Election eve -- it's about time to bring this up.

This phrase "battered voter syndrome" started popping up in various venues around the time of the 2004 election, when things were still up in the air. It's relevance, sadly, has not dimmed a notch, and if anything has gotten several shades brighter and hotter. The parallel which it draws from is obvious -- battered wife syndrome (or battered spouse syndrome if you want to be sure to include the small proportion of males who are truly physically battered in a relationship), the condition where the physically and, generally, psychologically weaker partner in a relationship sustains physical torment at the hands of the other, and yet refuses to open their eyes to that bleak reality.

It is the victim, in this instance, who chooses to "blame the victim," who chooses to hew to the objectively false belief that this time will be different, that the failure to govern amongst the politicians whose ideology appears to match their own is not a symptom of dishonest political hacks inhabiting the broken system which so appeals to those types, but is the fault of the other political party or of the ideologically impure (read: willing to compromise and innovate cooperatively) within their own party, which would be enabled to enact triumphant policies if only, if only the voters could straighten out their act and elect the ideologically pure for some sustained period and not be fooled by "moderates."

Here's a snippet of information for your consideration, taken from an actual Domestic Violence website:
Domestic violence and abuse are used for one purpose and one purpose only: to gain and maintain total control over you. An abuser doesn't play fair. Abusers use fear, guilt, shame, and intimidation to wear you down and keep you under their thumb. Your abuser may also threaten you, hurt you, or hurt those around you.
Sound familiar? The problem lies, naturally, in the "two party" monopoly which has grown into the most vicious and self-aggrandizing of two-headed monsters. Like rival sports teams or religions or Coke and Pepsi, the two main parties compel their faithful to form irrational emotional attachments to the party, to foolishly believe the success of the organization in obtaining positions of political power will align with and serve the voters' own interests. But the constant grappling for party power is just that, a contest for power for the sake of power itself, one which provides less of a boon to the lives of the loyal than does the supremacy of one team over another in a sporting championship.

Like the apologies of a battering husband when he fears he's finally just gone too far, election cycles are all about short-term promises for immediate results -- mere bandages over the festering wounds of long term injury -- combined with threats over how much worse it will be if "the other side" gains or holds power (there being, in the formulation of the abuser, only one "other side"). And, given enough time, the battered voter will even forget the past beatings inflicted by the abuser, and will remember only the kind words and flowery promises of the apologetic periods.

This is why, whenever an alternative movement for some kind, any kind, of common-sense ideological consistency gets rolling, it is coopted and neutered by the party most closely aligned with it, within a cycle or two. This is why our system is set up to push candidates to 'run toward the edge' to get a nomination, to 'run toward the middle' to win a general election, and once elected to do no more than pay lip service to the needs or concerns of constituents, or electors, of the faithful voter. The victors instead turn their true energies toward their singular goal: aggrandizing further power to their own political party, whichever it may be, while making it seem that theirs represents one of only two options to exist.


Stepping out of generality for a moment, in tomorrow's culmination of this particular election cycle, the 2010 midterms, there is some glimmer of an opportunity. There are, admittedly deeply flawed candidates like Lisa Murkowski in Alaska, Charlie Crist in Florida, and Lincoln Chafee in Rhode Island who, whatever their shortcomings, have managed to at least temporarily divorce themselves from the party machinery (and, on an odd note, in all three cases from the Republican Party -- Chafee seeming to be the most honourable of the lot, and not coincidentally the most likely victor). This may not stick -- taking the example of Joe Lieberman's 2006 "independent" bid which has since yielded a steady Democratic vote in the Senate. But the fact that any of them is enjoying even the potential to prevail over candidates from the major parties is a ray of hope to the possibility that what needs to happen to save this country from further abuse: the victimised voter needs to take a cold, hard look at their abuser, the two-headed snake of our current Republican-Democrat quasi-divide, and tell it: "I'm leaving you."

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