The Political System in the US is a Train Wreck

As election day 2022 (November 8th) approaches, there is frenzied talk and writing by many about the possibility that Republicans will take over the House and perhaps the Senate (Washington Post, October 7, 2022). Some appeals to vote for Democrats have reached a crescendo. Democrats in office may be an evil in many cases, but it is a desirable lesser evil compared to the total evil of Republicans in office, or so the thinking goes and has gone on for a very long time.

Polls don’t mean all that much since the debacle of the Dewey beats Truman prognostication, and was once again reflected in the New York Times’ consistent prediction that Hillary Clinton would become president and Trump would lose. The polls point toward 2022 Republican victories, however.

I was surprised by the Analysis News segment (“Rising Fascism and the Elections,” October 12, 2022) when icons, and justifiably so on the left, Noam Chomsky and Daniel Ellsberg, make their argument for the importance of supporting Democrats to prevent the ultimate evil from taking place this November. The stakes are the possibility of moving the US inextricably close to fascism, they argue. They argue that while Republicans and Democrats are on the same page in regard to foreign policy, they have different positions on domestic policies.

An argument can be made that the US is well on the way to an authoritarian system of government. In the Guardian, Michael Moore argues that the Democrats will win the midterm elections. Which crystal ball Mr. Moore has consulted remains a mystery.

David Smith writes in the Guardian that the Republican Party has become “the party of hate,” and this is no revelation for those of us on the left. The article lists the scores of right-wing Republicans from Kanye West, Elon Musk, and Donald Trump to Marjorie Taylor Greene and many more, along with the words of hate and right-wing speech and actions that have become epidemic within the ranks of contemporary Republicans. The Republicans are the party of resentment and the Democrats are the party of going along, with little legislative substance. Coffers from the elite are open to all.  That is, all who pass the muster of the elite through the duopoly.

All of this is frightening, but it has not happened in a vacuum. Democrats have been willing participants in fanning the flames of resentment that affects so many of the US electorate. Decades of facilitating globalization, without ensuring that workers have any security in the workplace, has had the full cooperation of the Democratic Party since it jettisoned its allegiance to unions in the 1970s and began the long march to deindustrialization in the US. Some critics on the left may argue that moving jobs to Southeast Asia, South Asia, Asia, Mexico and elsewhere is an environmental good, but economic planning in the US is mostly verboten and vast areas of the US, including former centers of industry, were hollowed out by the willing cooperation of both Republicans and Democrats.

A good example of this hollowing out is the auto industry, which has unleashed environmental ruin on the planet through its dedication to the fossil fuel industry. What could have happened if cars and trucks with advanced battery technology had been developed in Detroit and elsewhere in the US? What if efficient electric vehicles had become within the reach of ordinary people? What could have been the outcome if mass transportation became the norm? What about alternative sources of power? But mass transit and alternative sources of power were hardly a passing thought of those who move a predatory system of economics, politics, and social relationships that makes for the arms industry as the best bet for investment.

Both Democrats and Republicans have acted as committees of the economic, political, and social elites, doing their bidding since the US became a world power and then a superpower. The contemporary demonization of both China and Russia (This is not an endorsement of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which is a proxy war fully endorsed by the West.) is fully supported by the Newspaper of Record and other media outlets, and keeps the constant drumbeat for war that George Orwell would have easily recognized decades ago. It doesn’t matter so much who the US and its allies are at war with, but just that the war machine is kept well oiled and running at a constant speed.

Much of the politics of hate that is endemic to the Republican Party comes directly from its fundamentalist/evangelistic base. Kobes and Mez do this issue justice in Jesus and John Wayne: How White Evangelicals Corrupted A Faith and Fractured A Nation (2020). While religious affiliation has decreased over the past several decades, a base of hypocritical hate gives the Republican Party some of its fuel to do great harm to the US.

Howard Lisnoff is a freelance writer. He is the author of Against the Wall: Memoir of a Vietnam-Era War Resister (2017).