Photo: NASA (Goddard Space Flight Center)

Photo: NASA

I’m not sure exactly how long they’ve been aware of it, but I think at this point it’s very clear that most Americans realize that both major political parties are worthless at best, and insane at worst.

Consider the pattern:

  • George W. Bush and a Republican Congress preside over a government distinguished by incompetence, endless war, the enrichment of moneyed interests at the expense of all others, and contempt for women, gays, minorities and the rule of law.  They lose the 2006 and 2008 elections in a landslide.
  • Barack Obama and an overwhelmingly Democratic Congress preside over a government distinguished by incompetence, endless war, unemployment, foreclosures, the enrichment of moneyed interests at the expense of all others, and contempt for women, gays, minorities and the rule of law.  They lose the 2010 elections in a landslide.
  • Barack Obama and a divided Congress add draconian budget cuts to the mix, coupled with tax cuts for the rich.  This is presented as “shared sacrifice” despite being the exact opposite. The cuts will probably grow to include Medicare, Medicaid and Social Security, and they still won’t be enough for the GOP.  Meanwhile, at the state level, Republican governors (and some Democratic ones) pursue austerity even more viciously.

The 2012 election is still too far off to call, and the complicity of Obama and the Democrats will probably hurt them almost as much as it hurts us.  But the early returns are not looking very favorable for Republican governors nor, as it turns out, Republican representatives either.  And as awful as Obama has been, he still looks better than most of the creeps and crazies in the Republican presidential pool.

I don’t believe that a majority of voters really bought what the Republicans were selling in 2010 – they were simply disgusted with what Obama and the Democrats had delivered (or failed to), just like they were disgusted with Dubya and the Republicans in 2006 and 2008.   The outcome of the 2012 elections will likely hinge on who they view as more responsible for the country’s misery, although whichever party benefits from the electorate’s disgust, they should realize that it’s not an endorsement: We voted for them because we had to vote for – or against – somebody.

It’s worth noting that, unlike the Republicans, the Democrats have the ability – at least in theory – to break this back-and-forth cycle of rejection any time they want.  All they have to do is live up to the principles they claim to believe in, renounce their corporate servitude, and start governing on behalf of the 99% of us who aren’t plutocrats.  I can all but guarantee that it would pay off generously for them at the polls.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t seem to be the kind of payoff they’re interested in.