“No choice, Pal.” The limited range of policy options in the US political system

In the original Bladerunner, when Deckard meets his former supervisor Bryant, he tries to refuse the mission to hunt down replicants. Bryant tells him, “In this city you’re either a cop or little people.” Deckard replies “No choice,huh?” Bryant tells him, “No choice, pal!”

The story seems to be the same for voters in the US political system of today. It is less about the cops than the powerful elites representing the rich and large corporation. With the change in media (concentration into a few corporations controlling programs and message) and especially news reporting moving from an effort to gather and report on the facts to the personality hosted opinion shows – whether on Fox or CNN and MSNBC. The primary focus of these shows is to gain and hold the users’ attention by raising the emotions of their viewers by demagoguery inspired rants or experts and facts, whatever works with the respective silos. These reenforced through the deliberate and automatically curated echo chambers of social media equally dependent on fueling the emotions to keep attention.

I am not discounting the current crisis of an extremely corrupt version of fascist conservative government, which was put in place both through an unholy collaboration with the influence of an enemy power and extreme irregularities in the election process orchestrated by conservative elites. That is simply an effort to reset the balance firmly to a more conservative position. This has gone off-track by using a Reality TV personality as presidential stand-in, while using a scripted actor, who knew his lines and could take directions, worked so well in the past.

When we look at the overall policy positions of the right and left prior to Trump we see that they are not really far apart. They appear to provide choice, but actually in the end result in very little difference. Obamacare managed to retain the near monopolies in the healthcare system without real price controls and in some ways was a boon to insurance companies and pharma. It was derived from a conservative proposal. It really did not impact the fundamental issue that healthcare is not easily affordable for large segments of the population. Insurance rates mediated by the portals are still onerously high in comparison to lower incomes. Environmental efforts moderated the impacts on environments and climate change, but they were only separate from conservative approaches by a degree and totally insufficient to fundamentally address the problem.

One of the reasons the system can be manipulated is that we do not have a popular democracy. The separation of legislative and executive powers coupled with a two chamber system, where one chamber influenced by a small part of the population can overrule the other, leads to a two party system. Our approach to elections requiring large investments leads to corruption and hidden interests. And because lobbyists hedge their bets and invest in both sides, the policy positions influenced by this are only different in the way they are expressed. Fundamentally they are not that far apart – especially when we look at real policies enacted as a result of the legislative process.

For those controlling events these false alternatives are used to keep the population divided and to some extend in fear of each other.

We do see the rise of outliers like Bernie Sanders, who was forcefully shunted aside by the apparatus in the last election even at the price of allowing a person like Trump to gain the upper hand. But when we look at “centrist” positions of the leading Democrats, they are really not far from those of “moderate” Republicans. They align to create a compromise with what is good for those in power (corporate interests and billionaires,) while being tolerable to the people.

Meanwhile the Super Majority is quite united (65% – 80% on key issues) in supporting stronger measures to effectively deal with real world problems of climate change, the cost of medical care, education, and income inequality. The latter is the elephant in the room. It is really hurting the lower income classes, young people entering the work place, and an aging population trying to retire.

Alternate models are clear and effectively implemented in Europe leading to hire levels of satisfaction and stability. They are driven by parliamentary democracies. These polities are not perfect (see the current unrest in France,) but are not likely to create the conditions threatening societal chaos as modeled by Cliodynamics (History as a Science) – overcrowding of elites and income inequality. Cliodynamics currently predicts a high level of social instability around the time of the next elections.

The one hope is in the increasing activism and participation of the younger generation and the new generation of representatives that have swept into office. They are not afraid to sweep aside the “centrist rhetoric” from the “centrist establishment” and ad hominem tirades from the right. Together with the continuing voice of Bernie Sanders it will hopefully shape the conversation of the leading centrist contenders like Kamela Harris to realize that there is real opportunity in representing the true Super Majority instead of just following the “prudent” route and wishes of the powerful liberal elites.


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