policy to help the poor, they’re committed to peace, etc.

I think what all this means is that when you boil down these political parties to what they can actually accomplish while in office you have essentially the same party.  Sure, their ideological starting points are different to start with but come time to make policy it all dissolves into some sort of moderate political cocktail anyway.  And when policy is made, each party justifies it with their own ideology giving us the illusion that they did something the other side couldn’t or wouldn’t do.  What we have with both major parties is the same product, marketed differently, repackaged and sold as ‘new and improved’ and better than the other guy.  Democrats and Republicans are the Pepsi and Coke of politics: huge competitors, each with a loyal following, and each tastes about the same.

Am I exaggerating?  Yes.  And I’m doing so on purpose.  I don’t know if my point is that we need more viable options when it comes to political parties so that when we vote we’re actually getting a change and so that we can base our votes on something other than a candidate’s position on abortion or the second amendment.  Or maybe my point is that we need to grow up a little and realize that our goals are more common than we think so that we can eliminate some of the counterproductive mud-slinging and name-calling that constantly thwarts good politicians in America.

Final thought:

Liberal ≠ Conservative, but

Democrat ≈ Republican

Think about it.  Next election, vote Green! (or Libertarian!)  Or whatever. :)

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3 responses

11 08 2010
Brittney

Whoa! Pete, totally have to disagree. I think that the ideological starting points are very important things to note. Do you really think that if this was a McCain/Palin presidency, there would be any sort of real health care reform? I think that the reason their bills get watered down or taxes criticized has more to do with the structure of government than the two parties that are a part of said structure. I have to believe that being a Democrat (which I am) means a lot of different things than being a Republican (which I don’t think I can EVER be). I do agree that there is A LOT of mud-slinging that is being done and not enough working together, but I am of the opinion that the Republicans are doing considerably more filibustering and kiboshing this presidency ’round than the Democrats did in the last (but if you can find some stats that disprove that opinion, I’d listen to them).

11 08 2010
Alycia Crowley

The more I study politics the more faith I loose in it all. I don’t think there are really any “parties” either… they are just people trying to get elected and ultimately are addicted to that type of power and would honestly do about anything to get it, and keep it.
I would like to think there are still some decent people out there that really want to help the nation (and that is their only goal), and maybe there are. But history has just shown me not to get my hopes up. This may sound super cynical but I personally just think I am being realistic.
I totally agree that people are more alike then they really want to admit. Because lets face, no topic is black or white.
BUT even with my believe that these people are really all just in it for the power, that is no excuse to give up on trying to make the system better and be active in my community and voting :)

26 08 2010
Dad

Peter, I really wish that I could agree with you. During the election cycles we see ideology, and after past elections we have seen a moderating of that ideology, but I have to agree with Brittney that McCain/Palin would NOT have done anything similar to what President Obama has done, and further to that, the Democrats would have crossed the aisle to try and sway the conservative ideology a bit to the left. Not on their WORST day would the Democrats have been the “Party of No.”

In this regard, allow me to give you a short history lesson that may allow you to see something far more sinister behind the facade. If the GOP is Coca-Cola, then there is poison hiding in the recipe.

Before classes started this week I was getting into the book called, “The Second Civil War” by Ronald Brownstein, and in the preface he talks about the hard turn that the Republican’s took in 1994 under the guidance of the now-disgraced Tom DeLay. This is what DeLay said in his exit speech on the House floor in June 2006:

“In preparing for today, I found that it is customary in speeches such as these to reminisce about the good old days of political harmony, and across-the-aisle camaraderie, and to lament the bitter, divisive partisan rancor that supposedly now weakens our democracy. Well, I cannot do that because partisanship, Mr. Speaker, properly understood, is not a symptom of democracy’s weakness but of its health and its strength, especially from the perspective of a political conservative. Liberalism, after all, whatever you may think of its merits, is a political philosophy and a proud one with a great tradition in this country, with a voracious appetite for growth. In any place, or any time, on any issue, what does liberalism ever seek, Mr. Speaker? More. More government, more taxation, more control over people’s lives and decisions and wallets. If conservatives do not stand up to liberalism, no one will. And for a long time around here, almost no one did. Indeed, the common lament over the recent rise in political partisanship is often nothing more than a veiled complaint instead about the recent rise of political conservatism. Now politics demands compromise, but we must never forget that compromise and bipartisanship are means, not ends, and are properly employed only in the service of higher principles. It is not the principled partisan, however obnoxious he may seem to his opponents, who degrades our public debate, but the preening, self-styled statesman who elevates compromise to a first principle. For the true statesmen, Mr. Speaker, are not defined by what they compromise, but by what they do not.”

Tom DeLay engineered the “Party-of-No.” His legacy is a divide so deep between liberal and conservative that it leaves no room for independents. This is the climate that Ronald Brownstein wrote about in his book, “The Second Civil War.” Tom DeLay laid the foundation for what we see now, and tell me honestly, does it feel like we are close to a “second civil war?”

Four years after Tom DeLay’s speech, we see 10 GOP candidates that are certifiable whacked-out nut-job extremists. Following in DeLay’s footsteps, they won their respective primaries by highlighting their extreme conservative ideology and in many cases they beat out sitting conservatives.

No, Peter, Pepsi and Coke used to be roughly equal, but now there is a poison in the Coca-Cola and if this country goes back to drinking Coke we will see a marginalization of minorities that will take this country back more than a century. If this new brand of conservative GOP under Palin, Gingrich, Bachmann, Boehner, McConnell, Angle, Paul, Quayle, Miller, Limbaugh, and Beck (to name just a few) ever get a majority in the House and 60 votes in the Senate, then we will see a nativist mindset return to America where anybody who is not white, Christian, and heterosexual will be “othered” to the point of Jim Crow-like laws.

As a mental experiment, just imagine that not a single Democrat is re-elected on November 4th. Imagine that Pepsi is banned from the country. If the GOP were to be unchallenged, where would they take this country?

Now, on the flip side, imagine that not a single Republican is re-elected and that the liberals have unchecked access to creating laws and that Coca-Cola is banned.

Which country would be more humane? Which country would respect the minorities? Which country would have a larger middle-class, fewer poor, and better opportunities for those poor? Which country would offer education and healthcare to the least advantaged? What would life be like for the Blacks, Hispanics, Muslims and gays? What would life be like for the worker-class without a union to protect them?

The choice is as clear as Canada vs. pre-2001 Afghanistan.

The slate of candidates under the GOP for November 4th has some people as deeply partisan as Tom DeLay, and they are the Christian equivalent of the Taliban where rape victims will be forced to have their babies, where abortion clinics will face unbelievable hurdles to even operate (which just happened yesterday in Virginia), and where homosexuality will be criminalized along with a host of other Christian “moral laws.” No mosques will be built anywhere in the country, and government grants will only go to Christian faith-based initiatives (which is what Bush did from 2000 to 2008 when abstinence-only sex education was the only kind allowed in public schools.)

We are in many ways back to 1964 when Goldwater was campaigning. Back then we faced rhetoric like:

“I would remind you that extremism in the defense of liberty is no vice! And let me remind you also that moderation in the pursuit of justice is no virtue.”

To make it more clear, drop the word “Christian” in front of extremism for the true intent of his words. The man was so extreme that the Democrats countered him with a slogan that said, “In your heart, you know he might,” which was in reference to starting a nuclear war…or in other words, push the “red button.”

In my heart, I believe that in 2010 Americans will see a clear choice, and since the 1964 landslide victory for Johnson was one of the largest in US history, I can hope that in the face of similar extremism today, Democrats, with the support of independents and moderate Republicans, will once again be the victors, but that is by no means a guarantee.

There is much at stake when we enter the ballot box on November 4th this year, but one thing is for sure.

The Democrats are in no way similar to the “new” Tea Party Republicans that are running in this election.

While a few short years ago, Pepsi might have been similar to Coca-Cola, that is no longer the case.

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