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Anyone and everyone can easily see that Washington has been in near constant gridlock since Newt Gingrich became speaker.  Civility, time honored methods and precedent have given way to a cynical strategy to attain power at any cost.

From the New York Times - "The Last Moderate"

To Cooper, the true villain is not the Tea Party; it’s Newt Gingrich. In the 1980s, when Tip O’Neill was speaker of the House, "Congress was functional," Cooper told me. "Committees worked. Tip saw his role as speaker of the whole House, not just the Democrats."

Gingrich was a new kind of speaker: deeply partisan and startlingly power-hungry. "His first move was to get rid of the Democratic Study Group, which analyzed bills, and which was so trusted that Republicans as well as Democrats relied on it," Cooper recalled. "This was his way of preventing us from knowing what we were voting on. Today," he added, "the ignorance around here is staggering. Nobody has any idea what they’re voting on."

The Last Moderate, NY Times

Many people think the current hostilities and disagreements in Washington and state capitols are over honest differences of opinion.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The Republicans have a cynical strategy to deliberately make congress, the Senate and government in general look bad.   The idea being that if Republicans are "against government" and they frame Democrats as being "for government" when government has a bad Reputation it will hurt Republicans less.

A couple of years ago, a Republican committee staff director told me candidly (and proudly) what the method was to all this obstruction and disruption. Should Republicans succeed in obstructing the Senate from doing its job, it would further lower Congress's generic favorability rating among the American people. By sabotaging the reputation of an institution of government, the party that is programmatically against government would come out the relative winner.

Good Bye to All That,

Of course having informed and representative voters going to the polls can't be allowed if Republicans have their way:

Undermining Americans' belief in their own institutions of self-government remains a prime GOP electoral strategy. But if this technique falls short of producing Karl Rove's dream of 30 years of unchallengeable one-party rule (as all such techniques always fall short of achieving the angry and embittered true believer's New Jerusalem), there are other even less savory techniques upon which to fall back. Ever since Republicans captured the majority in a number of state legislatures last November, they have systematically attempted to make it more difficult to vote: by onerous voter ID requirements (in Wisconsin, Republicans have legislated photo IDs while simultaneously shutting Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices in Democratic constituencies while at the same time lengthening the hours of operation of DMV offices in GOP constituencies); by narrowing registration periods; and by residency requirements that may disenfranchise university students.

This legislative assault is moving in a diametrically opposed direction to 200 years of American history, when the arrow of progress pointed toward more political participation by more citizens. Republicans are among the most shrill in self-righteously lecturing other countries about the wonders of democracy; exporting democracy (albeit at the barrel of a gun) to the Middle East was a signature policy of the Bush administration. But domestically, they don't want those people voting.

Good Bye to All That,

The Tea Party is the Republicans rabid pit-bull.  The only problem is that a rabid pit-bull can be uncomtrollable.  Many current Republicans have said that the Tea Party is going too far or that candidates can "go too far to the right."  Of course the objection is not because of the political leanings, but because even Karl Rove can see that a "far right" candidate could not win a general election.

You don't want these candidates moving so Right in the Republican primary that it becomes impossible for them to win the general election, because it will become a self-defeating message in the primary.
People want to win. They don't want somebody who goes so far to the extremes of either party that they lack a chance to carry a victory off in November."

Rove warns GOP about electability

This leads to an interesting question: are US political parties close to a schism?

As I see it the current Republican party can easily be split into three new political parties:  The Tea Party, Mainstream Republicans (most of the current party) and Social Republicans (most moderate Republicans, like Ms. Snow and Ms. Collins).  There is already evidence of instability in the Republican party, so a complete split is not much of a stretch.

The Democratic party has never been a really cohesive political party.   The "Blue Dog" (fiscal conservative) Democrats can easily split to form their own party, leaving traditional or "Social Democrats."
Add in a new Progressive party and a Green party and the US can have SEVEN active political parties.

Of course this would be massive political change.  This is not completely unprecedented.  The US has gone through many political party changes - remember the Whigs, Bull Moose parties/

If change like this happened the US could really have more representative government, as smaller parties could align more closely with people's beliefs.   As it is now the choice between "two sides of the same coin" does very little towards true representation and the majority of people in each party do not identify with  much that either one stands for.

The multi-trillion dollar question is: how would this help US politics?

To start with, no single party could dominate unless the people of the USA actually chose to elect a super majority of that party to congress.  As it is now one party gets elected, more or less in reaction to kicking out the other party. This is repeated in the opposite direction 4 or 8 years later.  

With multiple parties the US would have to start the process of having coalition governments like much of the rest of the world.   The Greens, Progressives and Social Republicans could form a coalition,  Blue Dog Democrats, Mainstream Republicans  could align together.  Maybe there could be three or four serious candidates for President.  


Do you think the US would be better off with more political parties?

50%8 votes
18%3 votes
31%5 votes
0%0 votes

| 16 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Splitsville for US Political Parties? (0+ / 0-)

    "The right to be heard does not automatically include the right to be taken seriously." -- Hubert H. Humphrey

    by Candide08 on Wed Sep 07, 2011 at 08:30:46 AM PDT

  •  We would be better off with more political parties (0+ / 0-)

    But there's a reason we have a two-party system: our electoral system.

    Plurality systems like FPTP always effectively lead to two-party systems because of vote splitting:

    You have to have electoral reform like IRV and proportional representation in order to get a multi-party (5+) system.

    •  Could you please explain the acronyms? eom (0+ / 0-)

      The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. -FDR

      by SoCalSal on Wed Sep 07, 2011 at 09:20:43 AM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  RE: (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:

        FPTP = first past the post. Basically it's a system where there is no requirement that a candidate win a majority of the votes, just a plurality.

        An example would be a three-way race for a single office (such as Governor) with the three candidates receiving 40%/35%/15% of the vote. The first candidate "wins" on the ground of having the highest absolute number of votes, even though that number is not a majority. The video above explains why this leads to a two-party system over time.

        IRV = instant run-off voting. It's basically like the system above but it adds a majority requirement so that candidates can't win without a majority of the vote. Its unique element is that it doesn't require multiple run-off elections, but allows voters to rank their choices numerically (1, 2, 3, etc) and if no one candidate receives a majority, then the candidate with the least votes has their votes recycled to the voters' #2/3/etc choice as many times as necessary until there is a majority for one candidate.

        Some good wiki links:

        •  Opps, meant 40%/35%/25% for that example (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
        •  Thanks for the explanation. (0+ / 0-)

          I see the wikipedia article shows dismally low use of IRV in the USA, broader use in countries with parliamentary democracies. I've concluded that parliamentary democracies are far superior to this dysfunctional constitutional republic that we're burdened with.

          The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. -FDR

          by SoCalSal on Wed Sep 07, 2011 at 10:44:44 AM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  Make the House 1000 members (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:

    No reason, in this day and age, state delegations could meet and vote in a central location in each state, and one proxy member of each party could be in Washington at any one time.  1000 member house makes the districts smaller (about 300,000 people), meaning you really do live close to the people you represent- it would be harder to gerrymander out Dems in urban areas in red states, and it would be 500+ more people to lobby - which puts more of a burden on K street.

    The object of persecution is persecution. The object of torture is torture. The object of power is power. --George Orwell

    by jgkojak on Wed Sep 07, 2011 at 09:19:03 AM PDT

  •  Multiple parties could be an improvement, but (0+ / 0-)

    I don't think they are likely or practical with current campaign rules; i.e., the flood of money and influence by corporations and very wealthy, and 18-month campaigns. Those candidate/campaign contributions will still go to the most corporate-friendly candidates and lawmakers, leaving out progressives and greens.

    The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little. -FDR

    by SoCalSal on Wed Sep 07, 2011 at 09:32:04 AM PDT

  •  Junk It. There Are Reasons No Major Nation Uses (0+ / 0-)

    our Constitutional system, and now that our astronomical geographic advantages of natural resources, territory and isolation have been leveled out by 2 centuries of global progress, we can see how the Constitutional system is letting the global economy drag us farther and farther back compared to other democracies.

    Maybe if it'd been devised half a century later when framers might have not merely feared the threat of corporations, as some of ours did, but would have seen enough of their behavior to have devised a system that could govern them. But it wasn't, and their system by now may not be able to survive.

    Trying to jury rig this prehistoric Constitutional system to adapt to the corporate age, while being burdened by the American worship of elements of that are abject threats to civilization, would be much riskier and more problematic than just pasting-in one of the parliamentary systems that are well proven around the world in the modern age.

    A multi party political body would be enabled, and there'd be the chance for early elections to be triggered when a shift in popular sentiments is sensed, which is one of the few good structural features of democracies that can help people power somewhat check corporate influence on government.

    The Bill of Rights has to be revised too, especially press freedom, the specifically corporate freedom which is mostly responsible for the horrific propaganda environment of the "democracy" of the global superpower.

    We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

    by Gooserock on Wed Sep 07, 2011 at 09:39:19 AM PDT

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