The article I wrote last Wednesday about Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has captured a lot of attention and generated an unexpected level of passionate debates. While I am heartened that the majority of the conversation was civil and did not devolve into food fights, there is a part of me that is a bit deflated that most of the dialogue centered on Alexandria and overlooked the central point of the article. This is par for the course when it comes to our political system, we are so focused on personalities that we keep missing the bigger picture.
The highest hurdle that we must overcome if we truly are to affect change as a people is to get over our conniption to turn politics into an extension of our tribal predisposition. As long as we are splintered as a society and view justice through the lens of self instead of inclusiveness, we will keep getting a government that serves the whims of the powerful and disregards the desires of the public. This is why political parties are truly the enemy of the people, the number one interest of all parties is to sustain their influence and access as concerns of the citizenry take a back seat to institutional demands.
If we are to make a dent in the wall of corruption and nepotism that has infested our governance, we must find a way to minimize the role that parties have over all of us. I’m not breaking news when I note that political parties are an anathema to a true democracy. The founders of America, men like George Washington and James Madison, warned about the perils of factions and how parties could subvert the will of the people. James Madison discussed the evils of factionalism in Federalist #10:
“The latent causes of faction are sown in the nature of man; and we see them everywhere brought into different degrees of activity. . . . A zeal for different opinions concerning religion, concerning government and many other points . . . an attachment to different leaders, ambitiously contending for pre-eminence and power; or to persons of other descriptions whose fortunes have been interesting to human passions, have, in turn, divided mankind into parties, inflamed them with mutual animosity, and rendered them much more disposed to vex and oppress each other, than to cooperate for their common good.”
More than 200 years have passed since James Madison admonished Americans not to walk into the wilderness of factionalism, sadly, we have become the exact society that warned us to not become. We keep having attachments to leaders as we turn people into demigods, this in turn prods our elected officials to contend for pre-eminence and power instead of serving the needs of the public. The folly of mankind makes rational thinkers seem like prophets, Madison was only speaking common sense when he detailed how a people divided into parties are easily inflamed with mutual animosity and oppress each other instead of cooperating for the common good.
We have devolved into the abyss of identity and ideology to such an extent that we no longer seem capable of having the imagination to try anything different that deviates from the course that we have always been on. We are given ballots that are rigged to ensure the victory for either a Democrat or a Republican and virtually guarantees the exclusion of anyone who can truly shake up the system. Each election comes and goes with the citizenry being sold dreams of a new day only for us to wake up to the continued nightmare of the status quo. There is a reason why the majority of Americans no longer participate in this farce we call democracy, rational people refuse to “vote” for which of the lesser bully will punch them in the nose.
Sadly, this insidious duopoly comprised of corporate courtiers will continue to flourish as long as there are enough people who are willing to put logic at bay and let their emotions guide their decisions. Politics has become a sport where people pick sides not based on policies but strictly on the basis of personalities and tribal instincts. The article I wrote about Ocasio-Cortez was not a condemnation about her, it was a critique of a system that is dependent on moneyed interests and driven by two factions that are not responsive to the needs of the people.
Policies and legislation are not enacted by the individual votes of politicians but based on consensus within the individual parties. If you take away the hot button issues that serve to divide us, at the core, both parties are identical. When it comes to endless wars, wealth transference from the masses to the 1%, the needs of Wall Street at the expense of Main Street, Democrats and Republicans work in concert to further the interests of the oligarchy while sticking a shiv in the rest of our backs. This is what happens when both parties are controlled by the donations (read extortion) of the wealthiest among us, the votes of a million people are nullified with the check of one billionaire. The existence of the parties makes it easier for the gentry to have a near monopoly on policy while the rest of us bicker over politics.
This is why Alexandria’s victory was actually a step backwards. More and more Americans are waking up to the lies of both political parties, but each time we take a step towards liberation, too many are drawn back by optics and rhetoric. As people noted in the previous article, I do not know Alexandria nor have I interviewed her personally, she might be an amazing woman who deserves to be commended. But that doesn’t take away from the fact that she has joined a party and a system that is wholly malevolent, she will be serving the needs of the party and advancing the cause of the status quo. No politician is greater than the institution that he or she serves, stating this is not defeatism or cynicism, this is the reality of the political sham that we have before us. Click To Tweet
The only reason there has yet to be a mass insurrection and why the duopoly seems immovable is because politics has become our national opioid. Wedge issues are thrown as red meat to a public that has become fixated on the reality show of clowns in Congress and a jester in the White House. While we are busy staring at mannequins and arguing about red or blue window curtains, beyond the public conscience, both parties are being driven by the dictates of multinational corporations and the demands of the neo-aristocracy. Laws are literally written by lobbyists and guided by the donations of the plutocracy. The very existence of the two political parties has made us irrelevant and turned us into observers.
As I’ve noted on countless occasions, a ballot restricted to two equally malicious parties is not a democracy but a tyranny of false choices. The duopoly is a pox from both factions upon all our homes. The issue with our governance is not the people who are in it as much as it is a system that encourages loyalty to party and dependency upon the wealthy above the pressing needs of the greater public. We live in a nation that has more fortunes than most countries combined yet with each successive year, more and more are being swallowed up by financial anxieties or poverty while a few live like sultans. The wealth gap is economic terrorism that is a byproduct of the two-party racket.
How many times will we fall for the same trick before we say enough. Both sides keep getting duped by new faces with new rhetoric only to realize a few years later that Lucy yet again pulled the football under their legs. Until we stow away our unhealthy addiction to politics and the way we worship people we see on TV, we will keep getting the government that treats us as political props and nothing more. This requires us to discuss politics without anger and animosity; stop taking bullets and unleashing infernos for people none of us really know. Focus on policies and while we are at it, stop voting for parties and support people based on ideas.
Voting between Democrats and Republicans and expecting change is like swiping on Tinder hoping to find love::
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Originally from Ethiopia with roots to Atse Tewodros II, Lij Teodrose is a former community organizer whose writing was incorporated into Barack Obama's South Carolina primary victory speech in 2008. He pivoted away from politics and decided to stand for collective justice after experiencing the reality of the forgotten masses. His writing defies conventional wisdom and challenges readers to look outside the constraints of labels and ideologies that serve to splinter the people. Lij Teodrose uses his pen to give a voice to the voiceless and to speak truth to power.