The Ideology of Duopoly and the Infantilization of the American Voter

As even just a few passing glances through these pages will show, Poli-Tea is dedicated to sustained critique of the two-party system and the ideology of duopoly politics. It often goes without saying, however, that this would be unnecessary were it not for the fact that so many Americans continue to support the parties which implement the policies and prop up the politicians that these very same voters find so disagreeable. But there aren't as many as one might be led to believe by the partisans of the duopoly parties themselves. In an analysis and opinion piece at Annuit Coeptis, Jay Henderson lays out the situation of 'the sorry state of American politics':
Polls indicate that the liberal Democrats now in charge of the Federal government have basically the same values as about 25 to 35 per cent of the population, depending on the issue, with about 30 per cent being a rough median. Looking at the flip side of the equation, almost 7 out of 10 Americans do not agree with many of the the principles of the Democrats who govern them.

On the other hand, polls also indicate that conservative Republicans, formerly in charge of the Federal government and currently in charge of very little, also have basically the same values as 25 to 35 per cent of the population. So, again, about 7 out of 10 Americans do not agree with many of the principles of the Republicans who formerly governed them.
A post at The Coltons Point Times considers how independents figure in this configuration:
For the first time the number of people claiming to be Independents has surpassed the total number of members of both the Democrat and Republican parties. If the political bosses of the two parties are paying attention then they better be preparing for an early retirement, their stranglehold on the political system and the government may be coming to an end.

So what if the Independents outnumber the Elephants and Donkeys? Well in simple words it means that nearly 40% of our voters have rejected the policies, programs and candidates of the two party system. It also means this huge voting block reflects the disenfranchised voters of America.
The question that should be posed here is why and how the current system persists despite the fact that four out of ten voters reject the two-party system as such, and seven out of ten reject the policies of each party in particular. The answer, of course, is overdetermined, since there are multiple causes of the phenomenon, for example, tradition and historical inertia, the duopolized system of government itself, the corporate-media complex, the costs of running independent and third party campaigns, voter ignorance, voter apathy, etc. For the present, I would like to focus on one paradox of duopoly ideology, namely, the idea and prejudice that the people and parties who are implicated in the (re)production of a particular problematic constellation are the ones who should be entrusted with rectifying it.

In a column at The Post Chronicle, for instance, Thomas Segel touches upon roughly ten different issues of concern to him on which Republicans have proven to be all but impotent (everything from corporate bailouts to healthcare reform), but demands that they magically "grow a backbone." He is forced into this paradoxical position by capitulating, at the very outset, to the propagandistic reasoning of the political form which has bred the situation he so despises:
As fiscal conservatives most of us found ourselves quite lost when the Republican Party left us. We really had no place to go. In our highly structured two party system, no third party has a chance to do anything but act as a spoiler. Taxpayers were really faced with voting Democrat or Democrat-Lite.
A similar illogic can be found in the above-quoted commentary posted by Jim Putnam at The Coltons Point Times:
Both parties are addicted to campaign money, both try to control government policy and in the end the rich still get richer while the middle class is left holding the bag. There will never be effective and honest campaign reform as long as the two parties control the candidates for president, the House and the Senate.
Yet in the very next sentence, we read: "It is time someone sensible in our nation's capitol step up and give all the voters rights." The author persuasively argues that no such person is to be found among the duopoly parties, and then asks for one to stand up in defense of the people's rights! The people of the United States have effectively been castrated by the two-party system of government, and reduced to groveling for the respect of supposedly inalienable rights. It is no wonder that we are infantilized by the national media and our elected representatives alike.


Michael said...

The observations included here clearly illustrate the untapped power of the ranks of independent voters. Your post lays bare the fundamental potential ready to erupt and upset the current duopoly dynamic.

mfarmer said...

People are so conditioned by the two party system, it's almost impossible for them to imagine an alternative. Yes, I hear all the time, that the Rpublicans should tighten up and get their act together -- but, as long as the system remains intact, it will make no difference.

d.eris said...

Very true, Mike. I've pointed out a number of instances in which duopolists come right out and admit that they cannot comprehend anything other than two-party politics. See, for instance, 'None of the Above: Independents and Party Affiliation,' as well as 'The more things change.' The latter is probably my favorite example, and shows just how entrenched duopoly ideology is among our nation's political elites.