One of the strangest things in American politics is how evenly we are split between the two major parties. Look at the last few months of the popular vote between Hillary Clinton and Donald Trump.
Here is the same chart with % chance of winning
The second chart at times looks like a landslide. However, the first chart is neck and neck. This is a poll for voting for two very different candidates. Whatever your politics are, I think you could agree that they are wildly different people with huge chasms in their policy objectives.
How are we as a society so closely matched between democrats and republicans? One possibility is that the system has a market dynamic that forces parity. In other words, imagine two political groups Alpha and Beta. They have no specific policies. Then they start to develop their positions. Each one of the parties chooses policy points and gets some people to love them and some to hate them.
Over time, each party moves only slightly and accrues some voters while shedding others. However, if a party ever gets wiped out in an election, they immediately change their tune to get the votes back. In fact, what it means to be a republican or democrat or federalist or even Whig has changed dramatically over the years. The democrats in the early 20th century were the racists and the republicans were the party of stopping slavery. Then in 1948, everything was turned on its head. (Look it up)
This is my only explanation, but it feels wrong to me. The market of ideas doesn’t seem so flexible. Here is a list of my policy objectives in general order of importance:
- Progressive Supreme Court (Highest priority!)
- Energy Grid Upgrade
- Cut Defense Spending by 50%
- End Gerrymandering
- Continue/Tweak Affordable Care Act
- Allow government to study gun violence (duh!)
- Research and combat climate change
- Fund Arts / schools / basic research (like we used to!)
- Support women’s reproductive rights
- Tax corporations/billionaires more
Not everyone has a top 10 list, but they should. They should have a list of policies and decide who supports their agenda the best. However, 99.9% of people do not have this. They vote the way they would vote for American Idol based on who like the “like” and who they want to have a beer with. We are mostly uninformed, uneducated people who are asked to vote on questions we are ill equipped to answer.
It’s like deciding which sports team to be a fan of. You usually choose the team your parents supported, simple as that. I am still stumped as to how each election is nearly 50/50. It seems that with all of the challenges facing the world that one sides (democrat) policies would become more acceptable. However, this is not the case.
Some economist should make a podcast about this. (If it already exists, please point me in the right direction)