Imagine a substantive presidential contest: a general election pitting two people with major differences in their views and their visions for the future. Imagine the stimulation, the fireworks.
Now consider what the establishment seems to prefer: a rematch of competing “moderate” dynasties. That is what appears to be in store. In an echo of 1992, another Bush versus another Clinton. And, if history is any guide, with Wall Street and the Military-Industrial Complex standing to benefit either way.
To be certain, the Bushes and the Clintons differ in myriad substantive ways. But the clans also have demonstrated agreement on so much — when it comes to things like pro-corporate trade agreements and wars sold to the public based on the most dubious claims.
If American elections are to mean something, the public needs a real choice, between widely divergent views of the country and its role in the world. That’s why it is in the interest of democracy to see a race between diametrically opposed candidates.
It is in the interest of democracy to see a race between diametrically opposed candidates.
For example, Bernie Sanders and Ted Cruz.
The two men seem to agree on precious little, from domestic to foreign policy. Sanders, from green Vermont, believes Climate Change is a crisis, and supports strong measures. Cruz, from fossil-fuel ground zero in Texas, opposes most environmental regulations and mandates for renewable fuel.
Cruz supports eliminating the inheritance tax and abolishing the Internal Revenue Service. Sanders calls for raising taxes on dividends and capital gains, and supports a progressive tax system based on ability to pay.
Sanders opposed using US military force against Saddam Hussein. Cruz has called for installing anti-ballistic missiles in Eastern Europe in response to the Ukraine situation.
On almost every issue and approach, the candidates are miles apart.
Consider how exciting debates between the two could be.
Of course, if they were to win their respective parties’ nominations, they’d both be pedaling toward the center as fast as they could. But reporters would then ask them about their extensively detailed positions as articulated during the primaries, and they would feel compelled to defend those stances.
And that is exactly what our faltering democracy needs: a spirited discussion, and meaningful differences.
Agree? Disagree? Please weigh in with comments, below.
Related front page panorama photo credits: Background (Michael Vadon / Flickr)
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