Thursday, November 13, 2008

Advice for Republicans: Split Up!

The recent political developments and the recent election have shown how deeply split the Republican Party is on a whole range of issues. In my view, the Republican Party could very well be split up into five or six different parties. The Republican Party’s internal dynamics has, for a long time, been based on the philosophy that “my enemy’s enemy is my friend”. This has brought together a group of people whose inherent philosophical differences are many, and whose different convictions are sometimes even contradictory in nature.

The merging of the motley crew that consisted of white Southern racists opposed to civil rights, stock brokers on Wall Street opposed to regulation, fundamentalist Christians opposed to science and Catholics opposed to women’s rights, somehow created a powerful formula that would, for the most part, control national politics for four decades. They were all against something that would benefit society as a whole, and united in order to destroy it. The very notion of a “society” was to them a spurious one.

The beginning of the end of the motley crew alliance started with Bush. The complete failure to govern during the Bush years was not isolated to the financial markets, disaster relief, health care or education, it spanned across all the sectors that the government was previously supposed to manage. The Bush administration believed that the government should not govern, and hence did not.

Apart from the politicians in the administration who held these anarchistic views, the administration appointed, throughout the country, administrators who shared these views. Appointing anti-government administrators is like making an atheist the Pope. As a result, banks were told to regulate themselves, food importers were told to inspect themselves and vendors in government procurement deals were told to give the American tax payers a good price without competition. We all know that you can’t have a fox run a hen house, so the outcome was always rather predictable: a government in shambles and a country in deterioration. The fox ate the hens.

This intentional failure made Bush and his administration more unpopular than any administration in history, and put into serious question the oldest of conservative mantras: small government. The intellectual wing of the Republican Party is currently asking itself: why didn’t small government work? The answer they usually come up with is that what we had was not, in fact, small government, it was BIG government, and that’s why it didn’t work. Unsurprisingly, yet another erroneous analysis has come out of an anti-intellectual “intellectual” movement.

Then came John McCain. As a self-styled “maverick” and Republican Presidential candidate, history may judge McCain as the ultimate divider of the Republican Party. McCain was never part of the mainstream of the party, nor was he a part of the fringe on either side. Having a political maverick as a leader of a party is sure to divide a party simply because such a person will inevitably have limited appeal to everyone in it. In a best case scenario, a maverick could have broad appeal, but that broad appeal would probably still be limited in terms of intensity. The social conservatives didn’t like him because he wasn’t socially conservative. The Wall Street conservatives didn’t like him because he didn’t understand, and had no interest in, economics. The fundamentalist Christians didn’t like him because he was lukewarm about faith, and the list goes on.

Then came Sarah Palin. The amazon in the shape of a 1960s culture warrior emerged, preaching small-town values and anti-intellectualism with the eloquence of a 10-year-old. In the end, she appealed only to the least educated, most bigoted and backwards elements of the Republican Party. This obviously turned off tens of millions of voters around the country and greatly upset many elements of the Republican Party. The intellectual wing of the Republican Party was in uproar about Palin, and David Brooks famously described her as a “fatal cancer” to the party. He was probably partly right, but as we have seen, Palin was far from the only problem facing the Republicans. What did Palin actually stand for? I’m not sure, but she seemed to hold in high esteem, activities that included drinking beer and playing ice hockey. There’s nothing wrong with that, ask any Canadian, Swede, Finn or Czech, but most people don’t see these issues as critical to national politics.

Then came the economic crisis. It came down on America like a ton of bricks, and created further divisions between Republicans. A strong division started to show between the social conservatives in the South and the Wall Street conservatives in the North. The Wall Street conservatives argued for an enormous bailout of Wall Street that would save individual companies, individual investors, and enable Wall Street to continue to play a main role in the American economy as a whole. The philosophies of Wall Street conservatives are usually linked to a modern, diluted form of anarcho-capitalism, represented by people such as Alan Greenspan and Larry Kudlow. Although social conservatives and others have usually gone along with these philosophies as a part of the alliance of the motley crew, when the time came to vote for a bill that would endorse these philosophies to the tune of 700 billion dollars, it was too much. Social conservatives in the South who represent poor people with a low degree of education had never benefited from anarcho-capitalist philosophies. Those who actually benefited lived in Manhattan and not Alabama. The split became apparent when the first bailout bill was struck down by the House of Representatives, much as a result of social conservatives in the South.

Then came Obama’s victory. Obama was able to further split up the Republican Party, not by sowing seeds of division in their ranks, but by making people unite and flock around him. He spread an almost entirely positive message and introduced new solutions to problems, problems that the Republican Parties had considered non-issues that could hence be handled by the market. It turned out that voters did not want the market to provide them with health care or infrastructure. Obama’s message was, in essence, that the market could not do this. Obama offered solutions, the Republicans did not.

I’m saying that the Republican Party should split up. I’m saying that conservative ideology is not as much an ideology, as it is the absence of one. If your political goal is to leave most things in place, without having guided them there in the first place, which is in essence what conservatism means, then I would not call that much of an ideology. It is precisely because of that that I don’t think that the motley crew that is the Republican Party can stay together. The crew does not really have anything to rally around as a group, and will be unsuccessful if it tries because of the inherent contradictions and philosophical conflicts within the party. Only as a coalition of different parties can these political elements move forward. Inspiration can come from other conservative parties around the world, and I will now give a few suggestions on the formation of new parties:

- A Christian Conservative Party. There are several examples of these parties all over Europe. It seems to me that a party such as this would be very appealing to a lot of people in the South and mid-west. Social and religious issues are very important to these parties.

- A Moderate Conservative Party. This type of party usually advocates healthy budgets, entrepreneurship, lean government and low taxes. No importance is placed on socially conservative issues. Examples: The Tory Party in England, and Moderaterna in Sweden.

- A Libertarian Party. I know this already exists in America, but it could be re-vamped by the splitting of the Republican Party. There are hardly any examples of these parties anywhere else in the world.

- A Regional Southern/Rural Party. There are parts of the southern United States that have such different views based on regionalism as compared to the rest of the country, that the only way to accurately represent these views would be to create a regional interest party. There are many examples of these parties around the world, some more ”interesting” than others.

The future success of American conservatism hinges on splitting up.


Steve said...

The one thing that keeps these groups under the Republican umbrella is the knowledge that creating such a schism would result in a Democratic victory.

an average patriot said...

They will not split up. As a party they will fear monger themselves back to leadership to follow their fasscist agenda watch!
our problems are just beginning the right is already counting down until 2012. They want Eva Braun Palin to run for President in 2012.
If Bush and his followers could have their way we would have Islamic justice right here right now!
I am blown away listening to the hate and fear mongering about Obama coming from Coulter, Hannity, Limbaugh, and others and Obama isn’t even in yet. Put nothing beyond these monsters!

an average patriot said...

I agree Steve it just amazes me that they think we are so evil and a danger to the "prosperity" of the last 8 years!

Anonymous said...

Your proposal for parties is very amusing. I notice than none of your options include the notions of environmentalism or social justice. This is one of the ways in which we in the US are behind the EU. In most European nations, social justice ranks high, so that for instance in Germany the center right party is the "Christian Social Union". Many nations have Green parties, why not us? And as for me, I'd be a "Social Democrat", a la SPD.
Another Steve

Jacob said...

"The other Steve",

thank you for your comment. I am well aware of the existence of these parties. Social Democracy is the single biggest influence on politics word-wide in the post WWII world. Naturally, a country's political landscape is not complete without a social democratic party that promotes social justice. The political landscape of the United States is, as most people know, incomplete, unfair and not even close to being representative of people's tangible economic interests. The creation od a social democratic party represents a first stage in the political emancipation of a country.

The second stage begins when parties such as green parties emerge. At that point, a country has necessarily reached a stage where it no longer needs to struggle with basic needs of citizens, and can focus on "softer" values, unrelated to food on the table issues.

The United States cannot reach the first stage because there is no proportional representation. Also, the labor movement has been crushed on several occasions, its leaders jailed, and so on.

The only solution to the problem of there not being a social democratic party in this country is to allow proportional representation in Congressional elections. That means: if one party gets 10% of the votes, then that party gets 10% of the seats.

If you want to get into the reasons behind the absence of social justice in America, read Seymour Martin Lipset's book "It didn't happen here".