Idealism vs. realism in US politics

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By: Nate Sikora – First Year, History

The political landscape of the 2016 election season has given rise to new discussions regarding public policy and political ideology. From observation, the clashing of these conversations split into two policy categories: “realistic” and “idealistic”. The former can be defined as contemporary policy stances of entrenched partisans and the latter as policy stances one can find in philosophy books that are generalizations of what ought to be. To explain further – realistic policy positions, for example, stretch from increasing the minimum wage, cutting taxes on the rich and middle class, to restricting the law on women receiving an abortion. Idealistic policy stances are similar to that of equal protection under the law and a government that works for all people and not just the wealthy. Idealistic policies are by nature more conceptual.

These beliefs are applied to the 2016 election and the direction the United States is heading as a governmental entity. The threat to establishment control of the United States government has never been greater. The popularity of Sanders and Trump keeps big donors and party leaders up at night in a cold sweat because democracy might actually make them pay for the damage they have done to our democracy from political campaign financing. People who donate millions to political campaigns or Super PACs, like the Koch brothers, do not donate that much money just because they can; they want influence. The donation is an investment. Quid pro quo. It also just so happens these donors are from big, profitable industries like oil, pharmaceuticals and banks. Money in the political system affects every other political issue. There is a reason why wise people say “follow the money.” This is no different.

The wealthy elite does not want any radical change because the system is currently working for them, hence the reason they are wealthy in the first place. And since the wealthy control all the politicians, the politicians do not want any radical change either.

The result is a country that has the wealthy elite and politicians (both usually go hand in hand) who are above everyone else and only offer the choice of “realistic” policies. The American people today are neglected and exploited and have been fooled by the media to buy into these “realistic” ideas because those are the only options available. We are simply pawns in their game to control power and ensure the system remains stable. But both Trump and Sanders have spat in the eye of the establishment – and for good reason.

From discussion with adults regarding the policy positions, about Sanders especially, their responses rely heavily on “it’s unrealistic; you can’t change that much” and “we don’t have all that money.” The dismissal of change has run rampant in America today. The reason: the elite, the ones who have created the system, have killed any source of oxygen that change has been given. The true case is that citizens who believe “radical” change is unattainable are actually ignorant of the system under which they live. They are unconscious of the fact that they are at the mercy of political elites and the wealthy that strategically pick and choose what is seen as “realistic” and what is seen as “idealistic” and therefore deem it radical and unattainable.

Idealism is not immaturity, but rather a confident platform that goes against the political folkways of contemporary politics. Contemporary politics are infused with legalized bribery with campaign contributions and the news media who’s a wing of establishment political leaders that breeds polarization and makes Democrats and Republicans enemies of one another. This is not a time for Bernie supporters or Trump supporters to “grow up” and “come back to reality.” It’s time for unconscious adults to grow up and realize that the system America is accustomed to is rigged and the antithesis to the ideals of our founding fathers.