The New Dichotomy of Politics: Big Money vs. Populism

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For decades in this country we’ve been reaching a more and more partisan situation. It’s more important if you’re left or right than anything else. Whatever color you identify with is who you vote for from local to state to national elections. We’re starting to see a new dichotomy emerge though as evidenced by the election of Donald Trump, the movement pioneered by Bernie Sanders, and the frustration with partisan cable news. The new dichotomy of establishment and big money interests vs. Populism is starting to take the stage. I’m not saying that the right vs. left idealism is going to die but rather that something else equally as important is arising. Instead of having a straight line continuum, we’re going to start seeing a matrix of decision making. As I wrote in my recent post on Ranked Choice Voting the category of Independent is bigger than either Republican or Democrat when it comes to voters. These voters are the ones who decide elections and they are more concerned with things that actually matter than partisan bickering. While the recent Democratic Primary contest showed democrats aren’t quite on-board with the new movement it is coming nonetheless.

The largest reason Donald Trump won the 2016 election was the fact that he isn’t a politician and that he called out cable media. Recent polls have shown that a majority of Republicans do not trust mainstream media, no wonder since so much of the media is hard blue and it shows. Aside from that fact though people on both sides have been getting fed up with politicians. I can only explain the nomination of Joe Biden as the masses who are influenced by whatever their television says. As time goes on though we will start to see this cable news media grip weaken as the younger generations who don’t watch or put as much weight into those sources start to carry the elections. Additionally, we see anti-establishment candidates such as Bernie Sanders, Tulsi Gabbard, and Andrew Yang taking big stages on the left. In other words, the distrust in the media and career politicians isn’t unique to the right but is also shared by the younger left. It’s only a matter of time before both sides are looking for candidates that don’t just pander to hyper-partisanship but actually care about the people. Enter the new dichotomy.

While a lot of establishment democrats give lip-service to these problems, rarely do they act on it and if they do they often do a terrible job.

There is definitely still a strong base of voters who seem to favor the old way of doing politics. Some that will even stick up for upper-class rights even though they themselves aren’t part of that class. I contribute that to a left-over social and mental disease that hails from the ideas of Reaganomics. Essentially the idea that cutting taxes for the rich will stimulate the economy, create jobs, and allow the profits to trickle down. Of course, we’ve seen this tried and fail spectacularly but that hasn’t stopped the idea from transmitting to and around those who weren’t affected by the negative outcomes or those that stick to the idea that “success shouldn’t be punished” while simultaneously ignoring the day-to-day economic crisis millions of Americans live in and the unequal opportunities that so many people face. That, of course, is speaking before the pandemic where these problems were just amplified and brought to a bigger light. While a lot of establishment democrats give lip-service to these problems, rarely do they act on it and if they do they often do a terrible job. This has most likely stifled this movement of the new dichotomy emerging on the left as so many think they were already on the side of populism while remaining completely ignorant to the reality of neoliberal politics that favor big money behind the scenes.

As the new wave of democrats emerges slightly late we will start to see people considering whether a candidate truly has the interests of the people at heart over big money. I would bet in 10 years when given the choice between a candidate that is on the left that seems to be establishment, like a Joe Biden, and a candidate on the right that may not agree on certain social issues but has a track record for and talks about helping the people at large, a typical democratic voter will step to the other side in favor of populism over partisanship. This isn’t to say that left vs. right voting is dead as the ideological differences between the sides are still relevant and will live for a long time. However, it is to say that another value is and will continue to emerge that will be equally, if not more, considered when picking a candidate to support. Wealth inequality has gotten too bad, the divide between the rich and poor, the gap in quality of life that is experienced in the same country between two people who work just as hard but had different opportunities and/or were born in a different neighborhood has grown too wide. The corruption has become too clear.

The only thing standing in our way is apathy generated by a defeated attitude.

It gives me hope to see a movement led by a younger generation caring so much about political issues as historically speaking the younger generation is often uninvolved. I am part of this generation and can only hope that this passion for change, equal opportunity, and a quality of life that can be afforded to all but is currently being hoarded will continue to grow and evolve without being corrupted. The only thing standing in our way is apathy generated by a defeated attitude. So many of my friends aren’t involved in politics because they think corruption is unbeatable. Who’s to blame them? The track-record of our representatives sticking up for us over the past few decades is abysmal. If we are to bring this new movement, to accentuate this new set of values, however, we must overcome this apathy. We must give it all we got to bring this change. We must show that the value of valuing the people is important to the people and fix our democracy to truly represent us again and it starts with this new dichotomy.

We grew up in a world where we saw right vs. left, red vs. blue, republican vs. democrat but these values are starting to appear abstract as the curtains are falling to reveal what is actually going on in D.C. Both sides have been valuing big money interests over the people for far too long. We haven’t had true representatives in ages and the people are starting to wake up to this. I think we will start to see this shape our politics in the coming times and we’re all the better for it. In a time of truly depressing candidates and in a crisis where our representatives are doing the bare minimum they can to, as Krystal Ball said, stave off the pitchforks, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. The movement is present and growing and it’s up to us to keep that momentum moving in the right direction. The metaphorical pitchforks are coming in the form of civil democratic reform. Ranked Choice Voting, term-limits, and Universal Basic Income are starting to be favored by a majority. These are non-partisan issues but instead populist ideas that every average citizen can get behind. These are policies that will help our day-to-day lives actually improve. All this to say, hold on to hope. Good times have a large potential to be very near, we may simply be experiencing a last resurgence and display of an old, dying way before true change comes.

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