Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Speculation Time

Here's some interesting news to mull over...

Suppose that Bllomberg does run, now that he's officially an independent. In our first-past-the-post plurality system, who does this hurt the most?

Suppose for a minute that there was a truly conservative minor party, at least minor as compared to the GOP. Would they have a chance to walk away with it, if you assume that Bloomberg would appeal to "conservative" Democrats and "moderate" (read: liberal) Republicans?

Assuming that to be successful, a third party must displace an existing, established major party, I don't see Bloomberg pulling it off. But he could change the dynamic if he runs, no question about that.


Daniel Webster said...

Are you asking:

"Can a truly conservative third party displace an existing major party," as opposed to, or in exclusion of:

"can a truly liberal third party displace an existing major party?"

I think the possibilities have yet to be exhausted if that is indeed what you're asking. And I think it probably is what you're asking in essence.

I'll leave it at that for now in hopes that this discussion might yet get underway.

Call Me Mom said...

I think there is a possibility that a third party may have a fighting chance as the presidential race moves forward.

Maybe that's just wishful thinking.

Samuel Adams said...

I heard a glittering jewel call in to one of those anti-American talk radio shows a couple of days ago and ask: "What are the chances of the current two-party system being done away with and replaced by a four-party system made up of [sic] hard-right, center-right, center-left, and hard-left?"

Michael Tams said...

I think a lot of this depends on your view of the relative conservatism of most Americans.

I think it is more likely that a truly conservative party would displace the GOP, with a majority of their followers going to the new conservative party, and a smaller number going over to the Demos. But why?

I think a majority of Americans are more conservative than they think, and maybe they just don't know it. I also think that Zell Miller Democrats are a dying breed; that party is more firmly left in its ideology. Maybe the Zell folks are all in the GOP now; certainly they are a minority in their own party...

So why don't they go? Good question. Maybe they're union families - cops or teachers - who are "ordinary" Americans who don't think they fit in with the GOP. Maybe there's something else to it.

But just the creation of a truly conservative party won't be enough to displace the GOP. There has to be an animating external issue that they drop the ball on for some... ideological reason. For if they just simply drop the ball, survival will necessitate they adopt the platform of the up-and-comer. Human nature being what it is (do you send in those registration cards every time you buy a chair or a phone or a blender? Me neither), people will be inclined to tolerate evils while they are tolerable.

But an ideological divide, now that's something that a party (a group of people, really) will ride all the way to the bitter end.

Take the Libertarian Party (please). They honest-to-God think that if they could just continually legislate limited government, everything would be fine eventually. Never mind the fact that the people must be self-governing if you're going to start reducing external government, that's just a minor detail to their big brains.

Could a three party system work? Could a four-party system work? Depends, I suppose, on what your definition of "work" is. I think the essence of a first-past-the-post system is so intuitive and ingrained in our subconscious that we'll always be a two party, winner-take-all system.

The winners, of course, may change.