For most of the history of the two-party system in the United States, the Democratic Party has been regarded as the more unwieldy coalition. Since FDRâs time, the party had been shifting between Northern Jews and Catholics, poor Southern whites, African Americans, Latinos, environmentalists, labor unions, gay rights groups, academics, feminists, anti-war activists, liberals, and secularist groups. By contrast, the Republicans have had a much more homogenous coalition: business interests, defense interests, and white (often religious) voters ranging from the working class to the wealthy.
In spite of this, while most of this Democratic coalition is solidly behind President Obamaâs re-election effort this cycle, there are calls from some of the GOPâs influential voices to schism, especially if Mitt Romney fails to win the election. Up until recently, these calls were mounting in frustration from Romneyâs failure to move ahead in the polls. While Romney now enjoys a slight advantage and a good bit of momentum, this is still anybodyâs race, and should Romney lose, expect there for be renewed calls from commentators like Laura Ingraham (who called for the party to be âshut downâ after the election), Sean Hannity (who is registered in the New York Conservative Party) and Glenn Beck (who had promised, at the peak of his popularity, to âdestroy the two-party systemâ if necessary.)
If the Republican Party were to schism, I foresee five possible ways in which it could happen. Each, of course, would have its pros and cons.
-The Republican Party dissolves, leaving all former members independent.
This scenario would most directly benefit leaders Harry Reid and Nancy Pelosi, for at least in the interim, they would be guaranteed to have the largest coalition voting for them to lead the chamber. On the other hand, new conservative candidates would no longer be so easily tied to John Boehner and Mitch McConnell (who are not especially popular with the American electorate) nor would they be easily tied anymore to George W. Bush (who remains immensely unpopular). Furthermore, with the fiscal cliff looming, the deficit not reined in, and some of the most contentious aspects of Obamacare yet to be implemented, the Democratic Partyâs popularity may yet further plunge, leading to an âanything-but-Democratâ movement, without the baggage that the GOP brings today.
-The Republican Party disbands, and formerly GOP lawmakers join the Democratic caucus, leading to a transitional one-party state.
This scenario, while unthinkable to some, would be especially damaging to the American left, as being a Democrat would no longer pre-indicate a belief system or any set of policy preferences. While Boehner and McConnell would no longer be leaders in their party, it is likely that neither would Reid or Pelosi. The Party leadership race would be a war on multiple fronts, where people across the spectrum would have their own visible factions vying for the leadership- and under this scenario, it is conceivable that either a Blue Dog Democrat or a moderate former Republican could be elected to lead the single party in the chamber. While this centrist leadership may resonate with a lot of voters, should there be a leadership outcome that would not be acceptable to the Democratic Partyâs left flank, the pressure would then be on them to schism and instead declare themselves communists, socialists, Working Families Party members, and so forth.
Continued inside thread....