Balkinization  

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Four parties in 2012?

Sandy Levinson

A response to my previous post immediately below suggested the possibility of a Bloomberg-Bayh "independent party" ticket in 2012. This certainly doesn't sound like a crazy idea to me, given the presumed ambition of both men and the deep pockets of Michael Bloomberg. (Will he be taking out a lot of endorsement ads in 2010 to build up gratitude for 2012?) I also don't find it at all crazy to think that there could be a total of four serious parties and candidates in 2012: Obama, some Republican to be named later (my longshot bet remains the celebrity general David Petraeus, especially if Iraq and Afghanistan can be portrayed as other than debacles, which will redound more to his benefit than to Obama's); Bloomberg-Bayh; and Sarah Palin (Tea Party.) It takes little imagination to see a deadlocked electoral college, which would the ultimate choice to the House, on its one-state/one-vote basis. This possibility will, of course, make the 2011 reapportionment follies more important than ever (and, presumably, heighten the sense of public rage that is fueling so much of American politics these days.

Of course, perhaps, as Col. Charles Dunlap suggested some years ago (but did not advocate), there might be a military coup in 2012. (Would that really be worse than a Sarah Palin presidency? Unfortunately, this is a serious question. Might there rise a Caesar tempted to cross the Rubicon if the alternative is someone so patently unsuitable and, indeed, absolutely frightening, by any serious criteria, to be President of the United States and Commander-in-Chief of the military?)

If one weren't actually an American (or even just a resident in the US or even simply affected by (non)decisions that are being made by the US, one could simply sit back and enjoy the show of a collapsing political system trapped in the iron cage of a radically defective constitution. That, alas, is not an alternative available to almost anyone (since even penguins in Antarctica are affected by our non-functioning Congress). We'll know some years from know what the proper analogies might be (e.g., America in 1774-76, Weimar, Paris in 1958, etc.)

Comments:

hmm, I am having trouble squaring this post with your view that the minimal qualifications imposed by the Constitution (age, residency and natural birth) are outrageous infringements on the right of the people to choose whomever they like. But if the people choose someone you really don't like, all of a sudden a military coup becomes preferable?

Just goes to show you that there are worse things than unthinking veneration of the Constitution.
 

Sandy,

The best analogy is 1982. Unemployment was over 10%. Reagan was unpopular. The Republicans did poorly in the midterm elections. And there was a lot of talk about our broken Constitution (there was the Lloyd Cutler report about going to a collective executive or parliamentary system, though that might have been in 1979 -- I don't recall).

In 1984, the economy was better. Reagan won a huge reelection. No military coup. No third party or fourth party. You have not convinced me that the current situation is any different.
 

Sandy:

Are you truly suggesting a military coup to overthrow an Palin Administration?
 

Sandy, it may be that you underestimate the extent to which the American political system has been rigged against participation by third parties. Furthermore, the Tea "Party" movement does not seem to have aspirations to become a third party, but instead aims to take over the Republican party from within.

OTOH, there are signs of Democratic political activists creating false flag "Tea Parties" to run candidates to divide the conservative vote. Such efforts would benefit from elections officials waiving ballot access rules, much as Perot did in his first bid for the Presidency. This might be successful on a local level, but I doubt Palin, for all her supposed idiocy, would agree to be their foil.

And I echo mis' sentiment: You really think a military coup is preferable to election of a President you don't like?
 

Maybe Sandy has is mind in response to this question yodeled from the hills of Colorado:

"Are you truly suggesting a military coup to overthrow an Palin Administration?"

a "coup d'bart" triggered by the publication of our yodeler's work of friction [sick!] on Pres. Obama with tea bags at the ready.
 

I knew that Sandy's support for a coup against President Palin would somehow be Bart's fault.
 

Some of the prior commenters apparently cannot read, or they would not ask whether Sandy suggests a military coup to overthrow a Palin administration. It could not have been more clear that all he did was to ask whether, if there were a military coup, it would be worse than a Palin presidency. Even if he thought that the answer were no, it would not be worse (which he did not say), that would not imply that he favored a military coup. One might believe, after all, that a military coup, even if better than a Palin presidency, might set a bad precedent.
 

I can read. He didn't suggest a coup, he suggested Palin would be so awful a coup might not be worse. Which betrays either a total lack of perspective concerning Palin's deficiencies relative to some who've held high office, or a rather casual attitude towards the end of democracy in this country.

"This possibility will, of course, make the 2011 reapportionment follies more important than ever "

Ah, gerrymandering. A good subject for an amendment, I would say. Multiple seat PR seems a more reliable solution than any attempt to directly regulat the design of districts.
 

a rather casual attitude towards the end of democracy in this country

Yes, we are still permitted to democratically elect our dictator. A president who has the power to indefinitely imprison anyone he wishes without due process is a dictator. Bush seized that power, Obama retains it, and Congress and the courts acquiesce.
 

we are still permitted to democratically elect our dictator

I should have qualified that. We are still permitted to democratically elect our dictator except when the Supreme Court doesn't want us to or the electoral vote makes the loser the winner (speaking of a dysfunctional Constitution).
 

Silliness aside, I don't think this would result in a deadlocked electoral college (could swing states in weird ways, but the two parties will come out on top), and more importantly, the iron law of institutions would compel the traditional parties to protect themselves in the House (to the point that I could see the state delegations voting cross-party, dem for repub, repub for dem, to block the interlopers, and probably a comprise dem/repub or repub/dem Pres and VP to prevent a fracturing of their duopoly.

Palin would not win as an outsider, but if she was the republican standard bearer, maybe. But in no situation will a third party make it to the Presidency. The two parties will find a way to make the office unconstitutional before that. Ironically, for all the bi-partisanship the Broders and the Bayhs of the world want to see, there is nothing that will get the parties to cooperate more than a threat to the status quo.
 

Brett:

OTOH, there are signs of Democratic political activists creating false flag "Tea Parties" to run candidates to divide the conservative vote.

Are we talking portents, omens, or actual evidence here? Jes' curious....

Cheers,
 

On the prospects for a serious challenge to the two big parties, I will just echo what Gerard said above. These rumblings are heard in the run up to many Presidential elections. Does anybody remember Unity08? No? I thought not.

On Sarah Palin, if her handlers couldn't control her they would find a way to get her removed from office -- by impeachment if necessary. The problem is the policies of those handlers, not the character or competence of Palin herself. If I understand correctly, near the end of his term Reagan was signficantly handicapped by Altzheimer's. The government survived.
 

Nerp is right, if there's one thing the two major parties are agreed on, it's that nobody else is allowed to win. They'll permit an occasional lower office to be won by a third party, but the Presidency? Unthinkable. Were it to happen, people would take third parties seriously the next election, and the duopoly would be over.

Shaq, I'm talking about this. The effort seems purely aimed at making sure Reid gets reelected, and involves nobody the tea party movement recognizes as their own.
 

The Tea Party movement may be a reincarnation of the Know Nothing Party of the 1850s, especially if Tom's credo continues to influence. As for the current Republican Party, it could be described as the:

"NO! NOTHING!" PARTY

with Sarah serving tea, truthfully knowing nothing.
 

"Tom's credo" would have to influence, in order to "continue" to influence. I'm not really very impressed by these media forays to find the most disreputable face they can find to paste on the tea party movement, even if it takes cropping photos to remove the black people from supposedly racist gatherings. I saw this same thing in action at pro-gun demonstrations back in the '90s, where the press would pass hundreds of clean-cut family types to cluster around the one weirdo they could find at the protest. It slowed things down, but we still won in the end, got concealed carry in almost every state.

Fortunately, with the internet that sort of thing isn't quite as effective as it used to be. And it's getting less effective with each passing day. Instead of giving up on the tactic, though, the media seems to just up the dose to compensate for the waning effectiveness.

About the only thing it's accomplishing these days, though, is to give folks who already want to despise the opposition fodder to maintain their opinions.
 

I wonder what else Brett is concealing?

"It slowed things down, but we still won in the end, got concealed carry in almost every state."

Brett must feel proud as punch to be packin' punch. Now what was it Mae West said about ...?

By the way, is Brett suggesting that Tom with (or without) his credo is a most disreputable face on the Tea Party movement?
 

"Tom's credo" would have to influence, in order to "continue" to influence. I'm not really very impressed by these media forays to find the most disreputable face they can find to paste on the tea party movement, even if it takes cropping photos to remove the black people from supposedly racist gatherings.

# posted by Brett : 6:44 AM


The only people who "pasted" Tancredo onto the tea party movement were the tea-baggers. He was a featured speaker at the tea-bagger convention. The tea-baggers cheered evert racist word that spewed out of him.

Fortunately, with the internet it's going to be really tough for you clowns to run away from that.
 

What I'm suggesting is that subtle distinction between inviting somebody to speak to you, and chosing them to speak for you. Maybe liberals only listen to people they 100% agree with, (That would explain some things.) but conservatives are a little broader minded.
 

Brett's "subtle distinction" is more like find a pony in a pile of you know what. What comes to mind is a phrase I coined during the 1968 Presidential campaign:

"Subtle as an elephant's derriere."

Is being subtle a form of concealing?
 

What I'm suggesting is that subtle distinction between inviting somebody to speak to you, and chosing them to speak for you.

# posted by Brett : 8:40 PM


Tancredo's racist remarks were greeted with loud applause. He was clearly speaking FOR the tea-baggers.
 

Got a transcript, Bartbuster? Frankly, given some of what liberals tend to deny is racist, and claim is racist, I'm hardly inclined to take your word for his remarks actually having that character. Coming from the left, "racist" is just a content free epithet, roughly equivalent to "poopy head".
 

Brett, he thinks we should bring back "literacy" tests for voters. In fact, he claimed that the only reason Obama was elected is because we don't have literacy tests for voters.
 

No, he doesn't think we should bring back 'literacy' tests. He thinks we should have literacy tests. The difference is vast: The 'literacy' tests you're harking back to were nothing of the sort, if you were a white illiterate you passed, if you were black you failed no matter how well you could read. The literacy tests he thinks we should have would, you know, test literacy. You might not think the franchise should be limited to people who can read, but last time I checked, quite a few black people could do just that.

He does have something of a point: Polls of Obama voters demonstrated that, where they preferred Republican policies to Democratic, Obama voters simply falsely attributed those policies to the wrong party. Maybe being able to read would have reduced that a little.
 

I know exactly what he meant.

I guess you can believe whatever it takes for you to think you're not really in bed with a bunch of racists...
 

He does have something of a point: Polls of Obama voters demonstrated that, where they preferred Republican policies to Democratic, Obama voters simply falsely attributed those policies to the wrong party. Maybe being able to read would have reduced that a little.

# posted by Brett : 4:55 PM


Polls also showed that Rethuglicans overwhelmingly thought that Iraq was involved in 9/11. Maybe being able to read would have reduced that a little.
 

"I guess you can believe whatever it takes for you to think you're not really in bed with a bunch of racists..."

As a member of a party that favors policies which explicitly discriminate on the basis of race, I don't think you're in any position to be throwing that accusation around.

"Polls also showed that Rethuglicans overwhelmingly thought that Iraq was involved in 9/11. Maybe being able to read would have reduced that a little."

Quite possibly, so literacy tests not only aren't racist, they aren't partisan, either...
 

As a member of a party that favors policies which explicitly discriminate on the basis of race, I don't think you're in any position to be throwing that accusation around.


Seeing as you are a member of the party of the KKK, I'm feeling pretty good about the position I'm in.

But I'm feeling better about this literacy test idea. I'll take 2 questions:

Where was president Obama born?
Was Iraq involved in 9/11?

You can have as many questions as you want. The Dems will still win every election in a landslide.
 

1. As far as I can tell, Hawaii.

2. Not much involvement, to be sure, and hardly critical. The only connection is similar to the connection between my alarm clock and my toaster: One wakes me up, and the other gets used because I woke up.

Anyway, there will not be four significant parties in 2012, because the two major parties have too effectively crafted legal barriers to third party participation. This is why the tea party movement is concentrating on trying to take over the GOP from within. It's just too obvious that third party runs are a waste of time.
 

Sorry Brett, you don't get to vote. The correct answer to question 2 is "no".
 

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