Spare the Rod, Spoil the Child

There is a long-standing cliche in mainstream political commentary which likens the two-party state and duopoly system of government to a marriage.  In this fantasy scenario, more often than not, the Democrats are portrayed as the overprotective and hysterical mommy party, while the Republicans are portrayed as the angry and drunken daddy party.  A recent op-ed in Politico provides the cliche with a slight twist, arguing that the power struggle over the debt ceiling to a series of bitter divorce proceedings.  Excerpt from Politico:
With the clock ticking toward the Aug. 2 deadline on increasing the debt ceiling, Democrats and Republican are wrestling over what combination of tax increases, spending cuts and entitlement restructuring could help Americans shake off their economic troubles.

It is a classic power struggle. Like opposing spouses in a bitter divorce, both parties claim the exclusive ability of knowing the “right thing to do.” After all, they “care” more about those in their charge. Each one also wants to get the better of the other, even if it means maligning or making ugly accusations – and, in the end, getting nowhere . . .

After years of mistrust and estrangement in our two-party system, this stalemate mimics the behavior of two self-consumed and combative parents . . .
The fact that this sort of comparison and analogy is so common says less about the Democratic and Republican parties than it does about the infantilization of the American voter, who is portrayed as a helpless child, the plaything of political forces outside of its control and even beyond its comprehension.  But isn't the real situation the exact reverse?  The Democratic and Republican parties did not give birth to the American electorate.  The American electorate gave birth to the Democratic and Republican parties.  In other words, the Democratic and Republican parties are not like squabbling parents whose egos prevent them from putting the interests of their children ahead of their own.  Rather, the Democratic and Republican parties are more like squabbling children who have been spoiled because their overly permissive parents, the American electorate, have spared them the rod. 

Indeed, the electorate has become so fed up with the Democratic and Republican parties that it has allowed its other political children to die of exposure at the behest of the evil twins that tyrannize the national household.  As with a spoiled, quasi-sociopathic child, empty threats against the Democratic and Republican parties lead only to manipulative tantrums and escalating transgressions.  It is time to set some boundaries, and follow through on declared punishments. 

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