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Friday, February 15 , 2019, 1:42 pm | Fog/Mist 55º


Randy Alcorn: No One Wins with the Sloshing Sewage of American Politics

In the aftermath of last week’s midterm election, in which Republicans won majorities in Congress, the victors, as usual, are crowing about having a mandate from the people and claiming that their sweeping victory is a clear rejection of their opponents’ policies.

While both parties engage in such chest thumping whenever they have big election wins, their crushing victories are more indicative of voter frustration and desperation than of a mandate. Voters keep trying to change things for the better by replacing one party with the other.

But, when shopping for change is a choice between two parties, it’s not much of a choice. It’s like being dissatisfied with your Chevy but your only alternative is a Ford. In spite of all the marketing hype, both cars are not much different, but you succumb to the hype and hope that they are — besides you just love that new car smell.

The back and forth election victories between the duopoly parties is like sewage sloshing from one side of a cesspool to the other. It doesn’t matter which party is in power, the sewage is just as bad, and when the winds of public discontent arise once again, the sewage will be blown to the other side of the pool. The pool will never be purged of political pollution as long as voters accept a choice between only two parties. And both parties are controlled by the real rulers of America — the greedy, money-worshiping selfish interests who pour massive amounts of money into selecting and promoting candidates who will advance the economic interests of their benefactors.

It is said that all politics are local. More exactly, all politics are personal. In this latest election voters were most concerned with economic issues that directly affect them.

Politicians appeal to voters’ economic angst with catchy campaign slogans like “change we can believe in” or “take back America.” And, of course, they all say they will work to rescue the middle class and restore the American Dream for everyone.

Attributing the ups and downs of the economy to either political party or to any president is baseless, but it is an effective artifice employed by both parties to take credit or to assign blame. The economy is a massive, complex and unpredictable creature moved by millions of people making millions of individual decisions every day. Voters are misled into believing that presidents or political parties are responsible for economic conditions when, in fact, neither has a magic wand and can do little to affect how the economy will actually behave.

Nevertheless, voters cling to hopes that they can, succumbing to simplistic slogans and nebulous campaign promises, all of which are typically devoid of specifics. The Republicans, to whom the voters have just handed the keys of government, did not reveal much of a concrete agenda. They simply vilified the sitting Democrat president and denounced him and his party for “taking the nation in the wrong direction.” They did not, however, explain what is the right direction, except maybe to continue ranting about repealing Obamacare.

OK, repeal it and replace it with what? Something? Nothing? What exactly? Who and how many Americans benefit by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act and who and how many benefit if it is repealed? The basic question about health care is should it be a universal right or a privilege limited to those who can afford it?

Have Republicans answered this question? Not really, and they won’t until they check with their benefactors who will consider the economic implications of any health-care policy changes and then give their purchased politicians marching orders.

Sweeping election victories by either party are not public mandates when only a minority of the citizenry actually votes, as was the case in last week’s election. America’s political apathy is aided and abetted by the frustrating realities of gerrymandering, big money and the entrenched two-party system. More and more Americans notice that Democrats and Republicans are just different sides of the same tarnished coin, and that nothing really changes after any election except maybe which duopoly party controls government. So, why bother voting?

That more than 40 percent of Americans report no party affiliation is probably due as much to political apathy as it is to an increasing rejection of the overripe duopoly. That 90 percent of congressional incumbents are typically re-elected even though only 10 percent of the public approves of Congress’ performance indicates an endemic combination of political apathy and political ignorance among the public — perfect conditions for unresponsive and venal government.

If voters wanted to end gridlock in Congress, electing Republican or Democrat majorities to both houses might accomplish that. Why they chose Republicans, who have done nothing but obstinately constipate Congress the past four years, is explained by the sloshing sewage phenomenon.

No one should fret or celebrate too much about which party has won or lost this election. It’s just frustrated voters once again making another vain attempt to get positive change.

— Randy Alcorn is a Santa Barbara political observer. Contact him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), or click here to read previous columns. The opinions expressed are his own.

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