History's End

History will end only when Man does

Location: United States
Blogroll Me!
  • E-Mail me
  • Wednesday, October 19, 2005

    On an IM Conversation Gone Bad, Part 2

    In the first part of my analysis of a conversation between Dean Esmay and Bill Ardolino, I examined the issue of Satisficement. Now I turn my attention to voter coalitions. Here is the part of the conversation which deals with coalitions. I put it here, rather than relying on you having to go to Dean's site, to make it easier to follow my lines of thinking.

    [20:41] INDCBill: another example would be abortion. what is the proper way for pro-lifers to achieve ends in the face of such majority position against theirs? I think it's incremental
    [20:41] INDCBill: and whole hog is counterproductive
    [20:41] INDCBill: but good luck finding a prolifer that agrees with that
    [20:41] EsmayDean: The difference being the right these days usually HAS a coherent philosphy.
    [20:41] INDCBill: thats true
    [20:41] INDCBill: the left is f'ing scattered
    [20:43] EsmayDean: But you're right about the prolifers. The unyielding unbending ones seem not to realize they will never get their way.
    [20:43] INDCBill: they talk past their practically intended audience
    [20:44] EsmayDean: Some of them do good work, running shelters and medical programs and such.
    [20:44] EsmayDean: Honestly I think the worst thing that could happen to the pro-life movement is to have Roe v. Wade overturned.
    [20:44] INDCBill: hmmm
    [20:44] INDCBill: maybe
    [20:44] INDCBill: be a hell of a fight
    [20:44] INDCBill: in various localities
    [20:44] EsmayDean: Yeah but then they'd be face to face with the fact that the vast majority of people in America, men and women, are perfectly comfortable with restrictions on abortion but will not support an absolute ban.
    [20:45] INDCBill: yeah
    [20:45] EsmayDean: It's why, in my view, Roe must go. I'm pro-choice, but it's been distorting our politics for 30 years. There's no other country in the West where this is a big issue, and the reason is the democratic process finds compromises that most people can live with.
    [20:46] INDCBill: well you may soon get your wish
    [20:46] EsmayDean: I hope so.
    [20:46] INDCBill: within 2 years, I'd say
    [20:46] EsmayDean: Mind you, it'll mean the Republican coalition collapses within 5 years.
    [20:46] INDCBill: possibly
    [20:46] EsmayDean: Millions of pro-life voters will be able to vote Democrat again.
    [20:47] INDCBill: do you think its possible to have a third way?
    [20:47] EsmayDean: Third way on abortion? Or you mean in general?
    [20:47] INDCBill: poltically
    [20:47] INDCBill: a third part
    [20:47] INDCBill: "classical liberal"
    [20:48] EsmayDean: Oh. Yeah. Sure.
    [20:48] EsmayDean: In retrospect, Clinton was much better at this than I realized at the time.
    [20:48] EsmayDean: Bush would have been the same but the war's been a distraction.
    [20:48] INDCBill: triangulation, yeah
    [20:48] EsmayDean: There's another way of putting that.
    [20:48] EsmayDean: What is it I'm trying to remember... oh yeah:
    [20:48] INDCBill: compromise
    [20:49] EsmayDean: 1) Thesis, 2) antithesis, 3) synthesis.
    [20:49] EsmayDean: Bush's entire effort to bring private accounts to Social Security is pure Third Wave stuff. But he's got a Democratic bloc so against it and willing to fight so hard against it it won't happen.
    [20:49] EsmayDean: It's probably going to take a Democrat to get that done.
    [20:50] INDCBill: yeah
    [20:50] EsmayDean: Just like it's going to be a Democrat who finally does away with race-based affirmative action.
    [20:50] INDCBill: faster, please
    [20:50] EsmayDean: Too bad I feel scared sh*tless to let these people in charge of national security.
    [20:51] INDCBill: yep
    [20:51] EsmayDean: A Democratic Party headed by Howard Dean is one I can't possibly support.
    [20:51] INDCBill: too many howard deans in the fringes of the party

    Roe v. Wade played an important, perhaps even crucial, role in setting up the modern party coalitions that we know today. Before I go into that however, I have to critique Bill's use of the word "third way." This concept has appeared in politics, and I don't like it. Its inaccurate and way too simple. It implies that the political system as we know it is a 1D spectrum, going from left to right. And that it is somehow possible to "branch off." This isn't the case. The political "spectrum" is in reality a 2d field, with the shape of a diamond. The four points represent the four major political orientations, Populist, Libertarian, Conservative and Liberal. Populists are socially conservative, fiscally liberal. Libertarians are socially liberal (in a hands off kind of way), and fiscally conservative. Conservatives are both fiscally and socially conservative, while Liberals are both fiscally and socially liberal. I should note that there are some ideas floating around involving a cube shape for political beliefs, but they haven't caught on yet.

    For a long time the way the party system worked is this:

    Democrats: Liberals, Populists

    Republicans: Conservatives, Libertarians

    For a long while both parties were motivated more by financial and fiscal concerns than they were by social issues. This started to change during the 60's, and became most notable once Roe v. Wade occurred. Now social issues came to the front, and we started to see some party re-alignment. Populists started to vote for Republicans, especially for President. The bastion of the Populists was the south, where for a long time Conservative Democrats were the norm, and Republicans were rare. Libertarians were split. Some started to vote Democrat, but not many. They were still motivated primarily by fiscal issues. I

    Increasingly social issues started to dominant party politics. Now while this is true of both parties, it is more so for the Democrats than the Republicans, despite the fact that people tend to think of the GOP when it comes to "morality voters." This is partially because the new core of money and support within the Democratic Party comes from social issue activists, with pro-choice advocates being one example. As labor has weakened over the decades, the social activists and advocates, whether the issue be race, abortion, LGBT issues, etc. have replaced them as the heart and soul of the party. Labor is still a factor, but not like it once was. In a way the social activists are now the gatekeepers of the party. You can't get the nomination if you don't placate them. Can anyone see the Democratic Party nominating a Pro-Life candidate? I can't, even if they fit the identification as a liberal in every other way. This leads to the question then, can anyone see the GOP nominating a pro-choice candidate? I see that too as unlikely. But not as much. Within the GOP the main source of funds for the primaries and pre-convention work are still corporations, business' (large and small), business people. The religious right has numbers more than it has money. I see it as difficult, but not impossible, for the GOP to nominate a candidate who doesn't fit the "pro-life" bill.

    This does lead to what Dean mentioned:
    Millions of pro-life voters will be able to vote Democrat again.
    Will this truly be the case? There are social issues now other than abortion which attract populists to the GOP. Same Sex Marriage being one of the more prominent such issues. That one will likely not be settled anytime soon, even if Roe somehow is. What would the Democrats have to offer that the Populists would find attractive? Security Issues? Populists tend to be the most patriotic part of the diamond, if I remember history right. They certainly wouldn't want to associate with the Kosites. I happen to think that the Populists, if Roe were overturned, really would have no choice but to stick with the GOP at the national level. We might see some return in the number of conservative Democrats in the House and Senate, and in state government, but I doubt it would be significant.

    Third-wayism just means a trend away from Liberalism v. Conservatism towards either Populism or Libertarianism. Such a trend means that either one party or the other is starting to lean towards one of those two positions. This has happened before, and likely will happen again. The GOP was originally more libertarian than conservative, just as the Democrats used to be more populist than liberal. What we might see from an overturning of Roe is a party re-alignment, but if it happens sooner rather than later I think that some specific circumstances, namely the prominence of security issues, would reduce its impact.

    Listed on BlogShares Weblog Commenting and Trackback by HaloScan.com