After the United States (US) left Afghanistan, the country saw its longest war come to a non-victorious close. What it did not see, however, was its status quo change or even shake at all.
Over the past 40 years and six Presidents, the US public has been in crisis after crisis. From the so-called “wars” on drugs and terror to the economic crisis in 2008 to the electing of a pseudo-fascist maniacal President, US tax dollars have been squandered over and over again. These three happenings may seem unrelated in theory, however, they all have one common denominator: neoliberalism.
When put in practice, neoliberalism has destroyed the American working class, with lack of intervention being reserved mostly for the wealthiest corporations in the world in the form of tax cuts.
Neoliberalism is commonly regarded by scholars as a political ideology that prioritizes “hands-off” capitalism and lack of overall government intervention within a country’s economy.
It was popularized in the 1980s with the election of Ronald Reagan as president; Reagan’s main economic stance was if the US gives enough tax cuts to the bourgeois, eventually that extra wealth will “trickle-down” to the workers of the country.
Safe to say, it has not worked.
Wages of workers have stagnated, the wealth gap has increased and more and more marginalized communities feel the effects of unbridled capitalism to this day—40 years after Reagan’s inauguration.
With common political discourse in America being a tale of two sides, liberals and conservatives, it is fair to ask how every President from Reagan to Biden has fallen under the neoliberal umbrella.
The answer is quite simple, however, they are all proponents to some degree of open trade and free markets, making nearly every attempt possible to limit government control.
While the Republicans have their conservative social values and the Democrats have their liberal social values, where the two groups intersect is fiscal policy.
The two-party system in America is broken. The Republican right is the party of big businesses whilst the Democratic “left” is another proponent of big business. Each party opposes the Protect the Right to Organize Act, each party opposes Medicare for All and each party opposes the Green New Deal.
Each party opposes nearly every single change that benefits the working class of America in any way. m/
While it is easy to blame the past six Presidents for lacking any structural change to the way our republic works, they only have so much power themselves.
Instead, as a country, we must shift our focus to the hundreds of lawmakers using outdated practices and procedures to make decisions about our lives daily.
Take for example the filibuster: an archaic Senate voting loophole (from segregation) that gives power to the minority by delaying the Senate voting procedure. Laws surrounding labor reform were shut down in the 1970s by the filibuster; the same happened during the 1990s and even as recently as the early 21st century.
Every single one of these bills had majority support.
The Senate also does not reflect the views of the American people. Medicare for all has widespread support from the public, yet will not pass in this era of US politics because the Senate continuously blocks it and all related legislation. The Senate is another massive part of the political gridlock that grasps the US.
Another major issue with neoliberalism and current American politics is the massive pools of money being funneled into the establishment.
Because the Democratic National Committee (DNC) and Republican National Committee (RNC) have a monopoly on American political spending, donors from massive corporations essentially can choose who they want platformed and who they want silenced come election time. The US suffers from this as a result due to mainstream politicians like Joe Biden and Mitch McConnell having been painted as the “moderate” candidate for the past 4 decades.
Neoliberalism thrives off of a lack of the existence of this Overton Window in the government.
US politics over the past 40 years have seen working conditions and wages stagnate. Overall, the country has gotten better for the rich, and worse for everyone else.
It does not have to be this way.
In order to shake up US politics in a way that benefits the masses, workers and their families must put pressure on their government to serve them and not big business. Run pressure campaigns to abolish outdated systems like the filibuster and the Electoral College that prevent true democracy from taking hold.
We as the public deserve legislation that reflects our true opinions and values. This is a statement that is not political nor polarizing. We as a public deserve true democracy, not the continuous pile of monetarily poisoned garbage that Washington trots out on a 4-year basis.
Neoliberalism on its own is a harmful political ideology. However, its adverse effects on US politics have shown its ugliest quality: a gateway to facism and far right-wing politics (see Donald J. Trump).
Three things are guaranteed in life: death, taxes and American capitalism destroying the masses.
When the next election season rolls around, do your duty as a citizen and vote for those who will change the status quo and benefit the workers. In the meantime, work with organizations seeking to remove money from politics, abolish the outdated Electoral College and shift our republic into a true democracy. Think of the civilian lives lost in Afghanistan, the minimum wage worker working 75 hours a week to sustain their life and the union worker who’s rights as a laborer are threatened.
When you think of US politics next, think of neoliberalism. Think of how the Overton window it has established is hurting millions, and take that to the ballot box this November.