The spectacle of the U.S. elections has never been so distressing. The presidential options do not look promising, and the rest of the world will feel the impact as the so-called superpower tries to impose its failing brand of democracy. The compliant media, in turn, is obsessed with every inane (or insane) story about Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Competing over who will hit the moral bottom first, the two candidates continue to wrestle as they sink further down. Most of us have reached a saturation point about this reality show.
Why do U.S. politics lack the seriousness that is required as it impacts millions of people?
The fundamentally capitalist political ideologies of the Democratic and Republican parties offer little different or new to the public. The aims of the two parties have been essentially the same for decades. In foreign policy, U.S. expansionism and wars have continued under presidents of both parties, protecting imperialist corporate interests based on the doctrine of “American exceptionalism”.
Domestically, there is mounting evidence of increasing poverty and wealth disparity, homelessness, racism, homophobia, mass murders, among other problems.
The two parties have been incapable or unwilling to solve those problems, which have gotten worse over time. During his visit to Cuba last March, Obama candidly said, “There are still enormous problems in our society.” He went on to list some of them: “economic inequality; the death penalty; racial discrimination; wars abroad”. He continued, “We do have too much money in American politics”, and “We do have challenges with racial bias in our communities, in our criminal justice system, in our society.”
He failed to mention perhaps the most crucial problem that affects U.S. society: the apathy and disengagement from the political process by the majority of the population. There is no substantial political conversation among Americans, except that of professional politicians and analysts who speak mostly among themselves. Engaging in elections every four years does not build the kind of awareness necessary to produce change.
Over time there has been a determined process by the establishment to remove every possible ideological divergence from that of the two traditional parties. Independent popular expressions such as the Occupy Movement or even a mainstream Bernie Sanders have never been allowed to flourish and materialize as real alternatives. Two of the four presidential candidates in the current election, Gary Johnson of the Libertarians and Jill Stein of the Green Party, have been mostly ignored by the status quo.
As the corporate media focuses on personal character traits, electors are distracted from the real political issues. It can be said that the party primary process was more interesting, thanks mostly to the presence of the more critical Sanders.
This type of apparent democracy, centred on the persona of the candidates and their stunts, is not new, albeit more dramatic and theatrical this time. There is no real political ideology in the two parties, only ambitious personalities who can easily be targeted as individuals. This is now evident as some Republicans turn away from their contentious candidate. Without real platforms to offer, candidates turn against each other with accusations and trivial talk, which are broadcast as news items by the media.
A two-party system that does not present distinct ideologies does not constitute a democracy. A democracy must be a living process that feeds on new ideas and challenges, with the full and continuous participation of the people who are actively involved for the benefit of all in society. This kind of democracy does not happen spontaneously but must be encouraged and built.
Without political variety, U.S. society is becoming diseased with political inbreeding. An internal economy deformed away from social spending and towards military spending, an irrational foreign policy of domination, and the insanity of a presidential campaign that does not even offer any realistic solutions, are the visible symptoms of an unhealthy and decaying society.
The “cure” can only be placed in the hands of Americans who must eagerly adopt other socially-oriented political options and vigorously force their national leaders to be receptive to ideological innovation.