Looking at the current state of our country, the recession we are in, the debt we are collectively facing, the status of our economy, our unemployment rate, our environment, our failing government, and the way all of these factors act upon one another, we have to wonder if all of these factors are being caused by the drastic separation of the Democratic and Republican parties. The current state of the economy and the separation of the social classes may be caused by our political structure, but the failing bipartisan system is largely responsible for the inefficiency of Congress and the political animosity between citizens.
Theoretically, bipartisanship should consist of two opposing political parties who are meant to compromise. However, each party has their own plan, and it may be difficult to meet in the middle because of incompatible principles and beliefs. This stalemate is known as political gridlock, or deadlock. This refers to the state of dormancy in legislature, which is generally due to the House of Representatives and the Senate being controlled by opposing parties. This stems from the polarizing ideologies and the discrepancy in political views. Because of this polarization, the more nonpartisan voices can be silenced. The Democratic and Republican parties hold the most dominance in U.S. politics. Although we have third parties such as the Green Party, the Constitution Party, and the Libertarian Party, they hold little political authority or power comparatively to the Democrats and Republicans.
Regardless of political standing and views, it seems as if everyone is in coherence with the notion expressed by Senator John McCain, “Washington is broken”(qtd. in Zogby 47). However, it does not seem as if anyone is really ready to do anything drastic to change this. In an article titled “The President Would Rather Give Speeches About Our Problems than Resolve Them” by Mitch McConnell, the senior U.S. Republican Senator from Kentucky, we can learn about this exact issue. He explains how President Obama has been reluctant to make any fundamental changes over the past six months. He discusses the government spending of the money that we do not have, and how any tax increases will destroy the jobs we have left. He says, “This debate isn’t about President Obama and House Republicans... it isn’t about Congress and the White House... it’s about what’s standing between the American people and the future we seek for ourselves and our families” (McConnell 1).
Thinking of how politics affect our economy and the reverse, we have to understand that the people who hold the positions of power decide what to do with the money that we earn, and in turn we are required to pay a portion back to them. Zuckerman also wrote an editorial entitled, “Money In Politics: A Problem with No Easy Solutions.” Although he focuses mainly on the election of 2010 and the out-of-control campaign spending, he links this to and discusses the entire overarching concept of wasteful political spending. He talks about the money being wasted on advocacy for positions that these candidates likely have no control over, or maybe do not care as much about as we think they do. He questions our system for political financing. He says, “Our form of political financing probably goes under the heading of the evil of two lessers, but nobody has yet come up with a better solution” (Zuckerman1).
Whether it is liberal-biased media, conservative-biased media, an interview with a senator, or a seemingly unbiased solution to the problem, all of these things seem to have one thing in common: the fact that the country and the government are no longer in agreement and not much is being done to change the way the system is run. Although we may think that this turmoil is most prevalent in our country, countries all over the globe are suffering from this decline in governmental structure and efficiency. Thinking of the notion of how and why American politics have changed, especially so quickly and recently, should make us, as Americans, anxious and suspicious for the generations to come. We have to take into account our foreign allies, our military, and our economy, particularly because we have so many other countries invested in these things.
An author named Mortimer B. Zuckerman wrote an editorial in 2011 entitled, “The Bickering and Brinkmanship Must Stop." He believes that if both the Democrats and Republicans could stop arguing over petty things and get back to the way bipartisanship used to be, based on compromise and give and take from both sides, then we would be in a better place as a country. In regard to Zuckerman’s political standing, the New York Times states that, “Though not currently enrolled in a party, he is known as a Democrat. But if he ran for the Senate, it would very likely be as a Republican or independent so he could avoid a costly primary. He gives his concerns about the way our government is operating, and how there just does not seem to be enough middle ground” (Arango and Barbaro). Although Zuckerman has been a supporter of the Democratic Party for a long time, he has been critical of Obama and his choices, although he did cast a vote for him in the 2008 election. He asks this question:
Remember when Congress saved Social Security, reformed the tax code, rationalized immigration policy, and closed hundreds of military bases in the 1980s and 1990s? Now we seem to lack the core group of moderates who used to negotiate congressional compromises. They made our political system of checks and balances work in the national interest. That seems to have unraveled. Republicans moved to the right and Democrats to the left, while the political center is getting weaker and thinner. (Zuckerman 1)
Although people believe that the two parties are opposite from one another, they are more alike than we all may know. Although voters have the ease of only having to choose between two parties, it is limiting and can narrow people’s perception. They are the same in the regard that they limit our options as voters. This bipartisan system could continue to make people feel as if they have fewer options.
Considering how people believe that the political parties are rapidly growing further and further apart, the idea of being part of a third party or being registered as an Independent can seem outlandish at times. Somehow we are all expected to follow political suit, although our political views may not all line up perfectly with the two dominant parties. People may be suspicious of Third Parties. We do have this unwritten, unofficial precedent that people are expected to follow. This makes a difference in our media, our economy, our education systems, and it puts us well on our way to extremism on both sides.
It actually seems as if there has been clear dissatisfaction with the lack of change in the American government for over a hundred years, although people are unwilling to make changes. Henry George, an American writer, political economist and politician, wrote and published a piece in 1881 called Political Dangers which was included in Chapter two of his book Social Problems. He says, “The popular idea of reform seems to be merely a change of men or a change of parties, not a change of system…Our two great political parties have really nothing more to propose than the keeping or the taking of the offices from the other party” (George).
John Zogby reports that politicians lack integrity and tend to operate selfishly to advance their own careers and finances. He also discusses the problem with Washington stems from “the idea that the vast majority of politicians belong to a privileged caste, conspiring together (and often with other elites, such as media, academics and businesses) to pass laws that serve them, rather than the people.” Ironically, the politicians are critical of themselves, which they do for some ulterior motive related to self-interest.
This is not a sustainable political system. America has gotten to the point where the duality of our governmental system has infected the minds of the majority of our citizens. We are constantly being pushed and pulled to either side. There is a notable pressing necessity of “choosing a side”, and the animosity between citizens that stems from our own political, personal views. When your personal and political views do not clearly line up with either of the candidates, you are forced to make a choice between the two, or register as an Independent.
It is so common that personal animosity between citizens in this country stems from differences in political views. Politics and your views on the matter are some of the easiest things to get into an argument about, especially with someone who is supportive of the opposing party. When we rely on our government for everything, and they fail us over and over, how are we as a country supposed to act when we feel as if we are no longer being helped, but harmed?
Tim Arango, Michael Barbaro, and. "Zuckerman Is Said to Be Weighing Bid for Senate."
George, Henry. "Chapter 2-Political Dangers." Social Problems. London: K. Paul, Trench and, 1881. N. pag. Print.
McConnell, Mitch. "The President Would Rather Give Speeches About Our Problems Than Resolve Them." Vital Speeches Of The Day 77.9 (2011): 305-306. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
N.Y./Region. The New York Times, 12 Feb. 2010. Web. 11 Dec. 2013.
Zogby, John. "The Bipartisan Problem." Politics (Campaigns & Elections) 31.4 (2010): 47. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
Zuckerman, Mortimer B. "The Bickering and Brinkmanship Must Stop." U.S. News Digital Weekly 12 Aug. 2011: 27. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.
Zuckerman, Mortimer B. "Money in Politics: A Problem With No Easy Solutions." U.S. News Digital Weekly 06 Apr. 2012: 21. Academic Search Premier. Web. 19 Nov. 2013.