I know that politics is a dirty business. As much as I try to understand the nature of politics, I invariably come back to the fact that politics is a dirty business. But understanding that unpleasant fact does not explain the mindset of the U.S. voter. The U.S. voter mindset is a contradiction – two diametrically opposed realities – the notion that U.S. democracy is the best in the world and a mindset that politics is binary, one side is wrong and the other is righteous. There is no middle ground in U.S. politics and therein lies the reason the country is divided today.
On one hand, Americans hold the ideal that American democracy must be exported to the rest of the world because it is the only true Democracy. Wars, foreign interventions and ongoing antagonism towards other countries have been based on the notion that their political maturity does not rise to the American standard. Many in the U.S., especially the politicians, believe that U.S. foreign policy is based on nation building other countries into the American version of democracy. The belief being that to be truly free, the people must have the “freedom” to choose their leadership, like in the U.S.
The problem is that “freedom” has yet to be brought forth to the U.S. political process. And therein lies the other side of American politics, the side that sees politics as binary.
The national narrative is based on two opposing forces. Those that support Donald Trump and those that oppose Donald Trump. For, what seems like the majority, those that oppose Donald Trump must support Hillary Clinton. There is no room for those that believe Hillary Clinton is corrupt while also believing that Donald Trump is a liar.
It is a one or the other mentality.
It is rather simplistic to argue that the U.S. democracy is a two-party system and thus it must be binary – one or the other.
This mentality, of one or the other, trickles down into lesser elections where two viable candidates is not the norm, but three or more. Take, for example, the congressional race in El Paso, Texas where there are two premiere candidates – Veronica Escobar and Dori Fenenbock dueling for the Democratic party primary election in March. There is a third spoiler, Norma Chavez, that is sitting in third place unable to muster a credible challenge.
In El Paso, a strong Democratic stronghold, the winner of the primary will be the next politician to represent El Paso in the House.
Any discussion about party ideology, or about the issues facing the community immediately devolves into “well you must support,” fill in the blank, if you believe that. For example, Veronica Escobar has an issue that she desperately wants to keep out of the political dialog – her husband’s job deporting immigrants.
Bringing that up for discussion turns into, “then you must support Dori,” effectively turning the issue away from the deportations into supporting Fenenbock. For Veronica Escobar, that works to her favor. For public policy discussion, not so much, because it kills the dialog about how friendly El Paso is towards its immigrant population is. Not the, “oh, we’re 80% Hispanic,” or “we’re an immigrant community,” but a real dialog about how immigrants are faring in El Paso.
In México, there is a term that is used to describe those that support political parties. A party ideolog is referred to as a “militante pólitico,” or a militant party adherent. A party militant represents the ideology of the party, advocates for it, recruits others into it, and works to impose that ideology into public policy. Party adherents are referred to as the militancy. There is no ambiguity between party advocates and voters who want to make a choice.
There is clear distinction between party ideologs and unaffiliated voters.
In the U.S. electoral process, much of the narrative is based on whether the voter is a Democrat, a Republican or an Undecided. But, and here is the rub, within the party there are factions trying to wrestle control of the party ideology from the others.
In 2016, in the Democratic Party, there was the Bernie Sanders faction against the perceived establishment, the Hillary Clinton faction. Challenging Clinton was sacrilegious to many Democrats. The party was divided. And, it still is today. But, the binary nature of U.S. politics is what has weakened the Democrats.
In El Paso, because of the weakness of the Republican party which basically gives away the seat each election cycle, the Democratic party has become a means of being elected, not based on party ideology but on party label.
It is no secret that Dori Fenenbock leans towards the Republican Party ideology but, like many other former El Paso Republicans in disguise, she is running for the Democratic Party ticket to get into office.
This has created a debate on whether Fenenbock is true Democrat or not.
On the surface that might seem like a simple debate to have. But, it can’t happen because of the binary nature of the American political experience.
To challenge Fenenbock on her Democratic Party ideology, Veronica Escobar must also be challenged on her Democratic Party ideology.
That can’t happen in El Paso because the duplicity of the Democratic Party label would be exposed.
Much has been discussed about Fenenbock’s voting record, but few discussions have been had about Escobar’s strong ties to Donald Trump and the deportation of immigrants.
Because to do so would make too many Democratic Party ideologs too uncomfortable. Thus, the election of Escobar is nothing more than the anointment of the next in line.
In essence, El Paso’s next House representative will be the El Paso equivalent of the “dedazo.”
For those not in the know, the “dedazo” was the term used for when the PRI, in México, would anoint the next president before the official elections.
In a nutshell, that’s the American political system many argue is the best in the world.