Partisan Derangement Syndrome: When Voting Becomes a Distraction from Democracy

It seems like stupid season comes earlier and earlier every two years. Why I could swear that only ten months ago was the most important national election of my young life and we’re already gearing up for another most important national election of my young life. In fact, I would estimate that I’ve survived no fewer than 16 most important national elections of my young life, each one allegedly more most important than the last. Now, in the wake of Joe Biden’s plummeting approval ratings and the recent gubernatorial upset in Virginia, Democrats and Republicans alike are prepping for all-out war again during the midterms a full year before they’re even set to take place and they’re bombarding young independents like me with the message to vote for their corrupt corporate party instead of the other corrupt corporate party because my life depends on a lesser evil occupying the Capitol.

It’s not all their fault. In fact, I kind of feel bad for the sorry bastards. Both Republicans and Democrats alike suffer from a debilitating virus more devastating than any two strains of COVID put together known as Partisan Derangement Syndrome. A form of toxic color blindness that allows one to act like an obnoxious close-minded little shit because only members of the other party are obnoxious close-minded little shits. Other symptoms of PDS include cable news dependency, rampant jingoism, the delusion that a single corrupt elderly white man is the cause of all life’s ills, the delusion that some other equally corrupt elderly white man is the solution to all life’s ills, oral diarrhea and badgering your few sane relatives to the brink of self-immolation for not succumbing to the same virus that has rendered you into a yammering hypocritical nitwit. Most people who suffer from PDS will have zero awareness of their own sickness but will become irritatingly aware of it’s existence in the members of the rival party and will come up with fantastic plot lines to explain its purely partisan nature.

Republicans will tell you that Democrats are a band of multicultural Marxist jihadists on the warpath to destroy America as we know it because they hate White Jesus and any poor freedom-loving WASP who puts his name before common sense. In this narrative, Joe Biden is little more than a babbling braindead nincompoop controlled by a handful of dick chopping Muslim women of color, like some kind of Spike Lee Joint remake of Weekend At Bernie’s. The ambition of these evil wokesters is to rape your children’s supple minds with the exotic witchcraft of Critical Race Theory and Transgenderism until they join the hordes of undocumented aliens in forming a new genderless mulatto master race to replace the hard-working Caucasian victims of this country’s silent majority and usher in a new Eurasian Century for their secret Chinese overlords.

Not to be beaten, Democrats will tell you that Republicans represent nothing less than a Fifth Reich that answers directly to none other than Vladimir Putin himself and that a new rainbow coalition of permanently vulnerable but newly vital marginalized people like myself can only be saved from a career white supremacist supervillain like Donald Trump if we cling to the ample bosom of a career white supremacist savior like Joe Biden. Without the tirelessly patronizing patriarchy of the DNC, poor helpless trannies like myself would be utterly helpless against the very police state that they erected to contain the minorities they suddenly care so damn much about. These self-made bastions of enlightened champagne socialism are the only thing standing between us and an unwashed horde of unvaccinated inbred Bible-thumping hillbillies, chomping toothlessly at the bit to subject our gloriously indispensable democracy to wave after wave of January 6 style insurrections until nothing but the autocracy of Orange Man Bad is left standing.

This kind of divisive bipartisan culture war nonsense is nothing but a distraction from the cruel reality that both of these parties serve the same damn masters. It’s all theater in the form of an epic fever dream of endless binary conflict between the forces of blue and red, good and evil. Washington politics is essentially just pro-wrestling for wonks. The two parties put on a good show battling over issues no lobby stands to profit much from, like abortion and CRT, when in reality they aren’t so much fighting as dancing for the cameras, with every piledriver, elbow drop and chair shot carefully choreographed so that no one truly powerful ever gets hurt. And after a long day of play fighting, these wealthy heels and babyfaces all get together at the same tony Beltway garden parties and have a good laugh over cocktails at our expense as Republicans and Democrats alike toast to Lockheed Martin and Goldman Sachs and another two years of blowing up brown people in the desert with our tax dollars while they all get fat and rich.

Don’t you see children, it’s all work. No matter which party holds the title belt this week, the same multinational corporations who fund this ruse always win. That’s why the only thing that’s really changed over the last year from Trump to Biden is the rhetoric. When you look at the politics that really count, nothing has changed. In no place is this more painfully clear than with the two issues that define the very nature of American imperial power; the police state and the war machine.

In the wake of the fiery uprisings of the summer of 2020, Joe Biden ran on a barrage of promises to roll back the police state that he and Bill Clinton constructed to keep the Black and Brown people they pander to in chains. The Democrats inaugurated this new era of reimagining policing with the George Floyd Act, a modest set of reforms that passed the House on partisan lines. But the moment Derek Chauvin was found guilty of lynching the bill’s namesake, it very quickly died on the vine in backroom negotiations with nary a whimper from Senate Democrats, while Biden funneled $350 billion in pandemic relief funds into strengthening the same pigs his party quite willingly failed to reign in. Biden has similarly used the boogeymen of gun violence and domestic extremism to expand the reach of the FBI while they continue former Attorney General Bill Barr’s jihad against the mostly Black partisans of the George Floyd Uprisings that frightened woke Democrats just enough to pretend that Black lives matter.

Meanwhile, the police state’s greatest growth industry at the border continues to boom. In spite of Republican conspiracy theories of open borders and the great replacement, Biden has picked up where he left off during the Obama Administration by out trumping Trump on immigration cruelty. The concentration camps are fuller than ever with traumatized children and the Prison Industrial Complex is raking in the doe. After making a big show of closing a couple of notoriously depraved private prisons, Biden has kept nearly 200 open for ICE while using Title 42 to extrajudicially hurl out more migrants in less than a year than Trump did in four.

We see this same pattern of bait and switch hypocrisy in Biden’s suspiciously Trumpian foreign policy. During his first foreign policy speech, Joe pledged to end all American support for Saudi Arabia’s “offensive” operations in its genocidal war on Yemen. But Joe conveniently left the back door wide open by pledging to continue to support the sovereignty of a nation that considers bombing school busses full of children to be defensive. In the year since that speech, quite literally nothing has changed in Yemen. Saudi Arabia’s crippling blockade remains as crippling as ever as millions of Yemenis teeter on the brink of starvation and Biden has ok’d half a billion dollars in maintenance contracts to keep the House of Saud’s American killing machines killing. All while Joe plays the peace card by offering to end it all if the Houthi rebels simply disarm and surrender to their Wahhabi tormentors.

This same kind of diplomatic chicanery runs rampant on Iran as well. The Islamic Republic has graciously offered to return to the same peace deal Donald Trump unceremoniously tore to shreds, provided that we hold up our end of the bargain and lift the sanctions that have contributed to Iran’s 125,000 COVID deaths. But 6 rounds of feckless negotiations in and the Biden Administration continues to sabotage it’s alleged intentions to return to the JCPOA at every turn by adding conditions like requiring new restrictions to Iran’s missile program that could cripple their defenses against their American tax dollar funded foes in Saudi Arabia. In the meantime, the White House continues to display their good faith by adding on even more sanctions and threatening Iran with announcements that all options remain on the table as we fly B-I Bombers over the Straight of Hormuz, flanked by Saudi fighter jets fresh from the killing fields of Yemen.

If all this seems eerily familiar it’s because all of it was ripped straight from the book of Trump which was ripped straight from the book of Obama and so on and so forth. In a nation where the elections are ruthlessly rigged so only two parties can win and both parties serve the exact same corporate masters in the Prison and Military Industrial Complexes, elections aren’t a form of democracy, they are a distraction from it. We saw more democracy in the streets in three months during the summer of 2020 than this country had seen in thirty years. That’s why both parties are so desperate to quell this kind of cop car-burning populism with chickenshit squabbles over textbooks and transgender bathrooms. The big secret of the supposedly game-changing gubernatorial election in Virginia is that it was a race between a Carlyle Group neocon and a Clinton Foundation neoliberal. Two swamp critters with nary a ray of sunlight between their centrist plutocratic ambitions that both left and right-wing populists should have been able to agree were equally loathsome and unworthy of a single ballot. This is how the partisan electoral hoax works in this country. It splits poor people against each other over rich fucking assholes who they should be saving their rage for.

The only known cure to Partisan Derangement Syndrome is direct democracy and you’ll never find that in American voting both as long as the two-party plutocracy is running the show. Enjoy stupid season, dearest motherfuckers. I’ll see you people in the streets.

Nicky Reid is an agoraphobic anarcho-genderqueer gonzo blogger from Central Pennsylvania and assistant editor for Attack the System. You can find her online at Exile in Happy Valley.