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The State of American Politics

November 8, 2010

In one of our recent sections, we discussed an article from the New York Times: “The State of Liberalism” by Jonathan Alter.

Here is the link to the article: http://www.nytimes.com/2010/10/24/books/review/Alter-t.html

In his article, Alter discusses the disadvantages liberalism in America faces.  He claims “Liberals are also at a disadvantage because politics, at its essence, is about self-interest,” (Alter, “The State of Liberalism”).  This Hobbes-like stance on American politics along with the results of the 2010 midterm election reveal the flaws within the political system of the United States.

First of all, this basic idea of self-interest demonstrated by Hobbes closely aligns with republican or conservative ideals today.  Often times the right wing will simply refute leftist reforms simply out of self-interest.  This is evident in the quest for a solution to the health-care crisis in America.  While President Obama and a democratic legislature attempted to put together health reforms, republicans often wadded down the legislation with amendments, reducing the effectiveness of the original reforms.

Continually, as is the nature of American politics, whenever one group is helped, another is hurt or angered.  Not all groups can be pleased.  This has been the primary problem faced by President Obama.  He attempts to make progress without alienating any of his wide-ranging support.  This being impossible, his support lessened while progress was less than anticipated.  Of course, republicans jumped all over this to criticize the president.  The 2010 midterm election demonstrated this, as the republicans took the house and gained seats in the senate.

Once again, the legislative branch and the executive branch oppose each other.  This has happened before, most recently at the end of George W. Bush’s term.  Now the second half of Obama’s term will also become stagnate, and in the 2012 election, republicans will criticize his lack of progress.

In reality, it is they who should be blamed for the lack of progress.  As seen with tea-party republicans, who simply criticize reforms without offering solutions, conservative political tactics reveal the true flaw in American politics: the general public, on average, cannot form their own opinions on multiple, substantial issues.  For example, many conservatives (and liberals) align with politicians due to one moral idea, such as abortion, instead of evaluating their economic and political agendas.  I’m not arguing for an end to democracy, I’m asking for the public to be more conscious of their decisions.  Unfortunately, this might be an impossible demand.

One Comment
  1. aracontrol permalink
    November 8, 2010 3:20 AM

    When you think about it, it is pretty said how many people feel forced to vote for one candidate based on one aspect of the candidate’s platform. This forces American’s to continue voting more based on the party and its platforms, as opposed to the candidate themselves. Many youth today find themselves fiscally conservative, but socially liberal – however the US’s two party system has prevented the actual elections to be based on individual’s platforms, but rather party platforms. The candidates really only hold a face for the party – mostly all candidates of the same party have an entirely same platform – it is only the face that distinguishes them.

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