Special to the Tribune-Star
With today’s two-party political system, it is easy to understand why many individuals find themselves frustrated with the government in some form. Whether complaining about a stalwart Congress or debating the merit of a party’s ideology, analysis of the Democratic and Republican parties’ platforms provides puzzling results.
First, let’s examine the Democratic Party. Especially in the current administration, proposed legislation from Democrats seems to have one common thread — government intervention. With copious examples of the Democratic Party proposing legislation, intervening in affairs of the private sector, the debate surrounding the role of government with business seemed to be exacerbated a couple of years ago with the bailout of the auto industry. More recently, Senate Democrats proposed a bill that called for a mandate for private companies to pay employees equally, regardless of gender or race. Whether these bills are just, it is clear that the Democratic Party provides solutions to problems by exercising the power of the government.
Juxtaposed to the Democratic platform, Republicans pride themselves in removing bureaucratic red tape. Republicans call for deregulation and want streamlined processes, claiming this will help empower populations to achieve success. Recently pushing for bills removing restrictions on the mining industry, or pushing for expanded oil drilling rights, the Republican Party seeks to diminish the government’s influence over private business.
Examining these two philosophies, it seems obvious why the United States has long since operated under a two-party political system. On the one hand, citizens may put their trust in government to handle a myriad of problems; on the other, citizens may seek representation in Congress which will seek to remove government intervention from everyday life. It seems reasonable. That is, until policies other than economic ones are discussed.
The Democratic Party, with its stringent government policies, seeks to expand freedoms and expectations of minorities, calling for less strict immigration policies or allowing same-sex couples to marry. This seems to diminish the role of government. Why does the party that seeks to expand the federal government’s influence seek to weaken its influence over immigrants and other minorities?
Republicans, however, who so often claim to be threatened by the government’s influence, have proposed many bills creating much stricter immigration policies, allowing for easier deportation methods. Additionally, Republicans seek to expand the role of government in personal lives by strengthening marriage legislation by calling for federal restrictions, or a federal definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, not only blurring the lines of church and state, which was instituted by the Constitution, but also setting a precedent for government intervention within the walls of a household.
What does all of this mean? It means that as a supporter of civil rights, a person must then also support strong government influence in economic policy. It means that as someone who desires little government intrusion, that person must also support legislation that disenfranchises millions of Americans.
Because of the strength of the two parties, many Americans find themselves frustrated because members of Congress are not truly representative of a majority of citizen’s views. Republicans refuse to support a candidate that may be fiscally conservative, but desires social change, while Democrats disavow candidates that desire not only economic influence by the government, but also support traditional values. With this paradox paired with a congressional inability to reach reasonable compromises, it is no surprise that politics have reached a point of intense polarization, barring any comprehensive reform to be enacted.