Episode 28 – Has America Become a One Party State?

Welcome Friends, Neighbors and people everywhere. This is your host, Michael Nunes.

Welcome to the Twenty-Eighth episode of my podcast, The Power of Three. I want to help show you how harnessing the Power of Three can lead to a more fulfilling life, a life that celebrates our differences and our similarities, and accepts that we are part of the great web of life.

In this episode, I will discuss whether America is becoming a one-party state. I grew up in South Africa, a country that had a well-deserved reputation as a bastion of white supremacy. In 1948, the Nationalist Party engineered a take-over of government through the popular vote. Even then, only the minority white population enjoyed the vote. For the next forty-six years, the Nats, as they were known, dominated the political life in the country.

South Africa was nominally a democratic state, but only if you were white. The black majority did not receive the vote at all. Yet, even among the white population, democracy only existed on paper, given the hold that the Nats had over the levers of power. In effect, the country was run by a one-party state. Lesser parties did not get much of a say in the running of the country.

Countries that were equally undemocratic surrounded South Africa. When the colonial powers left Africa, leaders of guerilla groups either took, or were handed power by the colonials. Those leaders very seldom relinquished power. Most ruled their nations with an iron fist. Most were communist dictatorships; Zimbabwe to the North, Mozambique to the East, and Angola and Botswana on the west. Kings ruled the countries of Lesotho and Swaziland, both encompassed by South Africa. Namibia on the West was a protectorate of South Africa.

You might say that I have some experience of one-party states. I have seen the methods used to obtain and keep power. I see the same strategies and tactics rolling across the American prairie. As a newly minted American, I am perplexed at the ease with which many Americans seem to take this change in their political and social life. The evisceration of the body of democracy, and of freedom is proceeding swiftly. We are becoming a state governed by a single party.

America is still a country that holds elections, but those elections are not what they appear. Majority rule is slowly being whittled away in dozens of nefarious ways. A one party state is defined as one in which other political parties are either outlawed or are allowed to take only a limited and controlled part in elections. It would be more correct to call America a dominant party system. Elections are held, but the balance of political power denies the opposition a chance at winning elections.

The single factor that determines our fate is that of money in politics. Nothing comes as close in corrupting the political process. The Supreme Court ruling in Citizens United unleashed a torrent of money that is corrupting democracy. The Court ruled that it was free speech, but there is nothing free about it. Only those groups or individuals possessing the ability to pay to play are afforded speech. The vast majority of the population cannot hope to match the enormous funds pumped into candidates campaigns. This money buys politicians, and is rewarded through contracts, laws and regulations.

This imposes a one-party system because politicians that do not adhere to the controllers of the money will not be elected. Politicians spend most of their time chasing money instead of representing their constituents. They pay lip service to the needs of constituents, instead voting as the money demands. Politicians court voters through appeals to identity or superficial social belonging, and then the voters are ignored until the next election. Money becomes the single party. The money consumes the two political parties. The voice of the people is drowned out by the weight of finance.

The parties win by tossing a few scraps to the voters, rather than tackle real issues that affect the people. The wealthy and corporations produce enormous profits on their investments in politicians. These profits are then squirreled away, while voters are told that the money will be used to invest in jobs. The people believe that they will benefit from the Noblesse Oblige, or noble obligations of the wealthy. The con job tends to work for most people, who swallow this bilge with open mouths.

The second most favored route to dominance is the gerrymander. The Republican Party is particularly good at the gerrymander. A state like Wisconsin has an electorate evenly split between the two parties. Yet, the GOP controlled 63 of 99 seats in 2014. Republicans created a district map that silences certain voters. Politicians, particularly in Republican states now dominate elections by choosing their voters, rather than the voters choosing them. Across the country, only a few dozen House seats are competitive. The rest are controlled, increasingly by the GOP.

Even though the electorate across the country is fairly evenly split, Republicans control most of the legislatures. This allows them legislative free rein. The only thing that stands in their way is a primary challenge from within their own party. Despite being our representatives, they do very little representing. They seldom speak to their constituents, or hold town hall meetings to get an idea what their voters think. Instead, they chase big donors and plaster advertising on local TV stations

Having this power allows Republicans to do certain things. They can introduce legislation preventing certain groups from voting. Limits to voting hours, restricting the number of days polls are open, or preventing anyone with a criminal record of any kind from voting are quite common. Add that to ID laws and purges of voter rolls, and Republicans are able to ensure electoral victory.

This leaves them free to cut taxes or the wealthy. In other words, for those who financed their electoral victories. They can gut schools, let corporations into school cafeterias, and allow big polluters like oil companies to pollute even more. They can destroy unions, which represent the interests of workers, or privatize prisons, creating deplorable conditions. Mostly, they marginalize anyone that does not look like one of their voters.

In the United States Congress, things are even worse. Republicans now control the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives. This allows them free rein to pass their agenda. Democrats, who were elected as representatives of large slices of the country, are routinely ignored. They do little representing, and spend most of their time voting against the radical legislation passed through Republican dominated committees.

Democrats are given little say in committees, and many laws now pass through committee without any input from Democrats. They are passed without public hearings in which the people can participate. They are passed without a debate on the floor of the House or the Senate. What was once the world’s greatest deliberative body has become a gravy train inhabited by the wealthy and the powerful.

Laws are created by corporations and pummeled through Congress without the representatives even reading what they are signing. The tax law that threatens to gut many social programs was passed without debate. It was passed with comments and amendments penciled on page after page. No Democrat was allowed to insert as much as a sentence, never mind an amendment.

Power is increasingly centralized in the Republican Party, which demands fealty and loyalty from every party member. Any member that does not adhere to the dictates of the GOP central committee is ruthlessly culled from the party. This has become a system that resembles more the iron fist of the Communist Party than a party in a democratic state. All that is needed is consolidated rule under a single man. In the current President, that has been accomplished.

The deluge of executive orders by the President is vastly greater than any president before. This threatens to bypass the democratic process entirely and dispense with Congress. The President rolls back regulations carefully crafted by years or decades of debate and compromise.

The packing of the third arm of government, the judiciary, also continues apace. With the refusal of the Republican Congress even to consider Merrick Garland for the Supreme Court, Republicans now ensure that the Court can push an extreme right-wing agenda on the country. District courts around the country are seeing the same thing. Republicans refused to consider Obamas nominees, leaving great numbers of positions vacant. These positions are now being filled with reliably conservative justices. This again ensures the hegemony of a single party.

Democrats in Congress, and around the country do little to stop the Republican juggernaut, or its corporate backers. Their message is lost in the tumult of electioneering. Their platform appears disjointed. It bears a stronger resemblance to the Republican Party agenda of the last two decades than any progressive or liberal agenda. Even in the face of clear corruption in the President, the party refuses to consider impeachment, or any kind of censure against a rogue president.

Just as in South Africa, and the communist counties around South Africa, America is creating a dominant, one party state. Republicans are dong whatever they can to ensure that this system endures for a generation. The destruction of democracy under Republicans may ultimately result in a totalitarian or authoritarian government. This does not bode well for anyone.

People who believe in democracy, and life, liberty and equality do not have much with which to fight back against this onslaught against history’s greatest democracy. The power of the vote is feeble at best. Demonstrations bring only an increasing clampdown by increasingly militarized law enforcement. The continued dominance of major news media by large corporate interests on the right continues. The voice of the people is being lost amidst the ugliness of the Republican regime across the country. Absent political revolution, it appears that little can halt the slide into political oblivion.

The only solution to the current political impasse is for a clear majority of voters to reject the current corporate backed system. We need to cooperate with one another to revive a crumbling democracy and put this nation back on a path to freedom. There is no U.S. cavalry that will charge in to save us from our own system. The American Dream will vanish into the chasm of history.

I encourage you to continue to enhance your life with the Power of Three and search for the best possible life to live.

Until next time, go well my friends.

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