In recent years there have been great swathes of discontent with the political party system of the United States. This is hardly surprising, given that each ‘administration’ appears to move from one catastrophe to another. Rather than realising that the ultimate problem is centralised, heteronomous control of the lives of millions of people, those same millions cling to lofty dreams of ‘reform’ with the hope of ‘fixing’ a ‘broken’ political system.
I for one think that political systems work ‘better’ than they ever have before – the degrees to which people are watched, controlled, threatened (whether explicitly or implicitly) and aggressed against – by states and the benefactors of state largesse – have never been as pronounced as they are now. Yes, that is correct, this is what a ‘working’ state is meant to do. This is the cancerous trend of a heteronomous system, and this tumour has been at its largest and most malignant in recent times. Concurrently, this also seems to be a time when disillusionment with politics is at an all-time high.
Of course, when most speak of their ‘discontent’ with the system, they speak of their unhappiness that the policies of the state in question are not matching up to their values, or to the promises the politicians previously told them that constructed the imagined ideal future state in their heads. As I have said before, heteronomous constructs do not exist to serve the autonomy of the mass of people, indeed they cannot without threatening the very existence of the state construct.
In the United States, the two-party ‘duopoly’ has taken much of the blame for these troubles. Indeed, it is the structure of the party system that has taken the primary blame, rather than the inherent values of this heteronomous system and the individuals who endorse it, in themselves. A reform to the party system that would allow the introduction of a strong ‘third-party’ is supposedly a solution to the ills bred by heteronomy. As if yet another carbon-copy construct with a different colour scheme will emancipate the billions of people on this planet from their servitudes.
Many other states throughout the world have multi-party systems, and a majority of those work as ‘coalition’ governments. All this does is expose and prove the lack of real differences between people who operate in political parties, and the fact that they can clearly be defined as belonging to a separate ‘political class’. The kings and queens of old had more in common with each other than the subjects they ruled over. The same is true of today’s political class, and any expectation that a new party would be different is naïve in the extreme.
This desire – to hold on to the system and hope to reform it – is driven by fear; fear of the unknown, and indeed, in many cases, the ‘unthinkable’. Further, giving into the fear gifts oneself an easy to identify problem which can be ‘fixed’ whilst maintaining essentially the same paradigm. There is also a question of self-responsibility; it is much easier to pin one’s hopes on the actions of another, rather than the actions of oneself. Thus, if failure arises, it is the fault of the politicians who promised so much, and provided so little, rather than the average person who merely is required to cast his or her vote. Thus, on one level the urge to vote is not drawn from a sense of belief in politics, but by the unspoken knowledge that by casting a vote they also cast away their responsibility. Supporting ‘electoral reform’ is merely a further attempt to delude oneself, should the act of casting a vote not be enough to cast away their sense of responsibility for their actions.
Another problem – as I see it – is youth. Generally, the very young see themselves as all-knowing idealists, believing they are autonomous in both mind and body, yet align themselves to the goals and trends of others with greater ease than their elders. At the very least, most elder people have experienced political disappointment – and whilst it invariably (and sadly) tends to lead to a sense of defeatist conservatism, it does however tend to hold them back from ever more enthused adventures with political parties and figureheads. Youth votes were decisive in propelling Barack Obama to the United States Presidency, and those youths will in time become the elders of the future, despairing from their disappointment with him. And so the process by which the defeated individual shuffles from wild-eyed idealism to disappointment, present since mass politics began, continues unabated.
A new party isn’t going to save you. A new leader isn’t going to save you. Only you can save you.