It’s election day morning…six or eight more hours of political commercials and then it’s all over bar the shouting. Of course, given the current crop of Tea Party candidates, a fair number of whom will probably win, the shouting may go on for a very long time. The problem is, there’s a lot of important stuff that needs to be done and just shouting won’t get any of it finished, or even started. If the “GOP” wins- I quoted it because now there’s the regular Republican Party and of course those “other guys”, the Tea Party Wing- this won’t just be a ‘tempest in a tea cup’, it’ll be a full blown nightmare. I’ve argued here before, years ago, that the reason America woks (“Woks?” Er…works. Not to say woking isn’t hard work, what with the flames and all.) is the two party system and the reason Italy, Israel and places like that don’t is that multi-party governments must form coalitions that fracture and fail, bringing down elected governments. Well, we’re about to see if that prediction is correct.
I have two favorite quotes- the first is Will Rodgers: “I don’t belong to any organized political party…I’m a Democrat” and the second is “Happiness is the maximum agreement between reality and desire.” That one is, oddly enough, from Josef Stalin, proving that even sadistic mass murdering tyrants can be pithy too. Both are going to come into play in Washington for the next two years, big time.
Now, in addition to the normally fractured Democrats, we essentially have two ‘Republican’ Party’s as well. The problem with that is that, unlike Democrats, who are comfortable with the confusion of competing ideals, strategies and theories, the GOP has always been far more unified than it is today and prefers it that way. If fact, despite the rift between the ‘Grand Old’ part of the GOP and the Tea Party, they still seem bent on being unified. If it continues this way, there are only two outcomes…well three, actually.
First, the GOP swings far enough to the right and becomes the Tea Party. This would most likely push even more moderate Republicans out into the political no mans land of being Independent, which could mean anybody. That’s their problem…Independent’s have by definition no cohesive political platform and thus, aside from being spoilers, no political power.
Second, the GOP co-opts the Tea Party wing, something they’re already planning on doing. They certainly, no matter how much they may publicly celebrate a Tea Partier winning a race, have any intention of doing what they want. The GOP are rich white guys who belong to corporate boards and country clubs and live in gated communities; the Tea Party, with some exceptions of course, are more blue collar Libertarian types, a group in some ways even more fractured the Democrats.
While the Dem.’s are intentionally diverse, the Tea Party is just an umbrella, name for people to use, like ‘Latino Voter’…like Latino’s, there is no ‘Tea Party’ bloc. The main thing they seem to agree on is no taxes, but none of them are suggesting they want any less services like garbage pick-up, firemen and cops, Social Security or any of the federal entitlement money they qualify for, be it farm subsidies or new bridges. Look at Sarah Palin’s Alaska- the Queen of the Tea Party’s state takes in a nearly 100% return on every tax dollar they send to Washington and charges the oil industry through the nose to work there. Let’s see how far she’d get trying to convince Alaskan’s to give that up. It also has some of the highest property and business taxes, as well as sin taxes, in America and let’s see the Tea People in the other forty nine states vote for that.
There’s still actually one third option…a little far-fetched, I admit. The GOP, having realized that the radical wing of their party has less in common with them than the establishment Democrats- the guys who’ve spent years in politics and know how to make the system work- decide to make common cause with Dem.’s to maintain the status quo. The Tea Party, having been pushed out, becomes a separate entity, a real political party.
If that last one happens, we’ll have not a two, but a four party system, one that requires coalitions to form any voting majority. And so- Welcome to Italy folks.