Our friend and former colleague Noah Rothman has a column at Commentary Magazine this week titled In Praise of the Two Party System. In it, he responds to a piece at FiveThirtyEightwhich is yet another retelling of the long forecast end of the Republican Party. Since it’s a wonky topic which resides near and dear to my heart, I dove into it expecting to see a debate over the merits of having two parties versus either a one party system or a hodgepodge of special interest groups more typical of parliamentary governments. Sadly, that wasn’t the case.
While definitely worth a read, this is more of an argument about whether or not the GOP is on the verge of collapse rather than what the American political landscape would look like in its wake. Noah invokes some of the familiar patter of the Left, referencing pundits who declare that the Republican Party is, “characterized by breathtaking whiteness … shackled to a base composed of rigid ideologues who could not abide even the slightest deviation from orthodoxy.” I agree with his retort which states that the success of Donald Trump effectively lets the air out of that argument. Like any political party or movement, a change in domestic or international events can turn a group or party on a dime and quickly realign priorities. This portion, however, was of particular interest.
It is, in fact, both “cultural grievance” and a directionless antipathy toward global economic shifts, driven by enhanced manufacturing productivity at home and cheap labor abroad, that serves as the glue holding the GOP’s voters together. The party is poised to rest its hopes on the idea that inveighing against these trends is all that they need to do to win a national election. If the GOP makes 2016 a referendum on modernity, it will likely lose. Republicans with a vested interest in that outcome will insist that a bad night for the party in November demonstrates that the findings of the 2012 “autopsy” were right. They might say that this is a party doomed to lose national elections for the foreseeable future until it can cobble together a new coalition.
I disagree with that pretty much in its entirety. Arguing for a government which prioritizes American prosperity ahead of serving as either policeman or benefactor to the rest of the planet is hardly an argument against modernity. I could go on in that vein at length but I am more interested in the question of why we have a two party system and, even more so, how it has remained so stable over such a long period. We arrived at that point fairly early in our history and even the names haven’t changed much in nearly two centuries. Yes, there have always been third, fourth and fifth parties galore, but they don’t represent any real threat to suddenly seize the White House or a majority in Congress. Why do some of the European parliamentary systems have so many political parties which never seem to congeal into two dominant beasts? Beats me. Why did the indigenous peoples of North and South America never invent the wheel or figure out how to smelt metal?
Still, as Noah correctly notes, most of those parliamentary systems fold naturally into coalitions of these smaller parties because it’s the only way to wrest majority control. Doesn’t that look something like one of our own major parties in a way?
We’ll always have a two party system the deaths of the elephant and donkey have been greatly exaerated
Letting the Left define you is always a losing proposition.
The GOP has proven that the Left’s definition of them is as phony as most of the Left’s other definitions in other areas.
It’s called being mugged by reality.
Jazz responds to Noah on his false dilemma:
Again, Noah has let the Left define ”modernity” as ”leading from behind” while impoverishing ourselves at home.
The Left equates ”modernity” with ”globalism.”
He is again letting the Left define him into a corner from which he cannot win, from which the GOP cannot win.
It is sometimes called ”being a cuckservative” to ask the Left for permission to say one thing or another.
It is always a losing proposition to do so.
The Left, if ASKED for permission, will always back its opponent into a losers’ corner!
The days of the GOP being lead by cuckservatives seems to be over with Trump.
Listen to the speakers at the convention.
They do NOT allow the Left to define their parameters for discussion.
They speak of building a wall, of stricter immigration checks, of rebuilding our military and the VA, of using coal, of dumping excessive regulations, of lowering taxes.
In other words, they are speaking of things the Left wants agreement on that they should not be mentioned.
(A widening, even breaking, of the Overton Window.)
Today we get to see if Ted Cruz will endorse Trump (which Trump is not asking for) or, if Cruz will show the convention just how small and un-inclusive his viewpoint really is…..and how few there at the convention agree with it.
So can we assume by your comment that you think Ronald Reagan was “small and uninclusive” when he did not endorse Gerald Ford at the 1976 convention after he lost to Ford?
@retire05: I was talking about the response of that viewpoint at the RNC convention tonight, should Cruz decide to not only not endorse, but to make any sort of call for something else other than a Trump – Pense ticket.
Not Ted Cruz, himself.
His potential viewpoint.
As of now, we have no idea which way Ted Cruz will go.
You commented the Ronald Reagan ”did not endorse” Ford in 1976.
Here are Reagan’s full comments from the RNC convention.
How did he end his remarks?
I can only hope Ted Cruz is this magnanimous tonight.
What we’re witnessing is the death of the GOP, and it’s replacement by a populace nationalist party oriented toward a personality rather than stated principles.
Why do I say this? Because the personality cult is obvious, and because no one can say with any certainty what his unwavering guiding principles actually are. They’ve changed frequently, and there’s a mismatch between words and deeds.
That is NOT a personal endorsement, no matter how you want to spin it.
The GOP remains united after the Cruz speech.
As Donald Trump Jr., said after Ted’s speech, those here at the convention were united: they were ALL booing Ted’s speech.
Then Newt finished Ted’s thought by turning Ted’s non-endorsement into an endorsement.
That was pure ad lib Newt.