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WILL THE TWO-PARTY SYSTEM SURVIVE?

July 10, 2016

WILL THE TWO-PARTY SYSTEM SURVIVE?

The Republican Party will never be the same irrespective of who wins or loses the White House this fall. In about the only good thing he has done, Donald Trump has unmasked the party’s racist views and sale to the highest bidders (Kochs et al.) along with its suppression of minority voting rights, all in exchange for tax breaks to its highest bidders, warding off immigration reform, repressing labor rights etc. It is a blatant quid pro quo arrangement so arrogant that it is being played out in plain view of voters, who are apparently too busy working their electronic gadgets and following the Kardashians to take notice.

The inner workings of that party, which have been revealed with the “shock jock lite” of Trump on the stump and who (ironically) now asks that party to support his candidacy for president, are a sight to behold, and the fact that a party that has been denuded and denounced by its own candidate for president tells us that the party is not a party anymore, that its members have no common governing philosophy, and that, riven with internal discord, it is not a party at all but rather a mere aggregation of people who hand out goodies for money under the guise of law as they risk little censure from their gerrymandered districts (where their return to office is virtually assured).

The party has no power; it is bullied by the likes of a Trump and, of course, its zillionaire campaign contributors whose lawyers write the legislation their Republican lackeys are required to introduce on pain of withdrawal of campaign funding or, worse, an opponent in the next primary more likely to follow the whim and instructions of its zillionaire corporate masters, whose message to its congressional stooges in more potent than ever with the effects of Citizens United (unlimited funding) beginning to take hold in earnest. (See Jane Mayer’s new book, Dark Money, five years in the making, and which describes in detail just who and what is happening both before and after the Citizens United holding.)

It is entirely possible that, as I often blog, the Republican Party may be going the way of the Whigs, from which it arose in 1854 when the Whig Party disintegrated on the issue of slavery (and whether new territories coming into the Union could be slave or free). The Civil War settled that issue, but it won’t take a war to determine the fate of the present-day Republican Party.

It will take Republicans who believe in democracy and eschew the purchase of their party by special interests and who are strong and united enough to withstand bullying by such as the Trumps and Kochs. In other words, it will take people who really do place principle ahead of profit.

If responsible Republicans can gather enough strength and will to succeed in making such a stand, and if their new and revitalized party changes its many wrong-headed stances on immigration, taxation, race and other demographics which otherwise point to its disintegration if not reversed in any event, then it can be a force in American politics once again. In the hope that such can happen, the party should have a grand conclave after the fall election (win or lose) and rework its platform to accord with the many new realities posed by rapidly evolving demographics and an economy both in transition and in need of new thinking to compete internationally.

Governing these days is a complicated process and will become yet more complicated as time goes on. All of us in both parties should end the “gotcha games” and giveaways and instead visualize government as it was seen by Jefferson and Madison – a noble enterprise. Government is not a marketplace; rather the marketplace is a part of government. Today the tail is wagging the dog.

Why should I, a lifelong Democrat, be interested in saving the Republican Party from possible failure as a political party such as that suffered historically by the Whigs, the Free Soil Party, the Dixiecrats and others? It’s because I was an American long before I was a Democrat, and because I believe in the so-called “two-party system.”

My belief in such a system doesn’t come from any sense of fairness; it comes instead from a knowledge of history and a sense of the pragmatic. Mencken and others have written convincingly that where there is one-party rule there is inevitable corruption, whatever the party and whether we see it through the corrupt administrations of the Prendergasts, Huey Long, Tammany Hall or in other instances where one-party rule has led to corruption on a world-class scale. Corruption is never in the public interest.

I am viscerally opposed to bribery, cover-up and crime generally, especially by those who have been entrusted with the public to conduct their affairs honestly and fairly, and I think we need a two-party system so that one of such parties can point up the excesses of the other who may be in power in a specific period. Humans steal and lie both in and out of office, and I think we need all the countervailing force we can find to blunt such proclivities in practice.

So yes, I do want the Republican Party (or its successor) to redo its priorities and play watchdog on behalf of all of us. In words of the street, we don’t have time for all of this silly stuff. We have important things to do that only government can do in this rapidly changing world, and we need political as well as legal surveillance to keep us on the straight and narrow.

With vigorous leadership not beholden to money, the Republican Party can survive, and I hope it does.   GERALD      E

 

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