Human beings do not like to get out of their comfort zones. We believe what we want to believe, which is usually what we have been taught to believe, especially when it comes to politics. We belong to this club or that club and we hold to them as if the perspectives the two offer us are the only perspectives there are. Republican or Democrat, over and over and over. We complain about not having anyone we would want to vote for but in the end it always comes down to Republican or Democrat.
The two parties are not opposites, they are brands. Just like Coke and Pepsi. I mean just like Coke and Pepsi.
In the United States cola comes in 2 flavors, Coke or Pepsi. 99% of all cola ingested is made by these 2 companies. But are the flavors “opposites?” No. Cola can have many more flavors, perhaps flavors you would like better than either Coke or Pepsi. But aside from that bottle of RC Cola you drank when you were 10 at your grandmother’s cookout you have never known another cola.
Because Coke and Pepsi control the distribution of soda in the United States. They control the supermarket shelves, and they control the vending machine business. (When was the last time you saw a Nehi vending machine?) For most Americans cola has no other flavor than that of Coke or Pepsi. If you ask someone what the opposite of Coca Cola is 9 out of 10 people will say Pepsi, when Pepsi is in no way the “opposite” of Coke.
Same thing with political parties.
The two “main” parties control the system and make sure there is only just enough room on the ideological store shelf for them. But they aren’t opposites. Both collectively deal with a relatively narrow bandwidth of issues, and even this has gotten tighter in recent years. But the perception of real choice is there.
So what’s the “opposite” of Republican? Democrat of course!
They are brands. Red or Blue. R or D. And it’s been like this for over a century. These are the only choices for you. That’s it—done.
It is a testament to how powerful this conditioning is that even on the congressional level there is no one other than a Republican or Democrat in the House. That no one at all from the Libertarians or the Greens or the Constitution Party or whatever is in the House of Representatives just speaks to incredible power of American political inertia. Even in these relatively low cost and local races an alternate party is typically not a viable choice.
Coke or Pepsi.
I saw this earlier today when I posted an article I wrote about Dick Cheney’s endorsement of Paul Ryan. I said that Dick Cheney should get out of the picture as I argued he had done enough to hurt the GOP and its fiscally conservative credentials.
I used to work for the GOP in another life. But I came into politics because I believed and continue to believe that government must be made smaller. When I was younger, less jaded, and before G W Bush and Company destroyed GOP conservatism, I believed the Republican Party really was committed to smaller government. Young and foolish I was.
So when I said that Cheney needed to get out of the way and that Romney and Ryan left much to be desired, I did not come from some anti-conservative stance. (Now anti neo-conservative is another thing.) Yet I knew what I was likely to get back in comments because of the level of American political conditioning.
On the one hand I knew that some of my more “liberal” readers would like that anything was said against Dick Cheney, even though I make the case that Cheney is a big government guy with a similar economic disposition to Obama.
I was right.
Likewise I anticipated that some who considered themselves “conservative” wouldn’t like that I said anything against Dick Cheney.
Even though Cheney was for expanding the government, said that “deficits don’t matter,” and is for nation building, some defend Cheney as a “conservative.” Come on!
The man is NOT a conservative and has done great violence to the small government cause.
But again, I was right. Many so called conservatives took issue with me saying anything about the big government, big spender, from Wyoming.
It’s all so frustrating.
Coke and Pepsi, until we weigh 500 pounds and our teeth rot out.