By Robert A. Vella
Democrats versus Republicans? Forget that nonsense. The fundamental dynamic of the 2016 presidential election has asserted itself following the national party conventions and it is profoundly establishment versus populism. A growing list of high-profile Republicans are throwing their weight behind Democrat Hillary Clinton in order to defeat their own party’s candidate, Donald Trump (see: Meet the big-name Republicans supporting Hillary Clinton).
Strange bedfellows? Not really. The leadership of both parties are committed to maintaining the current neoliberal economic status quo. They disagree only on the margins. Establishment Republicans want more deregulation, more aggressive policies that empower businesses over workers and consumers, and are more sympathetic to the idiosyncrasies of America’s white Christian majority. Establishment Democrats want a corporatist regulatory state, minimum protections for workers and consumers, and are more sympathetic to ethnic and religious minorities. On free trade, foreign policy, national security, and the use of military force, their positions are virtually identical. On tax policy, social services, energy policy, and climate change mitigation, their positions are most divergent. Both play the dirty money-in-politics game with equal relish despite any rhetoric to the contrary.
While understanding that these marginal differences are certainly important, progressives such as myself cannot avoid seeing the palpable irony of Republican support for Hillary. We wonder if it is simply motivated by their fear of a megalomaniac like Trump in the White House, or if it is a realization that Hillary isn’t really so bad after all. In either case, this kumbaya togetherness between the Democratic and Republican establishments makes us distrustful of both.