Whether it be the economy, education, health-care or any other major issue; the root problem is how money distorts policy time and again, and then ensures that all subsequent “debate” about policy failures stay within an acceptable framework. Absent this influence, lawmakers would be free to choose the best course of action without worrying about deep-pocketed special interests blocking any and all solutions not favorable to their own narrow interests.
So how do they keep getting away with it? For starters, because most voters align themselves with one of the two major political parties, self-interested politicians and the media have little trouble in establishing the framework of debate for just about every issue of importance. The two parties craft opposing narratives, which dominate the direction of debate to the point of virtually excluding all other viewpoints. Finally, they demonize their opponents to win elections, while spouting self-serving half-truths which resonate with voters because there is always at least a kernel of truth wrapped up somewhere inside the lies and distortions.
By the time they’re done, even in cases where both sides’ arguments have genuine merit about an issue, agreement is still unlikely because we’ve been conditioned to devalue the views of political opposition as the sad babblings of demented and misinformed cretins.
The end result is stalemate and dysfunction, and a political system which doesn’t work for anyone but the moneyed interests.
A better system would yield better results, but you never hear that viewpoint in the media, and that too is by design. Those currently pulling the strings in government and media are not interested in people imagining how high we could soar unencumbered by the systemic corruption constantly weighing us down. They know this is the fuel which could ignite a movement, and they will forestall that at all costs.
Ending systemic corruption is a powerful idea with the potential to unite multiple political factions, but only if it is uncoupled from the current partisan debate and treated as the uniting issue it is. Just as lawmakers bristle at the notion that they are personally corrupt – all while taking part in perpetuating a systemic corruption far more harmful than any one (or ten) corrupt congressperson could ever hope to be – so too will voters bristle if asked to admit they’ve been wrong about closely-held beliefs. The easier it is made for voters to unite against corruption without having to examine their viewpoints on any particular issue too closely, the greater the chance of success.
Better to simply ask voters to look at issues from a perspective of root problem vs. symptom and then talk about issues in that context. Focus on how special interests limit the overall scope of debate and leave us endlessly arguing over the symptoms caused by their corruption. Finally, give voters a way to end systemic corruption via pro-reform candidates who don’t require them to invalidate their opinions and feelings as a condition of support.
But before voters can be asked to end the corruption and its toxic fallout, they must first recognize how most of the noise generated by politicians and the media is meant primarily to divide and distract. Real change will only come once people understand that the problems we face are mostly byproducts of a broken system. Until we end the corruption infesting our politics, nothing will change, things will not get better, and the debates in which we engage will remain full of sound and fury; signifying nothing.