The 2016 election has engendered upheaval of the traditional methods of politicking and obliterated normal partisan identities. It is unsurprising that the dominant hegemons should push back, shamelessly advancing the trite and obviously fallacious bromide of binary party choice.
In the wake of the first debate, which only underscored how pathetic the results of long-entrenched didactic thinking are, the powers-that-be doubled down.
In a testament to how serious the devolvement of the establishment is, President Obama asserted while stumping for Hillary Clinton that a third party vote is a vote for Donald Trump; his wife trotted out a similar argument, stating a protest vote is tacit support for Trump. This is hardly original thinking, but merely a more direct and intense version of the tired banality that “a vote against Candidate A is a vote for candidate B,” which both parties trot out every election cycle.
Such hackneyed quips shouldn’t be dismissed as sophistic rhetoric uttered in the heat of the moment so as to ignite the passions of the party base, especially since such populist fervor does have electoral consequences.
Rather, attempts by high-ranking officials to shape the election through dubious rhetoric need to be recognized for what they are: authoritarianism.
They are the elected official asserting their own rationale over the voter. The absoluteness with which they are advanced speaks volumes about the official’s regard for conscience and freedom of thought; they have nothing but contempt for ways of thinking which undermine their stranglehold on power. It demonstrates an ego dangerously unhinged from the careful balance of the social contract.
Democratic societies balance the self-interest of one against the other. The binary thinking of modern politics hinges on the principle that the unlimited discretion of one politician supposedly possessing greater innate insight than the general polity makes them better qualified to be the arbiters of the lives of others. This is an attitude towards leadership unmoored from divided power.
However, in making such arguments, the emperor, so to speak, has no clothes. To retain power, he must speak in such stark terms, but he does not realize quite what he reveals about his epistemology by doing so. He is blissfully ignorant of the nakedness which the “binary choice” rationale reveals for his power lust.
Or worse, he simply does not care because he realizes how entrenched his position is, not just in the vaunted institutes of social power, but in the minds of voters.
Constituent belief in a binary political system is the life force which perpetuates its existence.
Conscience does not answer to Republican versus Democratic didactic thinking. The American political divide exists as a convenient way of understanding basic attitudes towards power structures. The fundamental divide between localism versus federalism in no way touches or diminishes other differences in perspective. They are real; they exist. And they exist because of infinite disparities between the backgrounds and personalities of individuals which should be celebrated, not used to shame voters into yielding to the demands of party for conformity and the sake of victory at the voting booth.
For there is no point in victory if it does not advance an outcome which reflects the integrity of the individual conscience.
Also published on Medium.