We in the United States have become accustomed to the presence of two major political parties which dominate the electoral and governance processes. The Democratic Party and the Republican Party have a pretty good hold on the process, although there are a myriad of small, single-interest parties who exert their presence in most national elections and in some local elections. From time to time a strong third party erupts and there is a new dynamic for a season, but it has been hard for third party organizations to be successful in electing candidates. For the most part, third party candidates have functioned as “spoilers,” drawing votes from one or the other of the two major parties and thus disrupting the balance.
However, there is more and more dissatisfaction in America with the two parties as they are currently organized. The Republican Party, for all intents and purposes, is struggling unsuccessfully with the strong voice or the so-called Tea Party elements and other right wing bodies who seem to have captured the strength of the Party. Traditional Republicans are dissatisfied with the drift of the Party to the right and are either silenced or are abandoning the Party.
And on the Democratic side of the chambers, there are some in the Democratic Party who believe the leadership is bowing to the conservatives too much and the Party should reflect a more liberal, progressive bent.
There are calls for a third party which is made up of moderates from both the Republican and Democratic families. In Rhode Island, for instance, there is a Moderate Party which is aimed in that direction, but which isn’t “sexy” enough to capture the interest of serious political voters.
What is signalled, I believe, is a redefinition of the two Major Parties. That’s not to say there isn’t room for a third party on the ballot. (It just isn’t practical to expect it to be able to compete with numbers and the money in the two big parties.) But if both the Republican and Democratic Parties were to step back and take a serious look at themselves and ask what it is that they have to offer to the American people, a restructuring would be a natural outcome. Like a baseball team that is having a “rebuilding year” it might mean a dip in success for one political “season,” but the long-term picture might be beneficial.
My Republican friends aren’t happy with what they see coming in the Republican Party, and my Democratic friends are disenchanted with the diminishing of social justice issues which have characterized the Democratic Party for many years. In the end, what we have before us are two parties in conflict, not only with each other, but with themselves. Is that what creates good elections and good government? I don’t think so.
Illustration Credit: photo_EC ON