Our political system needs reform first

Thisanjali Gangoda

Lately I’ve been skimming through the news, aggravated by nearly everything I’ve half-read. If it isn’t bad news, then it isn’t news at all. I feel like a broken record, constantly relaying in conversation the depressing status of current situations.

Health-care reform is at a stalemate, LGBT rights, women’s reproductive rights and labor rights remain unresolved issues, and the federal government continues to pour billions of dollars into two fruitless wars overseas. That was just a mention of a few of the thousands of unresolved public policy issues that are current, controversial topics in the United States.

In protest, I could throw statistics out at you, disparage past presidents, complain about disenchanted youth or throw my fists up in rage at the mismanagement of government. However, it wouldn’t change the fact that the United States has had a complete lack of progressive social movements since the Civil Rights Movement in the late 1960s.

Why is it that within the past few decades the American way of participating in politics is to party-bash and constantly vote against our own interests? Those who consider themselves to be left-wing, liberal-minded politicians and constituents should be ashamed of themselves, having conceded to the terrors of the right wing bureaucrats and conservative media giants. Those who consider themselves moderates have been too busy concerning themselves with what vote to swing in the upcoming gubernatorial elections, as well as what party to appease in the next Congressional meeting.

The issues are completely diminished in their subject and importance, as we cling onto our polarized ideologies and lose sight of what we are trying to accomplish in our failing systems.

For example, health-care reform is such a contentious issue today, so much that some Americans are acting as if it’s the first time in the history of the United States that the issue has been addressed. Since the days of former President Theodore Roosevelt, universal health-care coverage has been debated as a public policy and has consistently been rejected by Congress. Even former President Richard Nixon proposed a health-care plan during his term in office, going so far as to declare universal health care as an American right to fulfill a happy and productive life.

Today in Texas, roughly two-thirds of the state population has full health-care coverage, yet nearly 87 percent are staunchly against any plans for health-care reform. YouTube is teeming with countless videos of local town hall meetings exploding in anger over this issue, with people screaming and fighting about the godless, and possibly socialist, state of America.

Though health-care reform is indeed a complicated issue with many possible outcomes, it is the classic example of how Americans have been reacting to social change and progressive movements. Clinging to ideas of moral obligation and small government has become a sole function of the Republican Party, while Democrats have resumed the position of the patronizing liberal elite. Conscious voters are bored with the production put on by both parties, and are then alienated into a mind-numbing state of apathy.

Before we can truly push for social change, there needs to be talk about complete reformation of the American political system, starting with the way we handle political parties, and how to pass and enact bills. Perhaps then we can truly enjoy the freedoms we supposedly have and start voting for our own issues.

Thisanjali Gangoda is a senior political science major and columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact her at [email protected].