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View Diary: The effect of 'Americans Elect' (270 comments)

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  •  Exactly the opposite. We don't have TWO parties. (0+ / 0-)

    We have the Lib/Progressive Ds (NE and West Coat mostly), the Conserva-Ds (and their 'moderate' stooges, er, allies), the Hard -Right Thugs, the Harder-Right Thugs, the God'sParty Thugs, the Teaheadist Thugs, the Ron Paul Thugs, and the Rump-Not Totally Crazy Thugs.

    The duopoly construct has been obselete since at least the 1970s, and is perpetuated by inability or non-desire to deal with the complex tapestry that US politics actually has become. (Or pushed by 3rd party fetishists, but that another pathology entirely.)

    Consider, we don't even have a national D party.  We have Democrats who tend to be the more liberal candidates in their regions (and I means voters as much as candidates).  But, e.g., southern non-urban Ds are conservative when compared to NE Ds (Blue dogs anyone?), Western Ds likewise  -though they are often called more 'moderate' (Feinstien is a perfect example).

    Thugs a likewise divided, though more along ideological/religious grounds that just happen to coincide often with regions (e.g., southerns tend to be more evangelical but not always, see Iowa).

    Thinking the problem is two parties is just a intellectual lazy as thinking it is partisanship (as if this country hasn't been extremely partisan since the Federalist/Anti-federalists).

    •  Sounds like you're arguing against yourself. (0+ / 0-)

      As to lazy thinking, what do you call it when somebody purports a panoply of parties without a corresponding panoply of candidates, conventions, and caucuses?

      LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

      by dinotrac on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 05:15:31 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  Really? Missed the Blue dog caucaus? Progressive? (0+ / 0-)

        Western? Etc.

        Yes it is intellectual laziness.  WHY do we have only 2 umbrella organizations?  Stopped to ask that?  Its not exactly a secret among political scientists, and has been widely published (as have the observations in my prior post).  Too many pundits, though, seemingly don't bother to actually read the data or analysis of the folks who actually study this.  And note: I don't blame voters or posters necessarily, as I assume they are mostly repeating pundits stupidity for lack of contra knowledge.  GIGO, as they say.

        Simply put: We have 2 umbrella organization/parties b/c of the nature of our government & electoral structure: the winner take all by-state, President/congress system.  It forces creation of electoral coalitions, which then use the brand of one party or the other. (Parliamentary systems use governing coalitions, i.e., it doesn't matter who the parties are, only what #s they win and deals they are willing to make after the elections.  See, Brit LibDems getting in bed with Tory's despite being ideologically anathema to each other.  Related in the winner-take-all vs. proportional voting systems, which tend to reinforce 2 party vs. multi- models. See, Brit system vs. most European).  This is the reason serious 3rd parties have never flourished in this country (they take over one or the other 'brand' parties) and are usually ad hoc single election and candidate driven (TR, Thurman, Wallace, Perot).

        The duopoly model requires a degree of cohesiveness and discipline (and disciplinary power) that hasn't existed for decades.  The parties haven't had much real power since the post-Watergate campaign finance reforms and Buckley began the process of making them irrelevant in the only game that really matters: money.  Rather than the party wagging the candidate, as the 2 party meme would require, the tail now remakes the dog every 4 years in his image.  Yes, the general ideology of each party is more one or the other of the lazy left/right division perpetuated by the media.  People seek out likeminded folks.  But, do you really think Clinton was anywhere as liberal as the overall D voters?  Do you forget that Dukakis ran against ideology?  Do you really think GHW was anywhere near as con as Thug voters?  Or even that W was in other than rhetoric?  Much of the non-idiotic criticism of BO has been based around the argument that he is not sufficiently partisan.  (Note: idiotic means most pundits, not diarist or commentors here.) Do you really think the majority of Thug voters share Wallstreet Robot's positions (whatever they are today?  

        Now, the effect of Presidential visibility/power in our system tends to create a false appearance of cohesion for the party that has the Presidency.  When W was Pres, all Thugs were 'W Thugs', b/c he cracked the whip if they weren't.  Democrats are less inclined to either use (BO) or follow the leader, but they too are generally willing to vote for 'their' President's policies even when they don't agree with them (See, Clinton: welfare reform, NAFTA, gun control) inter alia to avoid 'bringing down their President', recognizing that significant numbers of voters will transfer identification of the POTUS even to ideologically opposed members of his own party (See most recently Blue Dogs).  

        But, when the party does not have the Presidency, cracks between Congress-party members become chasms.  Witness the disintegration of Thugs in the House.  It is no coincidence that Cantor appears constantly poised to do to Boehner what was done to Gingrich, who was toppled by a coup in his own Thug ranks.  What little cohesiveness Congressional Thugs have seems mostly a product of 1) common hatred of BO, and 2) fear of being Tea-primaried.  The first is neither proof or product of a 'duopoly', merely a natural result of having a non-coalition executive.  The second shows the lack of party cohesion even in the often believed more monolithic Thugs, i.e., broadly speaking, it demonstrates the existence of 3 actual Thugs parties (business-, hard-right-, crazy-hard-right-) even while showing why those divisions perpetuate (Tea-evangelist only have majorities of voters in certain regions and so generally their office-holders come from those regions, while other regions favor other factions, e.g. the NE is generally business-thug).

        Finally, as you don't bother to explain how I supposedly 'argue against' myself, I can neither directly address it, nor am I dissuaded from thinking you simply do not want to deal with the complexity of the actually parties in this country.

        I summarize: We do not have 2 national parties.  We have 2 brands (D/R), which are umbrellas for various factions, which may claim the same ideological labels but in fact mean very different things and are often divided along regional lines.  Thus, for example, while non-urban southern Ds may be considered 'liberal' in the region, their 'liberal' positions are generally considered 'con' by majorities of Ds in other regions.  Since we have a coalition political/governing structure (with 350 million how could democracy be otherwise?), ths explains in large part why Ds sometimes seem 'spineless' or in 'disarray'.  Finally, this same structure explains why 1) viable 3rd party movements get absorbed into one or the other brands and thus cease to exist as independent parties, and 2) why a viable liberal 3rd party only damages real chances of liberal candidates to win governing majorities.

        Clear now?

        •  Can't help but argue against yourself, right (0+ / 0-)

          on down to your conclusion, even if you want to substitute the word "brand" for party.

          We shouldn't have two national parties because, as you correctly point out, the assorted colorations of thought and philosophy in this country is not a binary phenomenon.

          Three or four or five parties that can actually win Congressional seats -- now that would be interesting.

          LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

          by dinotrac on Mon Jan 02, 2012 at 02:51:26 PM PST

          [ Parent ]

          •  You don't seem to understand there is a big (0+ / 0-)

            difference b/t 'party' and 'brand'.  A party exercises control over its members and their actions.  The parties used to do that by denying $ and organizational ('machine') support and thus often defeating waywards in elections.  They have not been able to do so for many years.  I don't consider the hyjacking of the Thug primary by a rump of loonies as 'party' discipline and I can pretty much guarantee the Thug Powers That Be don't either.  Anymore than when it was just the evangelicals.  And there is no similar group in the Democratic party.

            I understand the differences are subtle and require looking behind surfaces.   That doesn't make it any less true.

            As for the idea of more than 2 Congressional parties, that would only work if the Presidency were replaced with a parlimentary system.  Once you have a single person who 1) has so much real powers, and 2) becomes symbolic head (tho not true head, for the Ds at least) of the party, then the stakes are two great not to form electoral coalitions, which rapidly become parties and only 2 - which is exactly how it developed in this country. See, 1789 - 1860.

            •  Awfully condescending for your understanding. (0+ / 0-)

              There is one very big thing that parties do if you are a voter:

              The offer up candidates.

              We don't get to go the closed-door meetings or "in" cocktail parties.  We get to vote.

              All of those lovely niceties you mention are meaningless if we can't vote for them.

              It's the difference between poly-sci class in school and what we dumb schmucks out in the real world have to live with.

              LG: You know what? You got spunk. MR: Well, Yes... LG: I hate spunk!

              by dinotrac on Tue Jan 03, 2012 at 05:11:35 AM PST

              [ Parent ]

              •  Oh yes, how condescending. Since I've been working (0+ / 0-)

                in electoral and governing politics since I was able to vote, 36 years ago, one of my majors 37 years ago was poli-sci, I worked with polling pioneers, in campaigns from local to President, in governance, for elected officials and in groups that tried to work and refrom those from the outside.

                so, of course, you no doubt have superior... intuition?  

                You sure don't have any data.

                And as I said in a prior post, and as you continue to willfully ignore, there a literally libraries of books written from gigatonnes of real world data that support my position.  Yours.. not so much.  Go read some.  It would do you good.

                P.S. Your 'definition' of party is so narrow and so perfectly tailored to support your argument to that exclusion of all else, even contrary data and history, and so foreign to how it is actually defined, that I am tempted to think you simply don't know what you're talking about and just chose to try a cheap - and sophomoric - debating trick.  But, you'd no doubt call that 'condescending'.

                PPS: I would also suggest that your frustration at the results of the system might be due to your self-defeatingly narrow definition.  If you think parties or politics ends on election night... boy are you doomed to be forever disappointed.

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