When American Politics became Professional Wrestling

Watching American politics seems to me to be much like watching professional wrestling. Back in my childhood, both Hulk Hogan and the Rowdy Roddy Piper (and a whole host of heroes and villains) were all owned and operated by the same World Wrestling Federation. No matter who you root for, or who wins in the ring, the money all goes to the same place. 

In American politics, it seems the same kind of thing is true. No matter who wins the elections, the same interests gain profit and power from the results. The parties differ in “style” to appeal to different sets of people, but not in “substance” of ultimate goals for American wealth and power. 

One party is styled to be heroes to the interests of traditionalist America. The other party is styled to be heroes to the interests of cosmopolitan America. One party arouses sympathy for unborn children, the other for immigrant children. One speaks to the dignity of the rural working man and his wife, the other to the dignity of urban minorities and gender identities. One stresses Patriotism, the other stresses Identity. Both sides demonize the other as un-American and inhuman. 

But neither offers policies that are radically different fiscally or militarily, if by “different” we look outside of our American consensus and compare how our system runs versus Northern Europe or Russia or China or other places with radically different forms of economic and military configuration. For instance, the Clinton era continued and strengthened most of the economic and judicial policies of the Reagan-Bush era, and would have continued military policy too if the Soviet Union hadn’t collapsed. 

Also, the Obama era not only continued, but even strengthened, the basic commitments of the Bush II era in terms of the increasing the surveillance state, the wars in the Middle East, drone warfare, black site prisons, prosecuting whistleblowers, bailouts for the financial industry, and more. One need only to look at the similarities across five administrations (1980-2016) in terms of overall decrease of taxes, reduction of social safety nets, increased prison populations, increased commitment to petroleum, and ongoing use of military intervention to increase economic opportunities in key regions (cf. treatment of Israel, Gaddafi, and Hussein). All the same "substance", different "style".

Thus, In the ring of American politics, we can cheer on our favorite heroes, and boo our hated enemies, but ultimately it all goes to fund and uphold the same structure and system. So is there a “third way” of doing ethics and politics outside of this professional wrestling paradigm? A way that does not succumb to the “divide and conquer” monopoly we live in now? I don’t know. 

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