The mere fact that Mitt Romney is even within striking distance of winning this election is an incredible testament to two things: a) the rank incompetence of the Democratic Party, which would have this and every other election for the next half century sewn up if they were a little less money-hungry and just tried a little harder to represent their ostensible constituents, and b) the power of our propaganda machine, which has conditioned the entire population to accept the idea that the American population, ideologically speaking, is naturally split down the middle, whereas the real fault lines are a lot closer to the 99-1 ratio the Occupy movement has been talking about since last year.Of course, that presumes that there is much difference between Romney and Obama. As Lance Selfa pointed out in an article (from ISR 85, not available online) entitled From "hope" to hopeless: The Democrats in the Obama era:
Throughout most of the period of unified Democratic control of the government, Obama baffled and demoralized his main supporters, including the millions who were moved to political action during his campaign, by the fact that most of his problems appeared to be self-inflicted. Clinton's "triangulation" appeared to be a defensive adaptation to an unfavorable environment.... But armed with a strong public mandate and a large Democratic majority, Obama continued on the "centrist" path that Clinton charted. The question is why.
The explanation has everything to do with the profile of the Democratic Party in the neoliberal era. While the Democrats have always been a big-business party, they are more openly so today than in the heyday of the "labor-liberal-civil rights" era of the 1940s through the 1960s. Commenting on the seeming inability of the Democratic congressional majority to push through fundamental reforms, Harvard University social policy expert Theda Skocpol explained: "Even in the majority, Democrats still have many ties to business interests and quietly look for excuses to avoid doing things that offend them. Not being able to act without 60 votes is a ready excuse."
Obama tried to straddle this contradiction [between the reliance on labor for votes and finance capitalism for funding] with a stance that appealed to "bipartisanship" and a reasonable approach to national problems. While this may soothe elements of the Washington establishment, it's exactly the opposite of what the climate of economic and political polarization demanded. The attempt to hew to a "centrist" course in the midst of a crisis that demanded radical solutions ended up pleasing no one.This fundamental contradiction may explain why Romney and Obama are so close in the polls. In a system with no choices, what difference does it make which you chose?