We hear the word "duopoly" used to describe all or part of the current political system of the United States.
Today, let's examine whether or not that is an accurate description, and if so, how accurate of a description is it?
II. What Is A Duopoly Made Of?
What something is made of, or not made of, is going to be the significant factor in its performance, its behavior, and so that also goes for our subject matter today: a political duopoly system.
If modern U.S. politics is an example of a political duopoly, what should we look for?
Here is one description to help us pick it out of a line up of various types of government:
Modern American politics, in particular the electoral college system has been described as duopolistic since the Republican and Democratic parties have dominated and framed policy debate as well as the public discourse on matters of national concern for about a century and a half. Third Parties have encountered various blocks in getting onto ballots at different levels of government as well as other electoral obstacles, more so in recent decades.(Wikipedia, "Duopoly", emphasis added). Ok, so that may cover the past "century and a half" but what about now?
One of the leaders in this duopolistic system recently commented that the system is currently morphing into a battle of the billionaires from each of the two parties, the two "sides" (Raw Story, Harry Reid).
He is saying that this system has morphed from a public election system, where voters decide the direction of foreign and domestic policy, into a moneyed system where only the billionaires have the main "say" in elections and national policy.
How is that the case, since the voters still get to vote?
Our Supreme Five on the Supreme Court have imagined that "money is speech," thus $1 is a word, $100 is a sentence, $1,000 is a paragraph, and $1,000,000 is a book.
So, how is the book on elections written now compared to before if there has in fact been a morph, a change?
Those who decide what candidate will run write the book with their money doing the talking, as evidenced by the Republican candidates all flocking or being herded to a gathering.
A gathering at a gambling casino where the billionaire for their side decided who he would bet on, what horse he would back, yes, who would be the party's candidate (Candidates Court Mega Donor).
The people only get to vote for or against who is chosen for them, they do not decide who will be a candidate.
This is the dynamic involved where the money does the talking, where the book is written, where the characters and themes in the election book are crafted.
The voters are given choices from a list that follows the designated theme of big money, a charted direction for the ship of state, whether the people want that direction or not.
In short, the voters do not decide what is the common good, the common direction, the national experience, no, it is decided for them:
THE conscious and intelligent manipulation of the organized habits and opinions of the masses is an important element in democratic society. Those who manipulate this unseen mechanism of society constitute an invisible government which is the true ruling power of our country. We are governed, our minds are molded, our tastes formed, our ideas suggested, largely by men we have never heard of. This is a logical result of the way in which our democratic society is organized. Vast numbers of human beings must cooperate in this manner if they are to live together as a smoothly functioning society.(The Ways of Bernays, quoting from "Propaganda" by Edward Bernays). So, above the duopoly is "an invisible government" which Dredd Blog has described for some time now as The Epigovernment (epi = "above", hence epigovernment means above government).
Our invisible governors are, in many cases, unaware of the identity of their fellow members in the inner cabinet.
They govern us by their qualities of natural leadership, their ability to supply needed ideas and by their key position in the social structure. Whatever attitude one chooses to take toward this condition, it remains a fact that in almost every act of our daily lives, whether in the sphere of politics or business, in our social conduct or our ethical thinking, we are dominated by the relatively small number of persons — a trifling fraction of our hundred and twenty [now 320] million — who understand the mental processes and social patterns of the masses. It is they who pull the wires which control the public mind, who harness old social forces and contrive new ways to bind and guide the world.
It is the purpose of this book to explain the structure of the mechanism which controls the public mind, and to tell how it is manipulated by the special pleader who seeks to create public acceptance for a particular idea or commodity. It will attempt at the same time to find the due place in the modern democratic scheme for this new propaganda and to suggest its gradually evolving code of ethics and practice.
It is admitted that "something" above government, which duopoly leaders call "billionaires," have the say:
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) on Tuesday said that billionaires controlled American politics because of the lack of campaign finance laws.(Raw Story, Harry Reid). Regular readers know that Dredd Blog does not consider those billionaires who call the shots to be exclusively American players, no, those billionaires have roots elsewhere than America:
“I’m here because of the flood of dark money into our nation’s political system poises the greatest threat to our democracy that I have witnessed during my tenure in public service,” he said during a Senate Judiciary hearing. “The decisions of the Supreme Court have left the American people with a status quo in which one side’s billionaires are pitted against the other side’s billionaires.”
“So we sit here today with a simple choice: Do we keep the status quo and argue all day and all night forever about whose billionaires are right, whose billionaires are wrong, or we can work together to change the system to get this shady money out of our democracy and restore the basic principles of one American, one vote,” Reid remarked.
In this series Dredd Blog has been looking at some of the the private aspects of the nature of MOMCOM, that is, the private parts.(MOMCOM: The Private Parts - 4). So, we have touched upon some qualitative factors which have been discussed recently as "the 1%" vs. the "99%," mostly in alternative media.
In the first post of this series (MOMCOM: The Private Parts) we focused on an essential element of "The Private Empire", which is the fact that they do not have any concept of belonging to any particular nation.
For example, we focused on the statement of the CEO of ExxonMobil, who declared in an interview, "I am not an American company."
In the second post of this series (MOMCOM: The Private Parts - 2) we focused on some of the tactics and methodologies which The Private Empire uses to assure that its global influences remain viable.
In the third post of this series (MOMCOM: The Private Parts - 3) we noted that The Private Empire is a conglomerate of some 147 incestuous, cronyism practising, and otherwise intertwined international corporations that sit atop many governments, or at least have substantial influence and control over many governments.
Now that we have taken a glimpse at the quantities involved in the nature of a political duopoly at work, what are the qualities at play in this Shakespearean play, this duopolistic dynamic?
The video below is an interview of Professor George Lakoff, author of many books, including The Policical Mind.
Professor Lakoff characterizes the quality of the epigovernment in terms of morality of a psychological structure, a metaphor known to conservatives and progressives alike as The Nation-as-Family Metaphor:
... a common metaphor, shared by conservatives and liberals alike -- the Nation-as-Family metaphor, in which the nation is seen as a family, the government as a parent and the citizens as children ...(Security: Familyland, Fatherland, or Homeland?). As Dr. Lakoff explains it, the way it plays out is a duopoly with a level of conflict of moral values.
It’s no accident that our political beliefs are structured by our idealizations of the family. Our earliest experience with being governed is in our families. Our parents “govern” us: They protect us, tell us what we can and cannot do, make sure we have enough money and supplies, educate us, and have us do our part in running the house.
So it is not at all surprising that many nations are metaphorically seen in terms of families: Mother Russia, Mother India, the Fatherland. In America, we have founding fathers, Daughters of the American Revolution, Uncle Sam, and we send our collective sons and daughters to war. In George Orwell’s dystopian novel 1984, the voice of the totalitarian state was called Big Brother.
As George Lakoff discussed at length in his 1996 book, Moral Politics, this metaphorical understanding of the nation-as-family directly informs our political worldview. Directly, but not consciously. As with other aspects of framing, the use of this metaphor lies below the level of consciousness.
The conservative arm of the duopoly follows the strict parent model of the family, while the progressive arm follows the nurturing parent model.
Thus, the duopoly at that level is a struggle of moral views, a struggle between two moralities.
Adding the epigovernment concept to the picture, which is above the fray so to speak, Dredd Blog has seen the duopoly level as bread and circuses, not the place where the decisions of national policy are made.
In future posts in this series we will get into the nature of the epigovernment so we get an idea of how they write the play and select the actors in the play.
But more than that, we will also discuss what happens when the "parents in the nation-family" go "batshit crazy."