Thursday, November 30, 2006

Connecticut realpolitik

If you look back at the history of political realignments in this country, other than the formation of the Republican Party (which coincided with the industrial revolution and the push to develop the vast resources of the north american continent) they tend to happen within the two party structure. Advocating a third major party tends to miss the point - the political forest is made up of individual trees.

The Party affiliation of elected officials is very relevant in some ways and pretty irrelevant in others. It is relevant in terms of which caucus gets to set the agenda in the Legislature and Congress. It is not so relevant in terms of how legislation ends up actually getting written and what gets passed into law - not irrelevant, but not predictive.

Party affiliation is also less relevant to how campaigns and the vast majority of the business of politics and governance is conducted as well. Not irrelevant, but to take campaigns as an example, it is only one factor (and not the dominant factor) considered in how to win a competitive race. Who gets to be on Line A and Line B is usually pretty decisive - and there are those instances where for concrete reasons, that standard is superceded.

I respectfully suggest that the fact that realpolitik has triumphed (and Lieberman is a concrete and potent case in point) over the hankering - "left" and "right" - for some sort of ideologically pure fairy tale where the good guys are wearing white hats and the bad guys black hats is worth the time it takes to appreciate it. Acquired tastes often are.


Anonymous said...

Not sure you are breaking new ground with this post chris mc, but I think your point is correct. Not a very sexy topic for this board, I guess.

Despite our countries history with the 2 party system, I would love to see a viable 3d party emerge. In my opinion, both national parties have veered to far to the extremes. The Republican Party seems to have 3 distinct factions: Christian conservatives or the far right; mainstream conservatives; and moderates. The Democrat Party seems to have 2 large factions: far-left (almost socialist); and moderates. The Democrat Party has numerous sub-factions within those larger factions: unions; minority groups, etc.

In my opinion, the moderates are a dying breed in both parties and that is where I would love to see a third party emerge.

Imagine a Giuliani-Warner ticket, or an Evan Bayh-Susan Collins ticket, just as 2 examples, running as the candidates for this new middle ground party (anybody suggest a good name)?

That would truly shake up American politics for the better, in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I don't mind a third party. It is just hard, i.e, costly to get it off the ground. Perot did about the best, and he was a spoiler enabling Bubba to get elected.

Chris MC said...

The Perot voters were coopted during the first Clinton term and in the second Clinton campaign.

That is the history of "third parties" in the United States in a nutshell - a movement or group (or whatever you want to characterize it) forms and gathers strength until it is a political force worth reckoning with.

One or both of the major Parties integrates this new force into their camp. Disaffected members of the Party start to peel off and either become affiliated with the opposition major party or are marginalized.

It is the political ecosystem of the US since industrialization and the Civil War.

Something very much like that is going on in Connecticut on a couple of levels, on both sides of the aisle (and beyond).