No Representation   Leave a comment

The 2012 election exposed a telling problem in the United States electoral system. In the four years between 2008 and 2012, pollsters asked Americans whether they were likely to vote Republican or Democrat in the 2012 election. Republicans led in the polls for most of those four years. But when pollsters added the preferences “undecided,” “none of the above,” or “tea party,” these win handily, the Democrats came in second, and the Republicans trailed far behind. If you didn’t follow Rasmussen, you wouldn’t know that most voters who call themselves Democrats say that Democratic officials represent them well, while only a fourth of voters who identify themselves as Republicans tell pollsters that Republican officeholders represent them well.  Non-partisan conservatives like me, when presented with a poll that asks if I’m a Republican or a Democrat, will select Republican, but we aren’t Republicans. Here in Alaska, we can register our non-partisan status, but in many states, if you want to vote, you have to be a member of a political party, so you choose the one that most closely resembles your political stance, even if it doesn’t really. The polls suggest that most voters are conservative, but that the GOP doesn’t really represent conservatives.

Democratic politicians represent the ruling class while two-thirds of Americans lack of legitimate vehicle in electoral politics. The Republicans thought if they just moved toward the Democrats by nominating candidates like Mitt Romney they could capture more of the electorate. Instead, many dissatisfied conservatives who are registered Republicans stayed home and allowed Barack Obama to win.

Sooner or later, well or badly, that majority’s demand for representation will be filled. In 1968, George Wallace’s taunt “there ain’t a dime’s worth of difference” between the Republican and Democratic parties resonated with only 13.5 percent of the American people. In 1992 Ross Perot became a serious contender for the presidency simply by speaking ill of the ruling class. Today, few speak well of the ruling class. Not only has it grown in size and pretense, it has undertaken wars it has not won, presided over a declining economy and mushrooming debt, made life more expensive, raised taxes, and talked down to the American people. Americans’ conviction that the ruling class is as hostile as it is incompetent has solidified. The polls tell us that only about a fifth of Americans trust the government to do the right thing. The rest expect that it will do more harm than good and are no longer afraid to say so.

While Europeans are accustomed to being ruled by presumed betters whom they distrust, the American people’s realization of being ruled like Europeans shocked this country into near-revolutionary attitudes. We’ve only begun to wake up to how deeply the ruling class had sunk its roots into America over decades. The disease that afflicts us would have been easy to treat early on while it was difficult to discern, but it may be virtually untreatable by the time it becomes obvious to most people.

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