MARK KARLIN, EDITOR OF BUZZFLASH AT TRUTHOUT
BuzzFlash has noted many a time that the Creation Museum in Kentucky has featured dinosaurs with saddles. Holding that evolution is a misguided theory, the creationists behind the museum exhibit attempt to show - by placing the saddles on dinosaurs - that people lived contemporaneously with dinosaurs. This, supposedly, proves that everything on earth was created simultaneously in a divine burst of benevolence.
Charles Pierce took note of this bizarre representation of something akin to a gigantic terrestrial reptile just waiting to be mounted by a cowboy. He told Truthout that it inspired his best-selling book, Idiot America. Indeed, the exhibition would have been a magical presidential visit photo op for Ronald Reagan's iconic image if the museum had been around for his years in office. Skeptics would have called it a dinosaur sitting atop a dinosaur.
However, that hypothetical Reagan-bashing image may now be replaced by another, less easy-to-depict reality: Perhaps, today, it is the two-party system in the United States that is riding the United States back into a social and economic Mesozoic Era. Even if one successfully argues that there are significant, though marginal, differences between Democratic and Republican politicians on social issues and perhaps on the environment, it is difficult to see major distinctions between the two parties on economic and foreign policy issues. (Both fall solidly in the neoliberal camp.)
Granted, the Republicans may often sound more strident and unhinged, but in the end, there is basically a consensus - as far as voting in Congress - on trumped up wars abroad and particularly on neoliberal global free trade and financial policies. Although Obama has finally broken through six years of bipartisan blather with welcome announcements on Cuba, the Keystone Pipeline and net neutrality, these developments appear to have occurred only because he is now a "lame duck." Otherwise, why didn't he make these pronouncements before an election in which the Republicans assumed full control of Congress?
Polling, for whatever it is worth, has consistently shown that most US voters support a large number of progressive policies to benefit the common good. However, the United States is also saddled with a pugnacious ignorance that is increasingly moving the nation back to an age of colonialist, oligarchical and socially fundamentalist rule.
Elections, particularly on a national level, are fought on the basis of emotional appeals - not reason, national benefit or logic. A recent article that I read asserted that rational arguments lead to conclusions; emotional appeals lead to decisions. Given the outcome of national elections - and even many local ones - are influenced primarily by television ads and pre-staged photo ops aimed at viscerally impacting voters, there is a vacuum of public policy discussion. What we are left with is government by emotional rubble. The wealthiest people - who can pay for the billions of dollars spent on campaign ads - can pull the strings in DC amid the distraction of television sensationalism.
Many people on the left are moved by the likes of an Elizabeth Warren or a Bernie Sanders (who is officially a socialist, but is part of the Democratic caucus). In the end, however, the jury is out on whether a two-party system can seriously address the pressing issues of our time, without the entry of additional parties that can command an ongoing national presence without having to resort to election appeals to the emotional vulnerabilities and biases of voters.
As of now, the two-party system has more in common with the saddle on a dinosaur in the Creation Museum than with the promise of a robust and just democracy.
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