Recently, politics in America has evolved at times into a crudely absolutist yelling match. Although politics has never been for the tame of heart, it goes without saying that many people, from academics to everyday observers, have noticed a change in America’s political tone.
When one observes the difference in style between a political TV show from 25 years ago and one today, it’s apparent that debate in a logical manner has now taken a backseat to the caricature permeating much of today’s political theater. The attitude has evolved into a “win at all costs” mindset. However, if winning has become everything recently, who’s really winning the spoils? Are the winners the American people as a whole, or just a subgroup of America?
As America becomes enamored with division, we’ve become factionalized and Balkanized rigidly along lines promoted by political players. Repeatedly we’re told the “other side” is either almost unfit to lead, or will quickly lead America to an imminent decline. The dogmatic language that party machines, political players, and talking heads use to rally the masses of their party often infers that the “other side” may be subverting America.
Where does the truth lie? Is one side of the political aisle always virtuous and good, while the other always totally bad and malevolent? And if this is true…which side is right?
Historically, the beauty and strength of America has resided in how our Founding Fathers used self-evident and apparent truths to formulate the intricately powerful documents that allowed us to thrive for over 200 years. When one looks at the fragile history of nations, the American experiment till recently has been a resounding success.
A main reason America has been a success is because there’s been a theoretical basis that dissenting ideas should be respected. Yes, over the years there have been clear winners and losers. However, our checks and balances always gave us the ability to look to the whole of America as greater than the sum of its parts. In line with this, our checks and balances have historically given hope to those who lost that someday their grievances would be aired.
Nowadays…the win at all costs political mindset promotes a strong sense of alienation with those that lost. This sense of division then creates an incentive for the losing side to retaliate against the other side when they hold the keys of power. Obviously, today’s heightened rivalry between political parties can promote an erosion of America’s cherished checks and balances.
As children of the Enlightenment, our Founding Fathers realized that checks and balances offset mankind’s historic tendency to search for an absolute truth that could be used as pretext for exerting absolute control over fellow human beings. Being of this era, they also realized that religious freedom was important since many Americans escaped absolutist religious persecution in Europe.
In looking to harness the power of apparent truth and common sense, our Founding Fathers realized the best way to work towards a more perfect union was to realize that checks and balances controlled man’s imperfections. In a sense, they believed the path to perfection lie in devising a system that checked the power of absolutist thought to take hold.
Ironically, when one flashes forward to today, we see absolutist dogma rising in America’s political sphere. This dogma threatens America’s resolve.
On economic terms, the recent past has seen both political parties attack each other for being either too Free-Market or too Socialist. Politicians being what they are, many aren’t honest that perhaps a more accurate assessment of our economic system now is Corporatism. Some economists predicted Corporatism as an economic model years ago as an outgrowth of Free-Market Economies blending with aspects of Socialism.
Unfortunately, the term Corporatism can connote to some that all corporations are inherently bad. In a nutshell, since corporations are America’s dominant business model, it’s hard to conclude all corporations are inherently bad. In many ways, the corporate model is incredibly productive and efficient.
When one identifies negative aspects of Corporatism, it’s because some major corporations exert powerful influence on governments. This factor, and the fact that corporate power seems to be growing due to globalism, is what causes concern.
Political dogma being what it is, most political players aren’t truthful about Corporatism since it upsets their ability to demonize the other side. However, truth be told, many political players are aware of Corporatism.
For example, many leading Republicans who championed the cleansing effects of Free-Markets and deregulation were strong supporters of the Bank Bailout that ran counter to Free-Market theory. Some may call the bailout an example of Corporatism. On the flip side, Democrats who claim corporations control Republicans aren’t honest about how many Democrats also support America’s finance corporations in addition to other large corporations.
Although recent Supreme Court activity has solidified corporate power and personage, it’s not well known that corporate personage dates back to the late 1800’s. Ironically, when one looks to the early days of America and how government then could dissolve corporations, one realizes how corporate power has grown.
In addition to economics, there are other areas in modern America that reflect how political dogma can lead to confusion. Because of this, many of us who love America are concerned. We worry that if current trends continue, America could lose some of the checks and balances that made it unique.
2 thoughts on “The Dogma of Modern American Politics”
Once again Perry is spot-on. It is such a shame that our political systems and parties have sunk to such a low level of meaning and value.
Thx for the comment RC. Yes, although politics has always been intense, it seems if current trends continues, that it may become even more difficult for the average person to make sense of the political process in the future. True debate, unencumbered by dogma, holds the key to political engagement. The popularity of ballot measures gives us a glimpse as to one of the more positive aspects of the current political process. Interestingly, the role of politicians is greatly reduced by ballot measures.