Monday, May 30, 2016

Nice to Get Confirmation

A very brief thought here, about an article that is now somewhat dated, but, then again, more recent articles also support the same premise, so, though I intended to write this a while ago, I still believe the premise is valid.

In "The Most Absurd Debate..." I argued that, while many think the Trump candidacy points to a split up within Republican ranks, I would argue the Democrats show equal signs of splitting. And this article, I found on Townhall, seems to support that thesis.

I wrote enough in the earlier article that there is little for me to add here. But, to offer a brief summary, it seems, on the right, the nativist/populist/nationalist/paleocon wing of the Republicans is splitting from the economic conservative/libertarian wing. Social conservatives and moderates seem to be somewhat split between the two, with some moderates accommodating Trump despite his rhetoric, and others remaining in opposition, and social conservatives seeming to split based upon their other beliefs, whether they are more libertarian or populist/nationalist.

On the left, the split seems to be between the more dedicated, doctrinaire socialists, and the (I know this will make some cringe) more moderate Clinton-Obama wing which seeks a more gradual drift to the left. There are probably other forces at work as well, some other internal factions drifting to one side or the other, as on the right, but I am not well enough versed in Democrat factionalism to tell at the moment precisely who is choosing which side.

What is clear is that, in both parties, there is a strong division, and this current election cycle is highlighting that divide. Whether it heals in subsequent elections, with one or both parties emerging reunited, or becomes a permanent schism, remains to be seen. As I argued in "Minimal Reforms", among other posts, our system has been designed to strong favor the preexisting two parties (congressional committee appointments, the primary system, campaign finance laws, and so on), but it is not a completely insurmountable obstacle, and it is possible, if the schism becomes acrimonious enough that one or the other party could split to form a new third, or even fourth, party in future elections.

Which is actually kind of an interesting prospect, as the one massive hurdle facing third party presidential candidates is that, even if elected, they would not have congressional allies, since third parties have made even less headway in state elections (mostly because of the catch-22 situation where a congressman from a third party would have no committee clout, which they cannot gain until sufficient third party candidates are elected to congress). If an existing party fractured, with congressional representation being split, it would actually create the ideal third (or fourth) party, one with existing membership, congressional representation and, at least in part, an existing and experienced party infrastructure. So, perhaps, this party infighting may be the only chance we have to see a viable third party in our lifetimes.

On the other hand, pressure is strong to close ranks. Everyone fears splitting the party will give the election, and congressional control and all the rest, to the opposition, and thus parties tend to close ranks despite very strong factionalism. If it could keep paleocons, necocons, nationalists, libertarians, moderate Republicans, social conservatives and others int he same big tent, this worry can accomplish a lot.

However, out present situation is unique in that both parties are in the throes of internal conflict. So maybe, just maybe, if it appears both parties may fragment, it will overcome this reticence, and allow a restructuring that would be otherwise impossible.

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