Opinion » Ted Rall

Bipartisan Contempt

Both zombie parties too stubborn to admit they're dead


Neither party gets it. They both think they won. And they sort of did. But we still hate them.

Democrats are patting themselves on the back, congratulating themselves for a mandate that neither exists--50.4 percent to 48.1 percent does not a mandate make--nor, if it were real, would be actionable.

"Republicans need to have a serious talk with themselves, and they need to change," Democratic columnist E.J. Dionne sniped in the Washington Post.

Not likely. If Republicans could change anything, it would be the weather.

"If you hadn't had the storm, there would have been more of a chance for the Romney campaign to talk about the deficit, the debt, the economy," Karl Rove told the Post. (Which leaves out the fact that the places hit hardest by Hurricane Sandy, New York and New Jersey, are not GOP states.)

"We [Congressional Republicans] will have as much of a mandate as he [President Barack Obama] will," claimed Speaker John Boehner.

The donkeys and the elephants think they're awesome. Their plan to govern America for the next four years? Keep on keeping on. Why change?

Voters are narrowly divided between the D's and the R's--because we can't decide which one we hate most. One out of three people think the two-party system is broken and complain that neither party represents their political views.

A staggering number of people are boycotting quadrennial exercises in pseudodemocracy. Despite the advent of convenient early voting by mail, Election Day 2012 saw a major plunge in turnout nationally compared to 2008. About 42.5 percent of registered voters stayed home this year.

In one of the most ignored and interesting stories coming out of Election Day, 1.5 million people voted for Libertarian Gary Johnson and Green Party candidate Jill Stein. Since Johnson and Stein were even more thoroughly censored than previous third-party candidates--denied interviews on the major networks and locked out of the presidential debates--many of these votes must have been for "none of the above."

Democrats didn't win this election. Neither did the Republicans.

Give the parties credit: They've united us in our contempt. Liberals and progressives hate the Democrats, who take their votes for granted and ignore them. Conservatives hate the GOP for the same reasons. And moderates hate both parties because they don't get along.

Since the economy collapsed in 2008, Americans have made consistently clear what their No. 1 priority was: jobs. Yet the two major parties have focused on anything but.

The Tea Party convinced Republicans to campaign on paying down the national debt. Deficits, the debt and entitlements are important--but those problems are not nearly as urgent as unemployment and underemployment. When you've lost your job, you need a new job now. Not next week. Not next year.

"Romney is not offering a plausible solution to the [unemployment] crisis," Jonathan Chait wrote in New York magazine back in June. Romney never did, and that's why he lost.

Jobs were the No. 1 issue with voters, Obama never reduced unemployment and Romney had a credible narrative as a corporate turnaround expert. By all rights, Romney should have won. But he never delivered what voters wanted: a credible turnaround plan for the terrible jobs market.

The president nearly lost to one of the worst challengers of all time, a bumbling, inarticulate Monopoly Man caricature of an evil capitalist. Democrats lost seats in both houses of Congress--this to a Republican Party whose platform on social issues was lifted from the Taliban and whose major political figures included two rape apologists.

Like the GOP, Democrats paid lip service to the economy but never put forward a credible proposal. In 2009, Obama dwelled on health care reform. Like the deficits, the health care crisis is real and important--but it wasn't nearly as urgent as the jobs catastrophe.

Four years into an existential crisis that likely marks the final crisis of late-stage capitalism, an economic seizure of epic proportions that has impoverished tens of millions of Americans and driven many to suicide, the United States is governed by two parties that don't have a clue about what we want or what we need.

Change? Not these guys. Not unless we force them to--or, better yet, get rid of them.