The Fantasy of the Ideological Other's Agency in the Mentality of the Duopolist Dead-Ender

One of the great ironies of the duopoly system of government is that partisans of the Democratic and Republican Parties have become some of the staunchest, if inadvertent, detractors of the two-party state, and this is not only because what passes for political discourse among them could be Exhibit A in the case of the People of the United States versus the two-party state. The synthesis of the partisan Democratic and Republican treatment of two-party politics results in nothing less than an indictment of the Democratic-Republican Party.

Consider the conservative and progressive duopolist critiques of the Republican and Democratic Parties. The conservative Republican complains that the Democratic Party has been hijacked by radical leftists and that the Republican Party has been taken over by RINOs. The progressive Democrat growls that the Republican Party is beholden to right wing radicals and that the Democratic Party has been captured by corporate interests. (And, of course, for the conservative Republican, progressive Democrats are the radical left, while for the progressive Democrat the conservative Republican is the radical right, and so we see, yet again, how two-party politics runs the gamut from A to B.) In other words, the conservative Republican claims that the Democratic Party is the agent of the progressive movement, but the progressive Democrat maintains that the Democratic Party stands opposed to progressive interests and concerns, while the same time, the progressive Democrat claims that the Republican Party has become the agent of the conservative movement, but conservative Republicans assert that the Republican Party serves interests that are not in line with conservative values.

Thus, conservative and progressive duopolists each perceive the other as the central agency within their preferred party, but each side perceives itself as a marginalized constituency which is exploited or otherwise taken advantage of by that party's establishment. Arguably, this fantasy of the other's agency binds duopolist dead-enders to the Democratic-Republican Party and blinds them to the obvious truth of the proposition that the two-party system simply does not and cannot effectively represent the interests of the people of the United States whatever their ideology may be.

In the disconnect between the average voter's perception of the Congress as a whole and of their own representative in particular, we may see one practical result of this ideological formation. At The Whig, Septimus brings together a number of recent polls and draws the decisive conclusion:
60 to 69% of American disapprove of the job Congress is doing.

58% of Americans disapprove of the job Republicans in Congress are doing.

55% of Americans disapprove of the job Democrats in Congress are doing.

It is time to realize that your member of Congress is part of the problem.
I am tempted to take this point one step further: until you realize that your member of Congress is part of the problem, you are part of the problem.


Samuel Wilson said...

Actually, you need to take it a step further yet and tell people that voting for the member of the "opposite" party instead of the incumbent will not solve the problem -- but I'm preaching to the choir, here. As for the rest of your post, the obvious difficulty is the belief of progressives and conservatives that the Democratic and Republican parties, respectively, belong to them. The perception that the Bipolarchy parties are fundamental national institutions compels ideologues to strive to control them on the assumption that they cannot rule the country except through one or the other party. Perpetual frustration does not dissuade them from the struggle any more than consecutive defeats make them swear off elections. Among conservatives as well as progressives, an entitlement mentality prevails that renders them dependent on the Bipolarchy. They remain prisoners because they think they own the place.

d.eris said...

"take it a step further yet" . . . Yes, I left that point implicit, but it really seems like there are fewer and fewer people for whom the "other" duopoly party represents a viable option. This sort of polarization may drive some folks to seek out independent and third party alternatives.

As for the prisoner's dilemma you delineate, I'm not sure what even a potential solution to that contradiction would look like.