Thoma on Foolish Consistency

Note to self: I really like this post by Mark Thoma.

This is not an area I feel especially well equipped to speculate about. But, I will, if only to be able to look back years from now and laugh at how wrong I was.

If the Republican party comes back, I believe it will look very different than it does today. A Cheney-Limbaugh led party seems incompatible with the rapidly changing demographics of the country. The change that would have to occur within the Republican party would be a transformation much larger than the usual swing of the pendulum. Indeed, I cannot imagine how the Republican party can reconcile all of its incompatible parts and weak power.

Alternatively, the Republican party could die and the Democratic party could split.

The difficult thing for me to see is how, going forward, just two parties can accommodate a number of hard-nosed factions: (1) libertarian free-market types who generally tend to be socially liberal; (2) the anti-homosexual, antiabortion religious right; (3) the neoconservative internationalists; and (4) the sea of moderation that is now the Democratic party--a party that, if it were to split, one part surely include a liberal wing not altogether different from the contemporary GOP's worst caricatures of liberalism, and the other part a lot like today's Clintonesque "new" Democratic party. Somewhat contrary to Thoma, I think big business, big money interests will be flexible--they will gravitate toward power.

While none of (1), (2) or (3) can stand alone of a viable power, they were able to make a go of it in an uncomfortable but highly disciplined alliance that is the modern GOP. The glue, I suspect was the serious money from big business. The money will walk first, because they are no longer viable as a coalition. Going forward, it is hard to see how these can stick together. But it's equally difficult to see how any of these three factions might build alliances within the existing Democratic party. Except, maybe, the libertarian types with the new Democrats.

If the neocons and religous right stick together as the remnant Republican party, and the libertarians gravitate toward the Democrats, there will be pressure within the overly powerful Democratic party to split along new/old Democrat lines. A three party system? If not, then maybe something close: a weak Republican party and a divided if powerful Democratic party.

It is very hard to see what will come out of all this, especially post Obama.


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