We frequently fall in to the trap of thinking that how things work today is how they have always worked. Take for example voting in the United States. The whole concept of an “independent voter” is driven by the fact that today one can vote for people of different parties rather than all representatives from a single party. For example, you might vote for a Democrat for President and a Republican as your Senator.
What I learned while reading The Age of Acrimony is that in the 19th century there was only straight party ballots. The ballots may have been nothing more than a card of one of two different colors. Voting was not in private, one put their colored ballot in the ballot box while everyone else was watching. Elections could and often did become violent affairs. The invention of the ballot booth, with it’s privacy curtain and the ability vote for people running for different offices rather than a party’s representatives cooled the temperature of politics. It also created the idea of the “independent” voter.
You might have noticed that the temperature of politics has definitely risen to higher temperatures over the years, highlighted by the insurrection on January 6, 2021. My theory is that the idea of voting for one’s party, no matter who is running, has become more in vogue ever since Ronald Reagan, when I think the Republican party learned during Reagan’s second term that what letter was next to the name of the candidate was more important than the actual person. The thinking is that what is most important is the party elected to office and not the person because the party’s ideology is what is most important for leading toward the desired outcome. It doesn’t matter whether the President has dementia if the decisions are really made by his handlers.
I think we will see this played out most vividly during the 2024 election. Neither Biden nor Trump are popular among Democrats or Republicans, but they will vote for either the Democrat or Republican candidate. The question will be how the so-called “independents” will vote, and that becomes more difficult when the campaigns become nothing more than don’t vote for the other crazy old person.
Politics is broken because the system is gamed towards the status quo for the benefit of those people who gain from the status quo. Today this is not only the military industrial complex, but nearly every corporation in the United States. How else can you explain why all the candidate we can seem to elect are always of the same generation? Both parties rig it so that the anointed ones are the only options, hence incumbents never are challenged from within, and the non-incumbent pool of candidates are tightly controlled.