By Dennis Etler

The U.S. presidential election has never been a fully democratic process

October 6, 2020 - 23:44

The U.S. presidential election has never been a fully democratic process. Historically the right to vote was severely restricted to white, property-owning males. This was a small portion of the population and represented the young country's ruling elite.

It took over 130 years for women to gain the franchise and over 180 years for minorities to effectively gain the right to vote. Even after so-called universal suffrage was established many obstacles have been employed to restrict the expression of the will of the voters.

These include the Electoral College which over represents states with small populations in the selection of the president, leading to two recent elections in which the candidate with a smaller vote total was installed, and Gerrymandering which skews Congressional districts to disenfranchise minority communities. Many people in the U.S. have lost faith in electoral politics and only slightly more than 55% actually voted in the last presidential election.

“Although they (Republicans and Democrats) may differ tactically, their strategic interests are the same. Given their duopoly of power, both parties, their corporate sponsors and media mouthpieces conspire to marginalize any attempts to create third parties which offer different political perspectives that challenge the status quo.” U.S. politics has long been dominated by the "two-party system." Both parties support the fundamental structure of the U.S. economic and political system and the overall character of U.S. foreign policy. The differences between the two parties are based on their appeal to different core constituencies. For the last half-century, Republicans have appealed to mostly rural social and religious conservatives, while Democrats have appealed to urban secularists and minorities. This is how the term "culture wars" originated. 

While the two parties fight over cultural issues, the basic nature of the capitalist economic system and the corporate controlled political system at home, and a foreign policy of interventionism and hegemony abroad are shared by both parties. Although they may differ tactically, their strategic interests are the same. Given their duopoly of power, both parties, their corporate sponsors and media mouthpieces conspire to marginalize any attempts to create third parties which offer different political perspectives that challenge the status quo.

Many Americans have lost faith in the political process. Politicians at the national and state levels make bold promises but seldom follow through on them. Recent polls show that only 30% of the American electorate have faith in their government, one of the lowest percentages in the developed world. Why is this? A Princeton University study based on data from nearly 2,000 public-opinion surveys compared what people wanted from their government to what it actually delivered. What they found was that the opinions of the bottom 90% of income earners in America have essentially no impact on legislation that is passed. The study concluded that, “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a minuscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy." The reason for this is that corporate and monied interests have a stranglehold on the U.S. political system, leading many to characterize it as an oligarchy rather than a democracy. This has led to voter cynicism and apathy which is reflected in the low election turnout.

AIPAC is a very strong lobbying organization in the U.S. which promotes the interests of the Zionist Israeli state. The Jewish population of the U.S., although relatively small, has disproportionate influence in entertainment, media and financial circles. But it is a mistake to say AIPAC controls the U.S. government. Prior to WW2 the U.S. had very little influence in West Asia. Both the British and French had mandates throughout the region and divided up the colonial spoils between themselves. After the war the U.S. began to replace the European colonial powers and sought to impose its hegemony. Using Israel as its proxy the U.S. policy was to keep West Asia in a state of disarray so it could fish in troubled waters and influence events to its liking. The U.S. overthrew the democratically elected government of Iran, installed the Pahlavi regime as its vassal, and sought an alliance with Saudi Arabia. 

Simultaneously, the U.S. used Israel as its agent in West Asia to advance its hegemonic interests and policies. The resistance of the Palestinian people, together with the victory of the Iranian Revolution put a damper on U.S. efforts to run roughshod over the people of West Asia. As with all imperial powers the U.S. seeks to divide and rule. Israel serves as a cat's paw of U.S. imperialism in West Asia and as a magnet for forces that want to disrupt the unity of Muslims against European neo-colonialism and U.S. imperialism. AIPAC serves as a propaganda wing of U.S. imperialism devoted to protecting U.S. interests in West Asia by advocating and promoting Zionism among the American people.


Dennis Etler is an American political analyst who has a decades-long interest in international affairs. He’s a former professor of Anthropology at Cabrillo College in Aptos, California. He has a PhD in anthropology from the University of California in Berkeley.

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