Neither fascism nor communism is coming to America
In every presidential election, like clockwork, the candidates ramp up the culture war rhetoric. It's a well-worn formula: painting your opponent as some kind of omnipotent force that will single-handedly decimate the country within four years.
"Are you safe in Donald Trump's America?" Democratic nominee Joe Biden asked in a recent campaign stump speech. He blames Trump for fostering division, failing to control the ubiquitously marketed Coca-Cola of viruses, and bungling the economy. But there's no proof that Biden and the Democrats would have fared any better. Nor are they providing any. They just want you to believe that they would have done better than mean ol' Trump.
Maybe the Democrats are more subtle and sophisticated in their style, but they haven't proven they're more competent in substance. In fact, this entire presidential campaign is so devoid of substance and so full of shallow bickering that one has to strain to think of any substantial campaign promises from either candidate. But how many voters have even noticed?
Here's a test. Ask the next person you meet which candidate they support for president. Then ask which specific policy point of that candidate appeals to them. Make them cite the actual policy in detail. I bet they can't.
It looks as if this election is going to be decided by feelings. It's the epitome of a political dumbing-down.
And it's all so tiresome. "He's a bully!" yells the grade-schooler who cries that the other kid punched him in the face first. But most teachers realize that an entire series of events occurred behind their back and only came to a crescendo as they turned around.
Democrats and Republicans have been yanking each other's pigtails since at least the late '90s, when a permanent seismic crack developed over the impeachment of former President Bill Clinton following the Monica Lewinsky saga.
That divide widened after the 2000 presidential election that saw former President George W. Bush defeat Al Gore as the result of a recount in Florida. Democrats spent the next eight years trying to delegitimize Bush.
Then, Barack Obama was supposed to heal divisions and unite Americans. There's no reason to doubt that he had such intentions. But how is it even feasible when the system is polarized by definition and about half of voters didn't choose you? Independent voters exist, but not nearly enough of them. Although 38 percent identify as independent, most of them still lean toward one party or the other, according to a Pew Research Center report.
Trump's presidency isn't an outlier. The American electorate is still clinging to one of the two magnetic poles. Based on the heated political rhetoric these days, those two poles are the "Commie Pole" and the "Nazi Pole" − apparently political paradigms haven't changed much in the past century.
Trump would have voters believe that Biden is a Trojan horse for the fringe left, while Biden is peddling the notion that Trump is a threat to democracy − which is a way of saying that he's a fascist. For every instance where Trump is accused of fascist proclivities by Democrats, he lets slip his iron grip. For example, Trump is getting slammed for his management of the coronavirus. He's accused of freewheeling it, allowing state governors to make their own decisions based on the truth on the ground. Yeah, sounds like a real fascist all right. And one has to stretch the imagination to imagine that 77-year-old institutional fixture Joe Biden is doing the bidding of people who want to fight about the use of personal pronouns.
In order to haul America down the slippery slope toward either fascism or communism, a president would have to mow down a whole lot of institutional speed bumps. Countries that are taken over by extreme ideology have a very tight top-down structure, permitting orders at the top to rapidly trickle down for efficient execution by the lowest civil servant. Meanwhile, it takes months to even get a U.S. passport. This doesn't bode well for a fascist or communist takeover of America.
Polarized electoral America is nonetheless leaving the impression that one has no choice but to choose a camp in this culture war. You're either with Trump and his right-wing stormtroopers, or with Biden and his left-wing radicals. It's all an illusion that plays on fear. And the only way to win the culture war is to opt out and refuse to play this manipulative political game, and to make decisions based on logic and analysis rather than emotional chain-yanking.
Rachel Marsden is a columnist, political strategist and host of an independently produced French-language program that airs on Sputnik France. Her column is distributed by Tribune Content Agency.
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The public also seems unenthusiastic about raising taxes, even on the rich, perhaps because it is hard to see what three decades of steadily rising taxes have accomplished.