You can blame that son of bitch Martin Van Buren.
Yes, I’m sure we all harbor animosity for America’s eighth president, right? The guy had few achievements, but one goal he accomplished still lingers to the point of festering. Van Buren’s “longest-lasting contribution has been the two-party political system.”
So the fact that you have just two choices for president is old Marty’s doing.
You see, Van Buren moved the country away from regional political organizations and toward national groups. In his day, one party “embodied true Americanism as determined by the majority of the people,” and the other was “a much smaller, but still powerful, aristocratic party comprised of wealthy elitists and special interests.”
Hey, good thing we no longer have powerful, wealthy jerks pushing us around.
Talk about progress.
In any case, today’s political parties consist of hapless Democrats and a Republican Party “full of red-pilled freaks, clowns, carnies, scoundrels, perverts, and weirdos“—that latter description comes courtesy of Republicans themselves.
So perhaps it’s no surprise that with just two choices, many Americans feel left out of the electoral process. I’m not talking about progressives, routinely dismissed as commies who made up the mythical country of Norway to blather on about social-safety nets.
Nor am I talking about Latinos, who “feel both the Republican and Democratic parties take them for granted.”
No, I’m talking about the group that really matters: white suburban soccer moms.
These matriarchs of the cul-de-sac are pissed off about inflation, school closings, and pandemic policies. And they are glaring at Democrats and shouting, “You’ve seen what I’m capable of. I voted for a lunatic bigot once, and I’ll do it again unless you fix shit right now!”
Indeed, one suburban white woman is quoted as saying, “If you would’ve told me two years ago that I would be alienated from the Democratic Party, I wouldn’t have believed it.”
This is an odd statement, in that the rest of us find it painfully easy to believe. White suburban moms are one of the few demographics that pogo between the two political parties, and much of their support seems to come down to “which one of you is going to reinforce my privileged lifestyle, but without making me feel too racist about it?”
So these most crucial of swing voters are flirting with Republicans again. Sure, the GOP has brought us death, corruption, incompetence, economic calamity, overt bigotry, seething misogyny, sociopathic cruelty, and a loathing for democracy that has left the nation on the precipice of civil war. But Democrats want kids to wear masks. So you see how it’s a difficult choice.
Of course, Republicans have a built-in advantage, in that they are not expected to actually do anything once they are in office. They just have to keep on hating the right kinds of people.
Democrats, in contrast, have promised to “get things done to better the lives of Americans,” but it is “harder to build things than it is to break them, leaving Democrats with an asymmetrical challenge.” This asymmetry is exemplified by the fact that Democrats are floundering to pass ambitious legislation, and looking like fools when they fail, while “Republicans aren’t promising to do anything different should they return to power.”
It also doesn’t help that nobody is passionate about Joe Biden. Hell, members of his own party want him to avoid even trying to be great. When a president’s allies implore him to be medicore, it tends not to fire up the voters.
As such, we have a situation where right-wing lunatics with an ironclad base just need to persuade a few suburban women that critical race theory is coming to eat their children. And that’s all it takes to defeat the scrambling, ineffectual Democrats.
Damn you, Martin Van Buren.
Featured image: Wax sculpture of Martin Van Buren, 8th president of the United States, at Madame Tussauds wax museum in Washington, D.C. (Kevin Burkett/CC BY 2.0)