In A Two Party System – Running With Only One

The US has the problem that in a 2 party system the US is only running with 1. This NYTimes article by  Paul Krugman catches the essence of the argument made increasingly in this blog here and here:

Mr. Romney is seeking the Republican presidential nomination, and whatever his personal beliefs may really be — if, indeed, he believes anything other than that he should be president — he needs to win over primary voters who really are severely conservative in both his intended and unintended senses.

So he can’t run on his record in office. Nor was he trying very hard to run on his business career even before people began asking hard (and appropriate) questions about the nature of that career.

Instead, his stump speeches rely almost entirely on fantasies and fabrications designed to appeal to the delusions of the conservative base. No, President Obama isn’t someone who “began his presidency by apologizing for America,” as Mr. Romney declared, yet again, a week ago. But this “Four-Pinocchio Falsehood,” as the Washington Post Fact Checker puts it, is at the heart of the Romney campaign.

How did American conservatism end up so detached from, indeed at odds with, facts and rationality? For it was not always thus. After all, that health reform Mr. Romney wants us to forget followed a blueprint originally laid out at the Heritage Foundation!

My short answer is that the long-running con game of economic conservatives and the wealthy supporters they serve finally went bad. For decades the G.O.P. has won elections by appealing to social and racial divisions, only to turn after each victory to deregulation and tax cuts for the wealthy — a process that reached its epitome when George W. Bush won re-election by posing as America’s defender against gay married terrorists, then announced that he had a mandate to privatize Social Security.

Over time, however, this strategy created a base that really believed in all the hokum — and now the party elite has lost control.

Literally the wheels are coming off the GOP party and the US can ill afford that for three reasons:
1)the problems  domestically and in the World continue to fester and get worse. Just look at Europe and the Greek debt crisis for one example – then say  Iran, North Korea, Pakistan, environmental degradation and economic upheaval.
2)Moderates and compromise are necessary part of politics. But moderates have been purged from the Republican party. So much so that compromise is a dirty word. But that means the bitter partisan confrontations over deficits, Global Warming, Religious issues etc. This in turn means the US will be at a disadvanatge economically and politically as its decision-making capacity falters badly. S&P was unfortunately right on in downgrading US debt rating for exactly the reasons they cited – gridlock in national politics.
3)Just when rational and well reasoned approaches to policy are absolutely essential, one player has the distinct tendency to misfire irrationally. Just look at the Tea Party supporters. The Republicans for 30 years added mightily to the deficits under the “Starve the Beast”. Then in the past 2 years they have switched there allegiance and  are supporting No New Taxes and Draconian debt reduction – an absolute about-face contradiction. But these reports show how the Economic Downturn has put new stresses on the Social Safety Net financed by Government – the very TeaPartiers that complain about government handouts are increasingly dependent on them.

 

 So the US is running on only one political cylinder – the Democrats though subject to the siren song of lobbyists are at least addressing the major issues. Meanwhile the Republicans are kneejerking to the next Super Duper scheme that will generate temporay political advantage. Literally, Paul Krugman is right – the party elite has lost all control as evidenced in the bizarre Presidential Primary Race.

Is a Third Party a viable alternative – maybe for its purging effect. The Canadian scene is instructive. It took the NDP several decades to emerge just as the undisputed loyal opposition in Canada’s 4 party system. This despite the fact that the NDP had a huge influence  in policy making during its formative years.  Thus a third party movement emerging from the Republican party would have almost a nill chance of Congressional or Presidential victory. But by laying waste to the GOP in both Congressional and the Presidential election, the party would be purged of power…then it would have to re-form in both senses of the word. This might not be a bad outcome.

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