The myth of partisanship

Given Insight

Once upon a time in a land not so far away, there was a vast empire whose arms stretched across the globe. Although it was not a monarchy, its political class ruled with the wrath of kings and queens. They conquered foreign kingdoms in a hopeless hunt for bogeymen they called “terrorists.” They pillaged their peasants, redistributing wealth to their cronies’ “troubled assets.” They even dared to throw some of their own subjects indefinitely into a dungeon they called “Guantanamo.”

Since the kingdom was technically a constitutional republic, the rulers put on a grand political performance every four years to please the masses. But, regardless of what faction won majority rule of the parliament, the murder, pillaging and punishment continued uninterrupted to the rulers’ delight.

If you haven’t guessed by now, I speak not of some nightmarish fairytale of a distant past, but rather of our own United States of America in 2012. Today, of course, we find ourselves amid the rulers’ quadrennial performance, with four Republican knights jousting to reign over our nation’s Camelot. But, from a policy standpoint, does it really matter which one will emerge victorious?

Naturally, the candidates tell us that the fate of the world hinges on the decision, citing President Obama’s “failed policies” as a call to action. “Internationally,” most of the contenders have echoed Mitt Romney’s claim that “President Obama has adopted an appeasement strategy” abroad by not pursuing the War on Terror strongly enough and failing to counteract Iran’s nuclear program. But considering that our commander-in-chief has bombed three new countries since taking office (i.e. Libya, Pakistan and Yemen), executed terrorists like Osama bin Laden and Anwar al-Awlaki without due process and vowed to “take no options off the table” with Iran, it’s hard to see where exactly he deviates from the GOP’s jingoism.

Domestically, all four candidates have pledged to repeal President Obama’s “job killing” health care reform, popularly known as “ObamaCare.” But, again, the irony is unbearable. Both Newt Gingrich and Rick Santorum supported an individual insurance mandate similar to ObamaCare in the early nineties as a market alternative to the Clinton administration’s universal health care proposal. Even worse, Romney’s 2006 health care reforms as governor of Massachusetts served as the individual mandate’s legislative blueprint.

But, the serial hypocrisy does not stop at health care. The candidates have continually criticized Obama’s bailouts of the automotive industry, despite the fact that both Gingrich and Romney supported President George W. Bush’s Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008. I guess a little “socialism” is acceptable when the president’s a “Red” Republican!

Of course, the exception to the rule is Ron Paul. The longtime congressman must have taken an anti-hypocritical oath alongside his Hippocratic Oath as a physician because his voting record has stood steadfast throughout the years. Unfortunately, the mainstream media has conspiratorially dismissed Paul as a fringe candidate and refused to pay him proper attention, as masterfully exposed time and time again on the “The Daily Show.”

Yet despite our politicians’ blatant hypocrisy, the American people insanely do “the same thing over again” every election cycle by voting for the two-party system while “expecting different results.” Instead, we only elect the same pro-war, pro-corporatist, anti-civil liberties Republocratic Party year after year.

Worst of all, these clowns have managed to trick us into believing that there is actually a meaningful distinction between the two groups. Just ask one of your College Republican or Democrat friends — it doesn’t matter which one — and they’ll be sure to regurgitate the same narrative. Citing some social issue like gay marriage or abortion, they’ll claim that there are major differences between the two parties, blame all of the nation’s problems on the other faction and solicit you to attend their meetings to achieve world peace.

But if you kindly point out that both parties have nearly identical policies with respect to fiscal issues, like national defense, and entitlements including Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid — which collectively comprise 62 percent of the federal budget — they’ll likely skip off to their next political science class. Indeed, this myth of partisan disagreement, sustained by social issues, too often distracts the American voter from the pressing fiscal policies that are sinking our ship of state in a sea of debt.

Consequently, business as usual continues regardless of which colored knight gets to rule Camelot for four years. So get out the vote this election season, America, and rest assured that your choice has almost no influence on the policies of our partisan aristocracy.

A previous version of this column falsely stated that Newt Gingrich and Mitt Romney voted for the Troubled Asset Relief Program in 2008. In fact, they expressed support for the program.