Promise people that you will do whatever your pollsters tell you they want. Once in power, do whatever it takes to stay there. This is the sly principle of the politics of elite domination that characterizes the present so-called “two-party” system.
Elitist peddlers of socialism often deploy the rhetoric of unity and/or solidarity in their efforts to beguile the multitude. But when it comes to action, they implement an understanding of politics that actually requires (and therefore aims to perpetuate) the fragmentation of the body politic. This is particularly true of the coalition building political model that has been typical of the Democratic Party since the New Deal era. With promises of patronage and special favors, the party induces differing groups to work toward the common goal of winning government power.
The elite manipulators of the party system select (or co-opt) leaders for these groups, then play them off against one another. Much like the owners of a rigged casino, they allow each group to see itself as the victor just often enough to sustain the false hope that keeps them on the premises. But they never allow any group or combination of groups to score wins that give them sufficient chips to challenge or interfere with the elite’s exclusive control of the house.
The supposed unity of these groups is a tinseltown façade. Moved by the same lust for power, they end up playing on the same premises – but they are not intrinsically bound together in any way. They have a common interest in the same external commodities (money and power), but otherwise they retain their radically different purposes and identities. Like the gamblers in a casino, they keenly hunger for victory. But beyond this they have in common no sense of the good to be achieved by it. Though they form a community of sorts, it exists as an incidental consequence of the opportunity for abstract gain fabricated by the gambling enterprise.
While loudly proclaiming their opposition to the elitist Democrats’ socialist approach to government, the elitist Republicans have for some time simply accepted and acted on this New Deal understanding of politics. To be sure, two parties profess to build their coalitions on what appear to be different premises. The Democrats use tax receipts to fund government programs that put their partisans in a position to amass power for themselves indirectly, by expanding and manipulating the government’s direct control over the redistribution of national resources. On the other hand, the Republicans manipulate the government’s indirect control over the distribution of national resources through the tax rates, which determine how much control people retain over the use of their income. In this way, the GOP protects the gains its partisans directly amass through their ostensibly private enterprises.
In this respect, the two parties are like rival factions of an organized-crime syndicate. The Democrats devise government activities that are like different rackets that they divide into tax-funded territories. Then they parcel out control and distribution of the budgets for these territories among the different groups working to maintain the party’s governmental power base. The Republicans, on the other hand, use government office to establish a protection scheme. In exchange for political support, they promise to shield their partisans from the excessive collections the Democrats use to fund their rackets. While the Republicans play on the public’s fear of what the Democrats will take from them, the Democrats play on its fear of what selfish Republicans will keep them from getting.
The standard Democratic Party political tactic lures their adherents with promised programs, and threatens them with “Republican” spending cuts. The standard Republican Party political tactic lures their adherents with promised spending restraints and threatens them with Democratic tax increases. Either way, the government’s potential power over national resources is being manipulated to favor the prospects of one party or the other.
The elite’s media minions encourage the public to be preoccupied with the two parties’ mock combat with one another. As a result, most people fail to notice that the definition of politics accepted by both parties gives each a stake in preserving the power position of the government; and a tacit interest in assuring the periodic success of their opponents. Government power fuels and lubricates the machinery of political control in both parties. In the form of official patronage (jobs), protection (tax provisions) or largesse (corporate and individual transfer payments) it gives them the wherewithal to energize and discipline their partisans. And without the periodic successes of their supposed opponent, what would become of the fear each manipulates to keep their supporters in harness?
For the Republicans, this ought to be deeply problematical (that is, assuming that any supporters of the GOP actually think it through). The GOP loudly proclaims its respect for the principle of limited government. Yet as long as it continues to adhere to the New Deal paradigm for politics, its behavior will reflect the perception that to survive politically Republicans must preserve the government’s unlimited potential power so that they can maintain political control by directing the actual deployment of that power in ways that benefit their friends and harms their opponents.
The Republican Party’s grass-roots supporters lament the inconsistency between the party’s election rhetoric and its actual performance. They ask in frustration why GOP candidates who pledge fiscal discipline become GOP legislators who practice the same old tax-and-spend, spend-and-spend, borrow-and-spend insanity. The answer lies in the contradiction between the party’s pretended view of responsible government and its irresponsible practice of cynical New Deal politics.
During the opening session of the newly elected House of Representatives, the members read aloud the Constitution of the United States. Who will notice that it makes no mention of parties? Will they remember that its provisions were framed in light of an understanding of politics that sees beyond the common lust for money and power? Will they recall the understanding that makes the principle of right, endowed by their Creator, the common good that unifies the American people, and that is supposed to make of us an example fit to substantiate the hope of decent community for all of humankind?