September 25, 2009

The End of the Modern Two-Party System?

For those unfamiliar with it, is a site founded by Kentuckian Drew Curtis that is justifiably famous for the category tags and often bitingly witty headlines its contributors assign news stories on topics ranging from "Not News" to "Sports" to "Business" to "Politics." (My own favorite tag, called simply "Florida," marks the consistently weird, head-shake-inducing news that often tumbles out of the Sunshine State.) FARK has a dedicated community of users who are not shy about expressing their opinions or mercilessly mocking the positions of others when they are poorly supported by facts or logic. While there is a fair amount rhetorical poo-flinging in the comment threads, veins of insightful thought are also often there to be gleaned.

Such was the case yesterday, in a thread headlined with "Conservative House Democrats say Nancy Pelosi isn't offering them protection against votes that could lose them their seats, which could lead to an electoral bloodbath in 2010." In the comments, a FARKer with the handle Magorn makes what I think are some excellent points about the shifting landscape of American political parties.

Magorn postulates that, if, as polls suggest, the Republican Party as we know it is devolving from a national power to merely a regional one, the so-called Blue Dog coalition of conservative Democrats may well represent the successor to the modern GOP, and be the future home for moderate Republicans. He puts it this way:
In the House of Representatives these days, we really have a three party system, not two. Blue Dogs really don't act, or vote much like "traditional" Democrats, and when you look closely, you realize that many of them come from districts once held by a now extinct species of politician called the "moderate Republican"...

They are the primary reason that, even though the Dems have a much bigger majority than the Republicans did last time around, the Dems haven't been nearly as effective as Republicans in getting things passed...

I wonder how long it will be before the Blue Dogs go full schism and form their own party, and whether, when that move comes, it will send the Republican party to wherever it is that discarded political parties like the Whigs or the Nativists or the Grangers end up...
While it is probably premature to sound the death knell for the GOP - the Democratic Party recovered from Newt Gingrich's Republican Revolution in 1994 to recapture Congress after all - this viewpoint deserves consideration. For unlike the Democrats fifteen years ago, the Republicans haven't merely exhibited a predilection for self-entitlement and corruption, but led the country into two wars and trashed the economy in a way unseen in nearly a century.

History reveals that the majority party tends to lose seats in the midterm elections, and that may still happen in 2010. Such a respite for the GOP, however, might well be only temporary. Their wounds are deeper than those of the Democrats were when they were thrown out, and when an organization counts Sarah Palin, Michael Steele, and Glenn Beck among its leading lights, the idea that the political end of days for the GOP might be a span measured in a few short years, rather than decades, becomes harder to ignore.

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