(I originally made the comments that follow as a response to this post on the 2Blowhards blog. IMO the kind of “they’re all the same” cynicism the Blowhards post represents is counterproductive. The political choices offered to voters need not be optimal to be useful. Politics is the art of the possible, as the old aphorism puts it, and progress is usually incremental. And that’s as it should be — big changes tend to be associated with big disasters. Excessive cynicism on the part of voters can lead to demoralization and premature giving up. Better to maintain a modest level of cynicism, together with modest expectations of what can be accomplished via politics, and stay in the game. Vote for the least-bad candidate and don’t look back. Don’t assume that the system is flawed merely because it doesn’t offer you choices that you would like better.)
There is ample opportunity in modern American life. The society isn’t perfect. So what. Big government is generally too intrusive and destructive; and there is indeed a political class, many of whose interests conflict with those of other Americans. But modern Americans have so many options in life that it’s difficult to find much real oppression here, especially in comparison to current and historical reality elsewhere.
It’s similar WRT politics. Our two-party system is lousy, except compared with the realistic alternatives. If you look beyond the platitudes and examine actual policies there are profound differences between the major parties. They provide clear if imperfect choices in many areas: taxes, regulation, litigation reform, foreign and defense policy, health-care reform, education, judicial appointments, etc. It’s foolish to expect to solve the world’s problems via politics, but it is possible to improve our society incrementally by making sensible electoral choices between bad and less-bad alternatives. That’s how representative government works, and it’s about the best anyone can hope for in humanely managing the affairs of large groups of people.
One thing I don’t understand is why Democratic activists are so interested in getting only the Republicans to change. The Left might be more effective politically if it made its own candidates and policies more attractive to voters. Currently the Republicans have a lot of ideas but lack effective competition from Democrats that might constrain some of the worst ones. Meanwhile the Dems are fuming in reactionary self-absorption, refusing to change, blaming the electorate for their own uncompetitiveness, and further alienating voters by trying to impose their views via the courts, deceitful public-relations-type manipulation, and “direct action.”