National progress is harder than bipartisanship

Much to the surprise of no one, the end of the election did not serve as the end of political polarization in America. As the country leans nearer to the so-called “fiscal cliff,” Americans are effectively back to arms to defend their respective parties, but what if I told you that the two party option is nothing more than a false dichotomy?

Many seem to think the answer to America’s problems is as simple as getting the two parties to work together in a “bipartisan way.” These individuals claim that, between the two sides, an answer can be compromised on.

When the two parties come to some big budget deal which lets them borrow billions more without cutting any spending, it’s hailed as bipartisan and a victory for the moderate. The alleged combatants from either party stand together smiling about the great deal they’ve come to, but it never seems to be a great deal for anyone except those who like bigger government and more spending.

The truth is that Democrats and Republicans mostly agree about far more than what they disagree on. It’s not immediately evident because we only ever hear about the grinding halt induced by stubborn ideologues and extremists. Few people study different political philosophies enough to recognize it and the party representations in the media serve as their only measurement.

Even in terms of global politics, our parties’ platforms are much different than those that are believed around the world.

They’re in general agreement about foreign policy, aren’t they? Oh, the Republicans might be a bit more eager to bomb certain countries than the Democrats — and each group uses slightly different rhetoric to explain why they’re killing people — but they both like to kill.

As I’ve said before, President Obama’s foreign policy hasn’t differed much from Bush’s and I’m willing to bet that Mitt Romney wouldn’t have taken us in a different direction either.

They’re also in general agreement about economics, despite popular belief. Both Republicans and Democrats like controlling the economy without any oversight or accountability. Both sides believe that borrowing money to spend on various projects boosts the economy, even if they might argue over how much to spend and what to spend it on. Both sides also believe that it’s moral and acceptable to take money from people who earn it in order to give it to people who haven’t earned it — or to spend for anything they can agree on.

The two sides generally agree that the U.S. government should take massive amounts of money from individuals against their will and spend it on projects that their political contributors, or lobbyists, want.

They agree on pretty much all the big-picture items about the way the world should work. In fact, if you take a step back and look at the entirety of the political ideology spectrum, their differences are virtually nonexistent.

Yes, they disagree about single issues that are important to some groups. Republicans have tended to oppose abortion and Democrats have tended to favor abortion. And the GOP has generally been more conservative on other social issues, but this has also changed during the years. As national polls continue to shift against the parties on all of those issues, they will shift with the wind.

As my generation continues to grow and take on more influential roles in society, the two parties will accommodate the slight alteration, simply to appease a larger voting base.

In other words, the path isn’t set by politicians, it’s set by us. I’ve long held the belief that the political process is little more than a lagging indicator of popular opinion. If you’re on one side of this divide or the other, you’re being distracted by tiny differences when the big picture is much more important.

Eventually, we must realize that the current path, which isn’t going to be shifted by either party, is going to continue to lead us into the same problems.

Answering the current conflicts our country faces is going to take creativity and original solutions, not following the same line that we’ve treaded thus far.

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