The US 2018 US Mid-Term Elections is shaping up to largely be another “no issues” electoral contest. Considering mid-term elections lack the central figures and their fight for the Presidency, most mid-terms do not have a unifying theme. Democrats and the almost forgotten Never-Trumpers on the Right, of course, hope to make Donald Trump, his Administration, and his cronies the central issue of the 2018 mid-terms, but Donald Trump is not an issue. Donald Trump is an elected political figure and the entrenched political option. Given Trump’s consistently low approval ratings and controversial ways, Democrats may well achieve victory over Donald Trump’s Republicans. Just the fact that Donald Trump is a Republican and a candidate is running as a Republican may well be enough to ensure that candidate’s defeat. It is an unfortunate reality, because the Democratic choices are not necessary better options than the Republicans choices and vice versa.
As yet another “no issues” election season, the 2018 Mid-Term Elections are about who controls what part of government. From a national perspective, the 2018 elections are primarily about control of the US Senate and the US House of Representative as well as the Executive branches of the States and a handful of major cities. Outside of a few independent candidates, 2018, like most US elections, is a bipolar contest between Republicans and Democrats over political power. Those who hold sway over these two political parties and those whose political interests are served by the agendas of both are the true beneficiaries. Some are the billionaires whose fortunes fuel the campaigns of candidates on both sides of the aisle while others are the heads of industry and public officials in key positions. The influence of these special interest groups has become the central concern of all US elections. The “debates” of almost all US elections can be reduced to a simple equation: this party should control government and that party should not, because the fist party caters to this special interest group’s interests and the other does not.
In truth, political analysts should not be able to give a “national” analysis of mid-term elections that goes beyond how much of the Federal government each political party is expected to control. Every election should be about the local and State issues local voters face. Voters should be choosing between two or more candidates who hope to represent their interests and views in government. Because elections are about who controls government instead of the issues, voters are being asked to choose between the views of the Republican Party and the Democratic Party as national entities. Consequently, their “choices,” which are generally limited to two options at best, are not truly representative of their views and interests. For this reason, voting largely serves to legitimize the ill-democratic process that delivers victorious candidates into office, which strengthens their political party’s claim to power while depriving constituents of the representation democracy promises to give citizens.
Furthermore, the fact that Republicans and Democrats share a monopoly on political power is not necessarily a problem. Some people are lifelong Republicans and others are lifelong Democrats. The problem is not necessarily that voters can only pick between a Republican and a Democrat. The problem is that Republicans and Democrats more and more represent their parties instead of their constituents. To make matters worse, there is no longer any defining characteristics of either party. Republicans will claim Democrats are radical liberals and Democrats will claim Republicans are Right-wing anarchist, among other things, yet no one can say this makes a Republican a Republican and that makes a Democrat a Democrat. Neither political party truly stands for any principles. Their issues and positions shift with whatever concern is drawing the greatest amount of attention. When people vote Republican or Democrat, they are solely picking between the empowered and the unempowered. Whoever they pick then carries out an agenda directed by the special interests groups they are beholden to.
Since 2016, the Republican Party has been headed by Donald Trump, which means it and its affiliates have largely adopted the Trump Republican identity. Democrats are torn between the significant influence of both the Bill-Hillary Clinton duo and Barack Obama, yet they have largely espoused an anti-Trump identity. Outside of Trump’s diehard fans, much of the President’s deeply disturbing behavior and thinking has placed the Republican Party on a frightening trajectory. Republicans can, of course, say something similar about the Democratic Party. In time, the Trump era may well be a temporary shift in the Republican identity and Democrats may well redefine themselves to push beyond the dirty Clinton politics that rules the actions of their elected officials. It will not, however, matter what these political parties become so long as they continually fail to represent the American People. To change things, candidates need to start running on the issues that impact their constituents the most, instead of “I’m not the other guy.”
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