You’ll often hear arguments from people stating that voting in the United States doesn’t matter because both parties are two sides of the same coin. You’ll also hear that voting does matter because both the Republicans and Democrats represent very different ideologies.
I think it is a little more complicated than that because I believe that both arguments are correct, despite their inherent contradictions. This is because I’m looking at a bigger picture than most people when it comes to voting and political parties in general.
From where I see it, most people who vote for a Democrat or a Republican do so with the intention of supporting someone who they perceive as upholding a certain ideology. In other words, most individuals who vote are voting for their beliefs and they believe that the person they vote has those beliefs.
The truth is, most politicians are very pragmatic and opportunistic at the same time. While they may be morons in a lot of things, they are masters of making a deal. By that I mean that they are really good at working out an agreement with another party and gaining an edge of their own. If the US haggled more, they’d convince most grocers to sell their stuff for a penny or less.
Because they are people of underhanded dealings and not people of honor or integrity, they have little use for ideologues or concrete political beliefs in general. They see political ideals, such as Socialism or conservatism, as a means to an end: ensuring a solid voter base.
The mainstream voters for these candidates are fairly gullible as well. They will often project their own views and beliefs onto the candidates they intend to vote for. This is why you have pro-life voters supporting Republicans, despite their long track record of doing nothing about abortion, while you have various minority groups supporting Democrats despite Democrats being largely old, white former-segregationists. In either case, these groups are projecting their beliefs onto a person who really doesn’t give a damn about their politics.
But what do politicians really want? What are their beliefs, if they generally hold the ones they publicly support in such contempt? The answer is that they believe in themselves.
A politician is generally a narcissist, like many who like the spotlight. I remember a press corp. standing outside a room when, sure enough, some important Congressman or Senator came strolling out to greet them. He was practically glowing with divine energy as he began to address the press about the innocuous and utterly meaningless agreement he has just brokered. The deal itself didn’t matter really. It was all about the limelight.
Politicians in both parties are brokers of power, pure and simple. They make deals to enrich themselves. That’s why if you ever want to further a cause, you will need a lot of money to coerce a politician into supporting you. Gone are the days of grassroots influencing politicians.
The truth is, when you vote, you are just deciding which faction will have the most influence. Ideology is not a factor, but the top donors are. They are two sides of the same coin but they are also different in that they get support from different corporations and institutions.
Except, of course, the largest ones that can afford to give money to both parties. They are the true masters of the government.