Do we need more political parties?by Mark B. Evans on Dec. 07, 2012, under Uncategorized
Two parties are enough
By Emil Franzi,
Southern Arizona News-Examiner
“Damn your principles! Stick to your party!” said Benjamin Disraeli. Funny, could also be John Boehner shoving his real conservatives into line over his tax increase proposals.
I am constantly perplexed about the schizophrenia present in people who can complain on one day that our politicians are corrupt self-aggrandizing unprincipled hacks who stand for nothing and then complain some more when they actually act like they believe in something.
The problem with the two parties we have at present isn’t that they are run by small groups of zealots but that one of them masquerades as a moderate party and hides much of its agenda while the other doesn’t really support the agenda it claims to propose.
There is nothing inherently wrong with two political parties having opposite beliefs about economic theories, the relationship of states to the federal government, or the conduct of foreign policy. That is their history and why they were formed in the first place as coalitions of special interests (all interests being “special”). One cannot have any form of conflict resolution without first defining the conflict.
That is also how parties are formed in the rest of the world that has actual elections. There are several variables. We have evolved into the two-party system, the Brits to the two and a half, and most of the rest into multi-parties. Multi-party systems form governing coalitions after the election, two party systems form their coalitions before.
The strength of the Democratic Party coalition is their adherence to the coalition principle and the mutual support system that gives them. It strengthens and broadens their base. The unions, enviros, trial lawyers and others all know the rules and what benefits they derive from playing by them. That’s a concept Republican have yet to fully grasp.
When the Democrats are losing they tighten up and try to expand the groups they already have – which is why they will support almost anything that builds union membership and fight tenaciously on behalf of it. The Wisconsin recall attempt against Governor Walker is a classic example.
Republicans are far less unified and have never really accepted the varied portions of their own coalition. You can tell by how they responded to an election that was a tactical draw. Republicans have 30 of 50 governors and 25 state legislatures. They only lost the Presidency by 2.5%, kept the House by losing only eight seats, and only went down two in the Senate. The biggest single contributing factor to their 2012 and other failures was campaign incompetence and weak candidates, not the coalition itself. But high expectations were so thwarted that you would think it was 1936. Morale was higher after the 1964 Democrat sweep that left the party in far worse shape.
Republican disunity, played well by Obama and the Democratic media, already has the real fiscal conservatives in a brawl with the House leadership which would rather hop around on the poll data than keep its Tea Party and other groups happy. We also hear calls for the purge of social conservatives who are another big part of the GOP.
Some believe the GOP has gotten too hard line but that’s only on the surface and for the rubes to chatter about. They don’t stand firm mainly because most of their leadership never really believed in what they only appear to be standing for.
Don’t mistake the internal unity of the Democrats for any kind of tolerance of diverse views. There is no longer much room for pro-Life and pro-Gun advocates any more. Democrats have drawn their internal lines and defined their coalition without the old leavening of social conservatives.
Will these two coalitions last in their current configurations? Probably. The number of fed-up folks is still less than a majority and they are too diverse to coalesce around anything or anyone really viable.
. . .
We need more parties to give Independents a home
By Mark B. Evans
Damn your principles! Stick to your party!
- Benjamin Disraeli
America needs another political party (or two or three). The wild-eyed zealots who inhabit what’s left of the Democratic and Republican parties after two decades of flight by disaffected members have this country so tied in knots it can barely function.
Republicans and Democrats no longer oppose each other, they hate each other and they seem increasingly willing to destroy the country in their zeal to destroy the party they hate.
That they both wrap themselves in the flag and claim to love the country they’re betraying would be laughable if it weren’t so disgusting. And disheartening.
For the past 20 years the number of people identifying themselves as independent voters has grown exponentially.
In Arizona, Independents now outnumber Democrats and by the next presidential election they may pass Republicans too.
Nationally, there are no definitive statistics because 22 states don’t register voters by party. But in the 28 states that do, Republican and Democratic registrations declined between 2008 and 2012 in nearly every state while independent registrations rose in nearly every state.
Exit polls show that nearly a third of voters self-identified as an independent voter in the past election.
The conventional wisdom is that these independents are fed up with the intransigence of their former parties and are expressing their dissatisfaction with their feet, unwilling to remain in their party but unwilling to join the “other” party.”
They’re supposed to be conservative Democrats or liberal Republicans, the so-called moderates, but it’s more complicated than that. And the term independent is misleading because it implies they’re truly independent, that they pick and choose their candidates on merit rather than party, but the truth is former Democrats who reregistered as Independents still tend to vote a Democratic ticket. Same goes for ex-Republicans. True ticket splitters – voters who regularly vote for Republicans and Democrats on the same ballot – are rare.
So why have millions of Democrats and Republicans chosen to become political orphans – separating themselves from the infrastructure and security of the party?
Part of the answer lies in the changing political culture caused by the rise of new communication technologies.
Any candidate, elected official or party member who dares stray from the party’s generally accepted platform can be immediately and brutally chastised and ostracized for their heresy.
Consider retiring Sen. Jon Kyl. In 2005 Kyl stuck his neck out and advocated for a comprehensive immigration reform bill that would have provided a path to citizenship for more than 12 million illegal immigrants estimated to be residing in the United States. The bill languished but it helped him get re-elected in 2006.
In 2007, when opposition to illegal immigration was reaching its most fevered pitch, opposition to the bill in conservative media – talk radio, Fox News and blogs – forced Kyl and others to cave and the bill failed. It caused Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) to complain that the GOP had been completely hijacked by talk radio.
Kyl changed his position and after becoming Senate minority whip he became an illegal immigration hawk. He had to, lest he be dubbed a RINO and drummed from the party by the fire-breathing rock throwers who had taken control.
Party Puritanism has ravaged both political parties. The quest for the purest of the pure party members continues to beleaguer both. The GOP in Arizona is tearing itself apart as economic conservatives and libertarians battle the social/Christian conservatives for control.
In Pima County, several county GOP meetings nearly broke out in fist fights this year as allies of current county party chair Carolyn Cox argued with members who were supporters of former chair Brian Miller (they’re derisively dubbed “Paulistas” for their support of erstwhile presidential candidate Ron Paul) about the party’s campaign strategies in several local elections.
In Maricopa County, the Democratic Party there nearly split apart during the primary fight for the new 9th Congressional District between Kyrsten Sinema, Andrei Cherny and David Schapira. The divisions were so bitter than some Democrats wouldn’t campaign, endorse or support Sinema in her race against Republican Vernon Parker.
In other words, some Democrats would have rather have seen a Democrat lose to a Republican than the “wrong” Democrat win.
It’s these kind of internecine squabbles that is helping fuel the flight of millions to the political wilderness.
But there’s power in the party. Our entire electoral system, local, state and federal relies on it. And if the parties are broken, so is the government.
Political parties provide candidates education on how to run for office, fund raising and volunteer help, vital voter data and other support that is necessary to win office.
They help voters figure out faster who they’re for and against and they help get out the vote, increasing turnout.
No single political party can be a party for all, nor even two parties. But a party of none, which is the trajectory we’re on, serves no one.
Taking your toys and going home might be OK when you’re six. But for adults whose participation in the political process is vital for all of our prosperity, it’s destructive and dangerous.
We need more parties. Any Independents out there got a few billion dollars to help get one started?