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Party Split

 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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09 January 2021 22:42
 

Eric, Don Jr and other people of an equivalent influence tier on the right are floating the idea of a new political party in the wake of perceived betrayal from veteran Republicans. I’d like to table commentary on their motivation and isolate the idea of splitting a major party. I really like it. The first pass, cynical reason is that doing this would eliminate the Republicans chances of securing a majority of any kind for the foreseeable future. The more reflective answer, but still a bit cynical, is that the crimes of the major parties are largely the same. I think both major parties should split. Maybe into more factions than just two. Existing third parties should have their barriers to entry removed. Things like ranked choice voting and uniform federal standards of oversight should be instituted.

Is this possible? I think it seems most plausible on the Republican side since there is a legitimate groundswell of public support and (probably) enough money. I’d wager that it could matched on the left with the outliers led by a Bernie Sanders or similar character who represents an alienated portion.

Mostly, I’d like there to be some kind of central narrative that allows citizens of common material interest to find common political ground. I say find because I believe this common ground exists but it’s denied on both sides by people with a financial interest in denying it.

 
Poldano
 
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Poldano
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10 January 2021 00:49
 

I don’t think the U.S. could survive a truly multi-party political system. We’re far too violently tribal, and many of us cherish the notion that it is not acceptable to compromise with anyone who does hold identical beliefs. Compromise is unfortunately a necessity in a multi-party system.

 
 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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10 January 2021 07:04
 

I’m actually a believer in the two-party system. I think conflicting interests in US politics are best served as coalitions and caucuses within one of the two major parties.

The problem right now is twofold—first; the parties are too weak to effectively channel dissent and conflict within their ranks, allowing populist demagogues too much power and influence within the media and with the public. Second; the GOP has completely gone off the rails. We absolutely need a viable, broad-based center-right party in our system, but the GOP is no longer capable of filling that role.

So the party-splitting I’d like to see would be for the GOP to fade away into irrelevance while the Democratic Party temporarily achieves complete hegemony; eventually the latter while split along one or several major differences into two roughly center-left and center-right factions, and the latter will form the basis of a new, independent center-right national party. What’s left of the GOP can join that party but they will not be the base.

If that sounds familiar, it’s because we’ve already been through this once—that’s how the Second Party System came into existence. The Federalists slowly faded away, and the Jeffersonian Republicans became the only game in town even as the country continued to grow (and suffrage—among white men—expanded). Eventually, the Republicans split into the Democrats and the Whigs—but both parties shared similar commitments to Jeffersonian ideals of liberalism and democracy. The new liberal-conservative split in American politics was fundamentally different than the Federalist-vs-Republican conflicts of the first few decades.

There are a lot of reasons why that might not be possible now—the two parties are much more deeply entrenched and institutionalized than in the early 19th century; the GOP has a pretty sturdy electoral base in no small part thanks to controlling so many smaller, rural states; and the country isn’t going to expand at anywhere near the rate it did during the so-called “Era of Good Feelings”. But I just don’t see how the GOP dials it back after doubling down so many times on conservative White identity politics. American movement conservatism embraced right-wing cultural politics and libertarian economics at the expense of a more sober, moderate conservatism based on prudence, caution, and temperance. Conservatism in the USA needs to start over from scratch.

 
 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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10 January 2021 08:38
 

The problem isn’t that the parties are entrenched as much as the method of voting and representation is entirely geographical and first past-the-post.  Incumbents are almost always going to have a generic advantage, regardless of system, so the question becomes how hard is it to challenge an incumbent?  Since you have to get a plurality of votes, that means that with multiple challengers (more than 2 parties), challengers are splitting votes far more than the incumbent, and therefore unlikely to win.  Geographic + first past the post will always result in a two party system because it’s the only method of challenging incumbents.

If Republicans split, it means one faction will “die off” as a party and just be replaced.  We won’t have 3 parties, we’ll just have a new name for the other one.

 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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10 January 2021 08:47
 
weird buffalo - 10 January 2021 08:38 AM

The problem isn’t that the parties are entrenched as much as the method of voting and representation is entirely geographical and first past-the-post.  Incumbents are almost always going to have a generic advantage, regardless of system, so the question becomes how hard is it to challenge an incumbent?  Since you have to get a plurality of votes, that means that with multiple challengers (more than 2 parties), challengers are splitting votes far more than the incumbent, and therefore unlikely to win.  Geographic + first past the post will always result in a two party system because it’s the only method of challenging incumbents.

If Republicans split, it means one faction will “die off” as a party and just be replaced.  We won’t have 3 parties, we’ll just have a new name for the other one.

That explains why we have a two-party system; I’m talking about why the current two parties are so resilient. The remarkable thing about American politics isn’t so much that we have two major parties; it’s that we’ve had the SAME two major parties for 150-plus years. As noted—I’m advocating FOR a two-party system, I just don’t see that the GOP as it’s currently constituted is capable of holding up its end of the bargain. But, due to a lot of factors, it will be a lot less likely to fade away like the Federalists did, or to be fatally broken like the Whigs later were.

 
 
mapadofu
 
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mapadofu
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10 January 2021 10:51
 

Based on my understanding of the term, I’d say that the Republican Party is fatally broken (unless they achieve an authoritarian breakthrough…)

 
Skipshot
 
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Skipshot
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10 January 2021 10:54
 

Not a bad analysis, boys.  Trump threatened to split the GOP in 2016 if he did not get the party endorsement, and the GOP reluctantly caved.  Their gamble with an extremist paid off in the short term, but has been predictably disastrous.  The question probably swirling around the GOP leadership now is, do they continue with Trump or not?  Trump brought in 71 million votes, which is nothing to sneeze at, and those votes won’t go away because of one riot, and Trump will take a very sizable portion of those votes with him if he is kicked out of the party, and neither Trump nor Republicans will return to power until the split is resolved. 

Trump called the Republicans’ bluff in 2016, and he is calling their bluff in 2021.  Will the Republicans chose him or political exile?

[ Edited: 10 January 2021 16:13 by Skipshot]
 
weird buffalo
 
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weird buffalo
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10 January 2021 12:28
 
bigredfutbol - 10 January 2021 08:47 AM
weird buffalo - 10 January 2021 08:38 AM

The problem isn’t that the parties are entrenched as much as the method of voting and representation is entirely geographical and first past-the-post.  Incumbents are almost always going to have a generic advantage, regardless of system, so the question becomes how hard is it to challenge an incumbent?  Since you have to get a plurality of votes, that means that with multiple challengers (more than 2 parties), challengers are splitting votes far more than the incumbent, and therefore unlikely to win.  Geographic + first past the post will always result in a two party system because it’s the only method of challenging incumbents.

If Republicans split, it means one faction will “die off” as a party and just be replaced.  We won’t have 3 parties, we’ll just have a new name for the other one.

That explains why we have a two-party system; I’m talking about why the current two parties are so resilient. The remarkable thing about American politics isn’t so much that we have two major parties; it’s that we’ve had the SAME two major parties for 150-plus years. As noted—I’m advocating FOR a two-party system, I just don’t see that the GOP as it’s currently constituted is capable of holding up its end of the bargain. But, due to a lot of factors, it will be a lot less likely to fade away like the Federalists did, or to be fatally broken like the Whigs later were.

They aren’t the same parties though.  The parties are radically different from 150 years ago. They haven’t just switched places with each other (except on perhaps a few issues), but they are almost completely different together than what they were back then.  The parties have shifted and changed along with the rest of society.

For example, lets take religion.  150 years ago, religion was just kind of assumed, and while personally it was a big deal, politically it was kind of irrelevant.  Everyone was protestant and it was just assumed everyone was fairly religious.  After the communist revolution in Russia, religious expression became part of politics.  Instead of just being a background cultural assumption, it was now something to try and contrast yourself with how religious you were to those godless communists.  Then after the 60’s there’s a second major shift in religious politics away from central authority, rejection of expertise, and in many senses a rejection of the modern cultural world.  All of those elements certainly existed before, but their focus in politics is what changed.

We could discuss and dissect other issues like racial civil rights, workers rights, corporate rights, politics of gender, etc.  Things are constantly changing and shifting.  Yes, the two major parties have the same names as they did 150 years ago, but pretty much nothing else has remained the same.

Instead of trying to espouse these grand ideas and claims, I think you’d benefit if you spoke in less vague terms and looked at specifics a lot more.

 
Twissel
 
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Twissel
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11 January 2021 00:22
 

The GOP doesn’t split, it incorporates the unfashionable elements behind a layer of reflective surface, like an oyster pearl.

 
 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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11 January 2021 08:14
 
weird buffalo - 10 January 2021 12:28 PM

They aren’t the same parties though.  The parties are radically different from 150 years ago. They haven’t just switched places with each other (except on perhaps a few issues), but they are almost completely different together than what they were back then.  The parties have shifted and changed along with the rest of society.

If you’re going to be condescending you should offer insight beyond a 9th-grade level civics lesson. It’s not exactly esoteric knowledge that the demographic makeup, regional focus, and ideological orientation of the two major parties have shifted multiple times in the past century and a half. That’s I would think that in a discussion of American politics, it could be assumed we all share a baseline knowledge. Any AP American history student who’s done the required reading should be able to tell you that the USA has had, to date, six distinct, recognized party systems—and that from the Third Party System forward, these different systems have all featured the same two political parties.

This ain’t hard.

weird buffalo - 10 January 2021 12:28 PM

For example, lets take religion.  150 years ago, religion was just kind of assumed, and while personally it was a big deal, politically it was kind of irrelevant.  Everyone was protestant and it was just assumed everyone was fairly religious.[/qupte]

This is not true; or at least it’s quite incomplete. While you’re not wrong that Protestant hegemony was a factor in American life and politics, you’re ignoring a LOT. The rise of anti-Catholicism as a core political issue in the 1850’s. Opposition to the Mormon faith was a central platform of the early Republican party. The second Ku Klux Klan was just as much an anti-Catholic organization as anti-Black (the fact that Jim Crow had largely accomplished the aims of making African-Americans second-class citizens

weird buffalo - 10 January 2021 12:28 PM

After the communist revolution in Russia, religious expression became part of politics.  Instead of just being a background cultural assumption, it was now something to try and contrast yourself with how religious you were to those godless communists.  Then after the 60’s there’s a second major shift in religious politics away from central authority, rejection of expertise, and in many senses a rejection of the modern cultural world.  All of those elements certainly existed before, but their focus in politics is what changed.

The role of the religious Right in leading opposition to the New Deal, and then the Civil Rights movement, was MUCH more central than the dynamic you’re describing.

weird buffalo - 10 January 2021 12:28 PM

We could discuss and dissect other issues like racial civil rights, workers rights, corporate rights, politics of gender, etc.  Things are constantly changing and shifting.  Yes, the two major parties have the same names as they did 150 years ago, but pretty much nothing else has remained the same.

All of which is true; none of which is relevant to the fact that the current GOP has boxed itself into an ideological & demographic corner I see no way out of. The party is too deeply invested in dead-end rhetoric, nihilistic anti-government radicalism, and White evangelical cultural grievances to pull itself from the brink. In the past, the two parties saw massive shifts in demographics along with changes in ideology—the New Deal Democrats found a way to welcome white “ethnic” voters from the industrial Northeast along with African-Americans moving North for economic opportunity; the postwar GOP found a way to appeal to the growing suburban white middle class, and later to Southern Whites threatened by the Civil Rights movement. More recently, the Democrats have found ways to bring a majority of the growing first and second-generation immigrant population into the party, even as the GOP has managed to gain support from rural whites nationwide and working class whites from the post-industrial Northeast and upper Midwest.

The difference today is that the current GOP is no longer looking to broaden their coalition; that’s the strategy both parties pursued every time there was a shift in party systems, but the 21st century GOP is somewhat unusual in that they have chosen instead to double down on a demographic that’s a national minority that’s in relative decline, BUT has a lot of built-in electoral advantages. The closest analogy would be the southern Democratic parties of the Jim Crow era, who also chose to hold power through voter suppression and limiting rather than broadening their possible electorate, but that was not the strategy of the national party (the Fourth Party System partly breaks down partly because the Southern wing loses leverage over the national party as Northern Democrats begin welcoming Black voters into the party along with the growth of union members and others, giving the northern wing the ability to start calling the shots). An entire national political power choosing to double-down on a declining demographic and nationally unpopular policies is something really new. I don’t see how a political party that’s re-engineered itself to embrace anti-democratic minority rule can remake itself in a more positive, inclusive way. T

weird buffalo - 10 January 2021 12:28 PM

Instead of trying to espouse these grand ideas and claims, I think you’d benefit if you spoke in less vague terms and looked at specifics a lot more.

These “grand theories and claims” are pretty widely discussed among academics and grad students of American political history. It ain’t my fault this is all new to you.

 
 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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11 January 2021 08:18
 
Skipshot - 10 January 2021 10:54 AM

Not a bad analysis, boys.  Trump threatened to split the GOP in 2016 if he did not get the party endorsement, and the GOP reluctantly caved.  Their gamble with an extremist paid off in the short term, but has been predictably disastrous.  The question probably swirling around the GOP leadership now is, do they continue with Trump or not?  Trump brought in 71 million votes, which is nothing to sneeze at, and those votes won’t go away because of one riot, and Trump will take a very sizable portion of those votes with him if he is kicked out of the party, and neither Trump nor Republicans will return to power until the split is resolved. 

Trump called the Republicans’ bluff in 2016, and he is calling their bluff in 2021.  Will the Republicans chose him or political exile?

A lot of it’s going to boil down to primaries. If the Democrats are able to re-district a lot of states in a more sane and equitable way that creates a larger number of competitive districts, that would reduce the number of instances where the primary is essentially the general election. And that would reduce the power of highly partisan, ideologically motivated voters, which (hopefully) would give moderate/reasonable GOP candidates more leverage and a better chance of winning nominations. Or maybe the more likely outcome is simply that reducing the fear of getting primaried will encourage more GOP officeholders to push back.

We’ll see.

 
 
Brick Bungalow
 
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Brick Bungalow
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11 January 2021 09:09
 

I guess I’m wanting a clearer distinction between whether it’s desirable and whether its plausible. I think it’s totally plausible. At least at the level of public sentiment. I think a fair number of elections are swung to the underdog in large part because of a lack of solidarity. I think that’s how Trump won his first term. Aren’t most third parties essentially splinters of one major party or the other? Usually citing the insufficient zeal of the parent body.

The notion that a party could split and then simply re absorb is interesting. This seems to have had historical precedents. Although I’m not really educated enough to say.

The reason I’d like break things up is essentially because I feel like two parties often operate as one. Collaborating to retain power and shut out competitors. Cashing the same checks. Using the specter of the other side to justify the same thing. ‘Lesser Evil Arguments’. Nursing systemic cultural divides for utility rather than trying to bridge them.

Mostly I want to escape corporate plutocracy. I want there to be some check against the cycle of Senators who graduate to Lobbyist and ensure that executives get to write and edit our legislation. Our current two party system, seems to me, to have surrendered to this paradigm. And surrendered in the same way. In other words, there are not really Democrat and Republican lobbyists except in token numbers. The big donors cover the whole spread and aren’t really invested in the outcome of any big election. Their money is safe either way. This just seems antithetical to representative democracy. I want ordinary citizens to have some functional veto against that.

 
Jefe
 
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Jefe
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11 January 2021 09:13
 
Brick Bungalow - 11 January 2021 09:09 AM

Mostly I want to escape corporate plutocracy. I want there to be some check against the cycle of Senators who graduate to Lobbyist and ensure that executives get to write and edit our legislation. Our current two party system, seems to me, to have surrendered to this paradigm. And surrendered in the same way. In other words, there are not really Democrat and Republican lobbyists except in token numbers.

Pretty much.
Both Democrat and Repub parties are essentially right-skewed corporate capitalist parties with a few outliers at the ends of that spectrum.  The differences are probably fewer than the similarities when one considers this factor.

 
 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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11 January 2021 10:11
 
Jefe - 11 January 2021 09:13 AM
Brick Bungalow - 11 January 2021 09:09 AM

Mostly I want to escape corporate plutocracy. I want there to be some check against the cycle of Senators who graduate to Lobbyist and ensure that executives get to write and edit our legislation. Our current two party system, seems to me, to have surrendered to this paradigm. And surrendered in the same way. In other words, there are not really Democrat and Republican lobbyists except in token numbers.

Pretty much.
Both Democrat and Repub parties are essentially right-skewed corporate capitalist parties with a few outliers at the ends of that spectrum.  The differences are probably fewer than the similarities when one considers this factor.

On issues like gay marriage, immigration, and several other social & cultural issues, the Democrats are to the left of every other major center-left party in the West; the GOP are much more radically right-wing on economics and even many social issues than every other major center-right party in the West. The GOP is the only major center-right party in the West that’s openly opposed to the principle of universal health care, for example.

There are issues, particularly economic, where the Dems are to the Right of most of their major center-left cohort, but much of that reflects American realities as well as having to account for how radical the GOP actually is.

I think we Americans tend to both over-estimate how much control/leverage our two parties have over the nature and direction of the corporate world and the economy in general; and under-estimate the degree to which it’s normal for the major parties in ANY functioning democracy to share a lot of basic assumptions about how the economy should work, among other issues. Some—not all, but SOME—of what looks like collusion is really just acclimating to hard economic realities that political parties have very little sway over.

That’s not to say there aren’t a lot of dysfunctions with bipartisan parentage.

[ Edited: 11 January 2021 10:25 by bigredfutbol]
 
 
bigredfutbol
 
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bigredfutbol
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11 January 2021 10:12
 
Twissel - 11 January 2021 12:22 AM

The GOP doesn’t split, it incorporates the unfashionable elements behind a layer of reflective surface, like an oyster pearl.

Easy for later generations to valorize Goldwater’s libertarianism when you forget about the open support for segregation.

 
 
Jefe
 
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11 January 2021 10:46
 
bigredfutbol - 11 January 2021 10:11 AM

The GOP is the only major center-right party in the West that’s ....

I, myself, wouldn’t describe the GOP as ‘center-anything’. They’re righties all the way.

And, IMHO, even the left-leaning Republicans are skewed right by the inherently right-leaning US government.

[ Edited: 11 January 2021 10:48 by Jefe]
 
 
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