Well, I’d argue there’s many things they haven’t learned. But for the purpose of this post- my point is that politics- like so many things in this world- should not, can not, be viewed as a line, but instead a circle, or better yet a sphere.
In other words- the extremes of the parties tend to, in many ways, be closer to each other then they are to what they would identify as their party.
As an aside- take the test at Political Compass to see where your politics stand. http://www.politicalcompass.org
I, according to the test am pretty far (well , extremely far) Libertarian left. Which like most labels- is sufficient enough while missing the intricacies. And yet- I will often find myself more in agreement* with those on the far right then the base of the democratic party. Now the “*” above is important. While we may see many of the same issues as important- we may often arrive their for completely different reasons and/or see completely different solutions.
But I would argue our nations politics are far, far more complicated then the two party system (and yes, quite a number of (very small) minority parites would suggest.
The vast majority of americans (at least those who bother to vote) hover around the large center of the political sphere. Despite the screams of Obama being a socialist/communist/marxist etc he is actually- on most issues- VERY conservative. More so then many in his party would like. Indeed- on many issues he has not been far off of Reagan and the Bush’s. And in some cases probably to the right of them. Likewise- Romney (judging from his past- not his “who am I today” campaign) was very much a moderate. Hell- he pushed and passed what became the basis for Obamacare.
And of course- classicaly the biggest split is supposed to come along social vs economic issues. But we have increasingly seen a breakdown in even this.
And so, I am rather perplexed by the far right, the tea-party and some of the libertarians are screaming that the GOP lost because they moved too far to the center. I would argue something very, very different. The extreme authoritarian right of the party- which has always been small- has become- thanks to the internet- very loud. And that Romeny made an extremely bad choice- passing over his pick for VP (Chris Christie) for a Tea Party favorite-Paul Ryan. Making many in the republican central base choose not to vote. Or even voting for Obama. Because despite the reality portrayed by Tea Party and far right “news” sites (wnd, breitbart, canada free press, the moonies Washinton Times, the russian tabloid Pravda, cns news) Obama is very, very much a moderate. And he does push for the christian belief of helping those in need.
The idea that america has two parties is laughably sad. America has two (real) candidates. But the republican and democratic parties are no more cohesive then the environmental vote. Labor. Women. Racial minorities.
Within every category people are tempered by their reality and their experiences of our country- and the world.
Do the republicans think that the investment banker making $15 million a year sees all issues the same as the mechanic in rural alabama? Do the democrats believe that the tech company ceosees issues the same way as the single mother of 3 working two jobs, and relying on the cities public transit, the same way?
No. And while this may sound (and hell, it probably is) cruel- I have not known many, if any truly intelligent and thinking people who have fully backed a candidate in my lifetime. Often some, if not much of the support is opposition to core principles of the opponent.
I don’t know anyone who truly supports a candidate. It’s the nature f humanity. The forces that shape us. We at best try and nudge things in a direction we believe in. And at worst give up major values to support the ones we se as crucial.
But I don’t see a better solution. Though I DO wonder about our earlier system where, for president- the top vote getter became prez and runner up became VP. I am tempted to say a system of strictly public financed elections, with, at the least minor parties who have shown some presence (libertarian and green come to mind) – with NO outside spending, and such a prez/vp split might be interesting. Won’t happen but still…