US: myth of the two party system

Would the US look much different if John McCain had beaten Barack Obama to become president?

McCain Obama
Throughout his political career, Seantor Joe Lieberman of Connecticut has constantly hurdled the “partisan divide” which is a true symbol of the narrow nature of America’s institutional political spectrum  [EPA]

“The two-party system has given this country the war of Lyndon Johnson, the Watergate of Nixon and the incompetence of Carter. Saying we should keep the two-party system simply because it is working is like saying the Titanic voyage was a success because a few people survived on life rafts.”
—Eugene J. McCarthy, 1978

If John McCain were president, we can never be exactly sure what would be happening, but I think we can make some educated speculations.

First of all, the “banksters” would be receiving their carte blanche bailouts and Ben Bernanke would have been re-appointed as Chairman of the Federal Reserve.

Robert Gates would probably still be the secretary of defence and Sarah Palin would be offering late night comedians endless fodder for their monologues.

If John McCain happened to be the one infesting the Oval Office at this time, single-payer health care would surely be “off the table”. I am confident that a health care “reform” bill probably would have contained massive giveaways to the insurance and big pharmaceutical industries, with no “robust” public option.

We citizens would, I’m sure, have been forced to purchase insurance from the very same insurance companies that spread out a largess of nearly $170m lobbying dollars to Congress in 2009. If we are one of the “lucky ones” that happen to already have coverage, we would have been taxed for the benefit.

McCain and ‘justice’ 

Without a doubt, McCain’s Justice Department would be protecting war criminals – like John Yoo – of the preceding administration and the McCain Department of Justice (DOJ) would probably be vigorously defending the discriminatory practise of Don’t Ask Don’t Tell for the military.

More than likely, under this nightmarish scenario, McCain’s Federal Bureau of Investigation would be committing home invasion break-ins (designated as “legal raids”) to intimidate activists.

McCain probably would have given himself the power to be judge and jury over any American citizen that didn’t approve of his foreign policy.

There is not even a shadow of doubt that McCain would be feigning strictness with Israel, while turning a blind eye to the continued expansions of Israeli settlements in the West Bank and the completely immoral and destructive blockade of Gaza.

If the unthinkable occurred and McCain beat Obama in 2008, official unemployment would be hovering around 10 per cent (unofficial around 20 per cent). And one in every five homes would be in danger of being foreclosed upon. We might even be experiencing the widest income disparity between the rich and poor that we have seen since before the stock market crash of 1929!

McCain, being the “brave” military man, may have tripled troop deployments to Afghanistan and the needless deaths of US troops and Afghan civilians would probably have increased dramatically. I am sure that McCain would have given huge contracts to the US war machine for drones, mercenaries, airplanes and other military hardware.

Being a loyal Bushite, McCain would probably be conscientiously following the Status of Forces Agreement for the slow withdrawal from Iraq that was negotiated between the Bush government, and the puppet regime in Iraq.

At least we aren’t bombing Iran!

I get informed all the time, that even though “Obama isn’t so great”, at least he hasn’t invaded Iran yet, and McCain surely would have been bombing Iran by now.

Okay so rhetoric towards Iran would be heigtened, but whether McCain would have waged another military campaign during the current political climate would be an assumption too far.

Gosh, if McCain were president right now, the defense budget might be the largest – $741.2bn – since World War II. He might have even asked for billions upon billions of supplemental funding for the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Horrors!

Of course, a McCain education budget would only be about 1/10th of the defense budget at $78bn. And, a McCain education plan would probably contain lots of rigorous testing if the states were to want more desperately needed funds. 

If McCain were president, there would be an active “anti-war” movement. However – as during the Bush years – the “movement” wouldn’t be so much antiwar, but anti-war waged by the Republicans. The anti-Republican movement wants no systemic change, it just wants Democrats in office.

Blurring the political divide

However in almost every case, Democrat equals the status quo.

Of course, in all of my above scenarios, Obama and his regime have done all of those things that people were afraid that McCain would do, but there’s an extremely small outcry.

Here we are, once again, careening madly down the path to electoral ruin—where voting for the “lesser of two evils” has become a national pastime.

When the elite class gives the appearance of only two choices on the ballot, we end up voting “against” a candidate far more times than we vote “for” someone.

What’s wrong with us? We are lazy, we are fearful, the establishment beats us down, we are ignorant, and we are defeated. Voting at least gives us the latent feeling that we are doing something, when we are really doing very little.

We righteously march down to our polling place, like good soldiers for the status quo. We vote. We get our little stickers with an American flag that proudly proclaims: I VOTED. But when we vote for a member of the political duopoly, we are only voting for “Dee or Dum”.

The Democrats had their chance during the last four years, and instead of passing progressive legislation and ending the wars, they have pandered to the right, which has been emboldened by the power the Democrats gave it.

Now the Republicans are poised to take over at least the House of Representatives. And Democrats will begin to spew progressivism out of their lying mouths and abuse the energy of their newly-angry base to try to regain power – like the Republicans have done effectively for the past two years.

Will progressives ever learn that political pandering and fear-based voting never brings anything but defeat, or are we trapped in a vicious cycle of our own making?

Cindy Sheehan is the mother of Specialist Casey A. Sheehan, who was killed in Iraq on April 4, 2004. Since then, she has been an activist for peace and human rights. She has published five books, has her own Internet radio show, Cindy Sheehan’s Soapbox, and has been nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize. Cindy lives in Oakland, CA, and loves to spend time with her three grand-babies. You can learn more about Cindy at Peace of the Action

The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial policy.