Something I’d intended to work into my last post (on the mess in Chicago) but neglected to was a preemptive retort to Republicans, like the guys at PowerLineBlog, whose answer to Chicago’s problems is that’s what they get for voting Democratic. How, precisely, do they think that’s going to happen? No Republicans ran in the 2014 Chicago mayoral election. And lest you think that’s an exception in Illinois 60% of candidates run unopposed, many more in some offices, e.g. the 90% of candidates who run unopposed for the state senate.
As I’ve pointed out before Illinois’s Republican and Democratic Parties have divvied the state up into safe Democratic seats and safe Republican seats. Gerrymandering is one explanation for it. Modern American politicians select their voters rather than the voters selecting their office-holders. But that’s not the only explanation. Mayoral candidates run unopposed, too. Tribune columnist John Kass calls this peaceful coexistence “the Combine”.
I think that the answer is that the operational differences between the two parties, i.e. their differences as manifest in conduct, are few. The rhetorical differences are huge but that’s an artifact, an illusion. You speak differently when you’re preaching to the choir.
At the national level both parties are interventionist in foreign policy, bestow tax benefits and lucrative contracts on their donors, knuckle under to the civil bureaucracy, have no real answers (or even beliefs) about the racial issues that continue to plague America, and support borders that are open in effect but look formidable. The primary purpose for both our political parties is incumbents remaining in office, receiving substantial compensation while in office, collecting large pensions when they leave office, and moving on to lucrative jobs lobbying their former colleagues.
Nearly every day I encounter editorials, op-eds, or blog posts characterizing Democrats as socialists and Republicans as racist fascists. Eliding over the fact that the actual fascists were socialists, if Democrats are all socialists why don’t they support more redistributive policies? If Republicans aren’t socialists, why do they continue to support policies in which the means of production, e.g. money, are controlled by the state?
If you care to look for a source for the anger that’s so much a part of the American political scene today, you need look no farther than the chasm between political rhetoric and political action.
I agree with Chesterton. It is terrible to contemplate how few politicians are hanged in this country.