Two-Party System Is a Lie
By Drew Magary
Published October 5, 2018
Brett Kavanaugh will likely be confirmed as a Supreme Court justice this weekend, which is dismaying on roughly a million different levels. There is the fact that Kavanaugh remains credibly accused of sexual assault. There is the fact that he has proven, under oath, to be a small, dishonest, unremarkable man. There is the fact that his confirmation process was a sick joke and an insult to anyone with a brain. There is the fact that he will provide conservatives with a ruling majority on the court for a generation, and will almost certainly codify laws that will exempt corrupt presidents from wrongdoing, cement oligarchic rule over America, and ensure economic and social inequality for as long as America exists. You and I both know that the damage Kavanaugh has done pales in comparison to the damage he will do to people, and that will make this a very dark weekend in what has been a seemingly endless run of them.
But what really kills me is knowing, deep down, that even if Kavanaugh had somehow been 86ed during this process, conservatives probably would have ended up winning anyway. They would have found some other squeaky clean, Federalist Society pud to nominate, and that pud would sail through confirmation for the simple dint of not being Brett Kavanaugh. Knocking him off would have been a satisfying but short-lived victory, because the current political system is designed so that liberals have to exert the maximum possible effort to achieve the smallest possible victory, if they gain such victories at all.
The fact that liberals had to rely on Jeff Flake—who will leave the Senate soon to take a private sector job where you will need a special security pass if you want to accost him outside an elevator—to make ANY headway against Kavanaugh tells you everything you need to know about how our current system is set up. You do not live in a two-party system. You live in a one-party system, and that’s true whether or not the Democrats happen to eke out a future Presidential win or score a temporary majority of the House next month. Thanks to gerrymandering, voter suppression, conservative Supreme Court rulings, the electoral college, and a bicameral legislature that gives California the exact same number of Senators as fucking WYOMING, Republicans get to play with loaded dice every time they go against Democrats.
I know it’s comforting to think we can vote our way out of this. I’m voting in November and I hope you do as well. But even if that mythical Blue Wave washes ashore, it’s clear now that voting isn’t enough. If voting had been enough, Donald Trump wouldn’t be president right now. As it stands, some American voters are more equal than others, and those voters are white, rural, and conservative. As a result, we have a political system where, in order to win, Democrats must please EVERYONE, while Republicans do not. It’s also why Democratic leaders can’t cast out absolute garbage senators like Joe Manchin, who votes with Trump so often they may as well go in on a land deal together.
And what makes it worse is that politicos and horse race watchers happily accept these terms of engagement, presenting our current political model as a fair fight.
We just experienced a week in America where the president laughed at a potential sexual assault victim, accused two others of being crisis actors, and oversaw a sham FBI investigation into a Supreme Court nominee at the behest of a Republican Congress that demanded the Bureau not find anything unpleasant. Oh, and he committed tax frauds for decades. And yet here’s Chuck Todd, NBC’s lead political analyst, boiling it down to a “rhetorical war.” And that's before we get to Nebraska infant Ben Sasse, who is following the standard playbook of whitewashing conservative sins via airless complaints about partisanship and Washington being a mean and naughty place.
As my Deadspin colleague Albert Burneko wrote, there’s a very clear reason why Republicans are ramming Kavanaugh through approval even though he is, from an ideological standpoint, expendable. This whole charade was designed by Mitch McConnell to crush the left’s spirit and get the left to accept that they will never win anything. Once Kavanaugh graces the bench, he’ll make a hissy face and issue terse, decisive rulings to codify the electoral protections that conservatives enjoy even as they disgrace themselves over and over again. And they won’t have to worry about the likes of Chuck Todd calling out the game as rigged, because ol’ Chuck is too thick to notice, and too busy enjoying steak lunches to care.
And thanks to a Citizens United ruling that Kavanaugh probably has framed in his mancave, business and politics are now so inextricably linked by law that liberals cannot thrive without kowtowing to corporate interests that will always, ALWAYS have a natural conservative bent to exploit workers, strip benefits, and deregulate everything. That’s how you end up with Chuck Schumer—the only man on Earth who brokers worse deals than Donald Trump—leading the Democrats despite almost always acting against the interests of his constituents. The fact that Schumer isn’t screaming MERRICK GARLAND at McConnell on the Senate floor all day long tells you all you need to know about how compromised Schumer is. Republicans are allowed to be ideologically pure, even gleefully chasing voters away if they don’t like the cut of their jib. Democrats can often afford no such luxury. They cannot, or will not, campaign on the obvious fact that Republicans Are Screwing You, because the system demands they round up a handful of stray Republican votes if they want to eke out a 51-49 win. If Democrats NEED a Joe Manchin to survive, then they’re hardly Democrats at all.
We don’t have two parties. We have one party that can do whatever the fuck it wants, damn the consequences, and we have one measly opposition party that is constantly reduced to betraying its ideals just to make any headway. And there’s no way out of this until the Chuck Todds of the world acknowledge that fact, and until the elected Democrats actively work to unfuck this rotten electoral infrastructure. Because the day Brett Kavanaugh takes his seat on the Supreme Court, he will actively begin to make life difficult for millions and millions of people, and he will act as the de facto 12th Man for a Republican Party that has been plotting this fix for DECADES. The scales of justice will tip nearly vertical, and the advantages Republican enjoy will only grow.
Republicans are a blight upon America. They are a force of cruelty and malevolence, and their goal is ultimate, endless dominion over you, the little people. Period. I don’t know what more can happen this month to prove that fact to you. Two women stood outside an elevator last week, begging a do-nothing schmuck to summon the barest scrap of courage. That courage was never going to materialize, and no one should have ever been forced to count on it to begin with. But that’s the system we have. If it’s allowed to remain in place, soon we’ll all be helpless, waiting outside an elevator and asking for mercy that never comes.