The Democrats would be the gold digging trophy partner, who trades her attractive appearance and the provision of favors for power and financial gain. She is accepting and tolerant of a variety of characteristics others might find objectionable... but in return she expects her partner to tolerate a pattern of infidelity and lies. She has a very controlling attitude regarding health-related behavior, but in return she promises lifelong care. She is a high-maintenance partner, requiring ever increasing financial gifts and flattery to keep her happy.
Republicans would be the publicly presentable partner, who trades promises of stability and the appearance of propriety for power and control. She is less tolerant of variety in personal characteristics, objecting to unapproved religious practices, sexuality, and other lifestyle choices. She promises to be less intrusive into the privacy of her partner, then initiates blatant intrusions in the name of protecting against outsiders. She is more frugal than her counterpart, but she still overspends, often while complaining about the spending of her counterpart. She is a finicky and demanding partner, requiring conformity to certain social and religious standards to maintain her approval.
The general public is obviously dissatisfied with both relationships, and has made his thoughts known on multiple occasions by arguing against the behavior of his partners - the Democrats spend too much, and the Republicans aren't all that far behind. Both parties are too critical of Mr. Public, making demands ranging from slightly unreasonable to outright ridiculous. A great deal of conflict results from this, with Mr. Public regularly becoming so fed up as to evict his current partner from the house in favor of the other one, only to reverse his decision, reject the other partner, and go back to the first after a few years. At the same time, Mr. P. has a regular habit of flirting with other parties, knowing full well that his partners like to play with other constituents, as well.
Lately, both partners have become creepy-stalkerish, threatening interference with Mr. P's internet communication, taking liberties with Mr P's privacy, and exploiting Mr. P's fears to trick him into allowing his rights to be slowly and carefully chipped away. There are even hints that, as has happened in the past, our partners are in part poised to begin using violence.
Instead of leaving the relationship, Mr. P has on occasion strayed from it, dabbling with Libertarian and Independent affairs, but no matter how abusive his partners have become, he always returns to the perceived security of the known relationship. With a minority of more aware exceptions, this is the dysfunction suffered by the American public; we know we're being used, abused, misled, and manipulated... and yet Mr. P keeps returning to the same system that does it to us because of the history, the promises, the guilt trips, a belief that there is no escape, and a fear of what will happen if we try. Instead of blaming our politicians for their own actions, we blame each other.
So, that's it, I guess. My epiphany is that America suffers from Battered Voter Syndrome.