Political System Crash

Elections No Longer Matter

We're caught in a trap. We can't walk out. With apologies to Elvis, his song about a failed relationship applies not only to the couple he bewailed but to the relationship between the American people and the United States government. We all are in the trap, and the federal midterm elections are in November.

The two major parties have effectively eliminated all ballot box alternatives to themselves. The voters' choice lies between Patriot Acts, Iraqi wars and authoritarianism and Obamacares, Afghani wars and authoritarianism. As we now are seeing the latter takes America over the cliff more quickly in its destructiveness in economics, foreign policy and basic civil rights such as freedom of speech and choice, but the former is like taking chemotherapy to cling to life in the face of debilitating, terminal cancer: it will not cure the disease, it only prolongs the misery. Washington is out of control. The rate of its accumulation of power and its irresponsible exercise of it in dysfunctional policy is accelerating. Graph it, and the curve has almost reached its vertical end point. There is nothing beyond that but a train wreck.

One common response to this maddening situation is to buy time to delay the crash by putting the right into power with no confidence it will perform any better than it has in the past, and regardless of a zero expectation of faithfulness pray for a miracle that will change the government's course. The obverse of that is to crash the system sooner by keeping the left in power so America can start rebuilding sooner. Neither offers any promise of stopping the runaway train or switching it to a different track. Both are status quo outcomes, and either will preserve the status quo.

A response that tries to change the equation is that of the tea partiers: keep faith in the basic system and try yet once again to reform it. That movement is attempting to avoid the Perot paradigm by working largely within one of the two major parties. The result will be one of two alternatives: the political rebellion will be coopted, turned and lead into a dead end by a leader repeating the 1990's trajectory of Gingrich, one who panders to the troops with revolutionary rhetoric to keep them in line while betraying their movement to the establishment; or it will rightwardly radicalize the Republican Party in an aping of the leftward radicalization of the Democratic Party by Dean, KOS, Democratic Underground, ACORN and the gaggle of special interests that took it over during Bush the Younger's administration. That, too, leaves America caught in the trap, just with a starker dichotomy in the choices, which is to say with heightened division in the country and wilder swings of the pendulum each election cycle. The crash is not averted.

The third way is to walk out of the house of mirrors. Become apolitical. Put your thought, energy, time and effort into discovering and creating a way for yourself and your own people to survive the train wreck toward which the political system is driving the country. More Americans than ever are considering leaving the USA for less authoritarian lands with less threatening governments. One recent survey concluded that an astounding 96% of us have thought about it. Voting rates continue to decline as, every election, more Americans are doing things other than going to the polling places, putting their time into activities they have concluded are more promising for their own future than is participation in sophisticated political machinations designed to keep the people on board the train while avoiding any genuine change in its route or operation.

That is where we Americans now find ourselves. Our real choice is no longer between two exclusive, establishmentarian parties in the by now laughably futile hope that putting one or the other of them behind the engine's levers will bring actual change, it is between continuing to ride down the rails with them or looking for a way to get off their careening train before it runs out of track. It rapidly is coming down to a matter of everyone for himself. It may already be there.

If you are an American voter, think about how you wish to do your civic duty this November. It is up to you and you alone, but consider that casting your vote for candidates of the two major parties no longer is voting for change, it is merely supporting a corrupt political system that has stripped you of genuine choice. Voting against whomever you hold to be "the bad guys," or for those presented to you as "the good guys," may no longer be the right decision. Doing that has not lead to meaningful reform in the recent past, and there is no reason to think the parties have altered their habits now.

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Comments 7 comments

Spear 6 years ago

As usual, a concise and to-the-point analysis. You should get published in local/regional papers so more can read your stuff.


Neil Sperling profile image

Neil Sperling 6 years ago from Port Dover Ontario Canada

Great job!


trevorhicks profile image

trevorhicks 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California, USA

You have a very high understanding of political system in the US. Hope many will read so that they will get informed by this like I am.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

Hi, I am new to your work. I have a couple questions:

1. Some historians like Rufus Fears who have studied how history repeats itself suggest we are at the point where Rome had to choose between remaining a democracy or getting an Emperor. What do you think? Is this along the lines of your Authoritarian scenario? (It has been observed that the time of these Emperors was one of great peace and happiness. Their senators, etc, had become corrupt and the middle class was suffering...)

2. How do you envision every one for themselves? I cannot imagine it, in our co-dependent world.

Thanks. I appreciate your analysis.


Attikos profile image

Attikos 5 years ago from East Cackalacky Author

Good morning, Storytellersrus, nice to meet you.

As a lifelong history buff, I agree it turns like a wheel. The reason is that people don't change, only their circumstances and tools do. We evolve primarily by adaptation, not mutation, and our patterns of behavior cyclically repeat.

The Roman republic was never democratic. Like the Greek city-states, Rome began and continued with a ruling class, the senate made up from it right up to the end when Constantinople fell. The emperors were occasionally able to accumulate enough raw power to overrule it, but they did so at their own risk. The senate more often got rid of them when they tried, usually with corporeal finality.

The US presidency today can be seen (I tend to look at it so) as a reflection of Rome's imperial office dressed in business suits instead of ermine robes. We have even reached the point at which presidents at will issue imperial decrees, though we call them executive orders and findings, without specific legislative approval, and invalidate law through a different form of decree, which we term presidential statement. Presidents now use the military as they choose without regard to either the US Constitution or congressional resolution requiring them to submit to oversight. Congress having demonstrated its inability to prevent them, they effectively have unlimited authority to raise money through debt and to do with it as they direct the agencies. There is no practical difference between today's US presidents and Rome's emperors. It's not that we are moving toward that state, we already are there. The US republic today is as dead as was Rome's when Julius Caesar was made dictator for life.

Some of the emperors instituted useful reforms, particularly by restoring value to a currency ruined by conversion to fiat form and inflation, freeing trade and industry from oppressive state control, and streamlining infrastructure. Augustus, Claudius, Vespasian, and more did all those things, with peace and prosperity usually following. As is the case with all authoritarian systems, however, there were more incompetent or corrupt rulers than beneficent ones, and their destruction over time always outweighed the improvements of their predecessors. It took Rome several centuries and the ravages of two plagues at last to fall apart, but its fall was inevitable. Its strength had been sapped by its authoritarian political system. When the western empire fell, it did so with incredible rapidity. The Vandals crossed the Rhine in 406AD. By 409 everyone knew Rome was doomed. Today, the world is much smaller and moves much faster. I don't believe it will require three years to get from our Rhine crossing, whatever that may turn out to be, to the collapse of the US empire.

The Romans did retreat into a state of every man for himself. It was that or die. Those who could got out of Dodge, building what were in effect family fortresses through the countryside. Their families formed the foundation of the later European landed aristocracy.

I too have trouble imagining how that would work, but then so did they. Those with the initiative, the resources, and the good luck survived. So it will be with us.

Thanks for your thoughtful comment, Storytellersrus. I sincerely appreciate it. This article is aging now, but I'll revise it to reflect what I see as an accelerating pace in the American system's headlong dash to a cliff. You've brought the need to do that to my attention.


Storytellersrus profile image

Storytellersrus 5 years ago from Stepping past clutter

This is so excellent! You could turn your comment into a hub, in fact. I love history lessons and I am not too proud to say I did not know most of this.

And so I have more questions for you, regarding recent history. When do you think Presidents took on the role of Emperors, from the very beginning or was there a change somewhere along the line? Also, which rulers would you list as incompetent or corrupt in our American system?

When you have time... I would be happy to read a hub about these things (linked to this hub), or a comment. Thanks so much!


suziecat7 profile image

suziecat7 5 years ago from Asheville, NC

I could not agree with you more. Great Hub because it is so true.

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