The Crisis of The American Political System

Friday November 6, 2020 – Election Results Still in the Waiting Room

As I wait for the electoral machinery to complete its work I am struck by how this election has confirmed that we are in a deep mess with nothing in sight to set us on a more productive path.

First, there is the astonishing scene of very nearly half the votes cast being in favor of Trump and no substantial change in the legislative power of the Republican Party. What have Trump and the Trumplicans accomplished over four years?

Their one significant legislative effort was the 2017 Tax Cuts and Jobs Bill that should have been called the 2017 Trump/Trumplican gift to the rich and corporations. They barely dressed it up with the usual trickledown rhetoric about job creation.

Trump and his Trumplicans have caused the largest mass civilian casualty event in US history, the Trumplican Pandemic. You have to be absolutely clear that they caused the pandemic. The virus is an agent they have allowed to run amuck across the country. Trump and the Trumplicans didn’t just refuse to take actions proven by other countries to work, they mocked all efforts to control the virus. This is the Trumplican Pandemic.

They have carried out an inhumane policy of separating babies, small children, and teenagers from their parents at the border. Now it has been revealed that some 550 of these children may have likely permanently lost contact with their parents.

Trump has lied so consistently and egregiously that the media can barely keep up. The number of lies is now well over 22,0001. Really, I won’t go on with a depressing recital of Trump’s and his Trumplican’s immoral, self-serving, debased actions. The list would be too long and if you have not already been long revolted by this spectacle enumerating them here will not change your view.

There is something fundamentally amiss in America that even after four years of observing and suffering under Trump and the Trumplican Party that very nearly half the voters still support them and their policies.

Second, what does it say about the Democrats who attracted a bare majority (very bare, perhaps 5 million votes out of 140 million cast) in the Presidential race? Their performance in Congressional and Senatorial races was even more lackluster. They could  not make inroads into the roughly 38% of eligible voters who were not inspired to stand in early voting lines or go to the polls on Election Day.

Here we are facing:

  • a pandemic that is growing increasingly out of control. We lead the world in the number of cases despite being only 4.5% of the world population while also being one of the wealthiest. We are #1.
  • global warming is substantially unanswered
  • an economy dominated by monopolies in virtually every market, from high tech (Facebook, Google, Amazon, and Apple) to toilet paper (Proctor & Gamble, Georgia-Pacific, and Kimberly Clark)
  • the bottom 70% of the population has received only an 11% pay raise (in real terms) over the past 40 years while CEO pay has gone up 1,000%.  40% of families are so financially fragile that they can not pay an unexpected $400 bill without borrowing or selling something.2
  • our judicial/police system remains deeply racist and focused on increasing our lead as the # 1 jailer in the world. The police lead the world in the rate of killing civilians, another #1 ranking3.
  • our healthcare system is twice as expensive as our wealthy country competitors while delivering results expected for an impoverished country
  • our military is present and active on every continent and ocean. It is truly a global behemoth.  It spends more per year than the next seven countries combined. Another #1 ranking
  • …… you can doubtless add to this list

Perhaps we should look to the history of the past 40 years of political rhetoric and government policy to understand. Both the Republicans and Democrats consistently engaged the notion that little or no government with lots of market activity would solve our problems.

Perhaps we should look to the crisis of white supremacist ideology and public policy4. The country is becoming less and less “white”5.This threatens the racist narrative and policies that have been at the center of our politics and institutions since 1619. Although white people almost universally aver when called out for their white privilege, they are doubtless seeing the demographic cards being played and seeing that within 20 years the US will no longer be a white majority country.

Perhaps we should look to the rich and corporations who functionally own our government. Not much has happened in my lifetime in government at every level that does not meet with their approval. We have the government that the rich and corporations wish for us to have.

This is a depressing situation with little hope of positive action anywhere.


  1. as of 8/27/2020 the Washington Post reports 22,347 lies in 1,316 days of Trumps reign. ( He rumbles on with over 50 lies per day as of the end of October.
  4. To be clear “white supremacist ideology and public policy” refers to the persistent use of government and non-governmental force to oppress black, brown and indigenous peoples from European’s first encounters with the Western Hemisphere On to the present day.
  5. This begs the question of who is “white”. Ask an Irishman in Boston into the 1920s and ‘30s whether he felt accepted by white people?