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Edric O

Why the Republican strategy is actually smart

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The current Republican Party leadership in the United States is increasingly criticized - often from within the Republican ranks - for sticking to an inflexible, dogmatic free market ideology that is not providing any solutions to the economic crisis and hurting the party at the polls. Critics claim that if the Republicans want to win back the White House, they'll have to change their ways.

But here's a dirty little secret: Republicans don't need to lift a finger to win back the White House. Neither do the Democrats when they're out of power. America has the most entrenched two-party system in the Western world. Voters can't keep electing the same party forever - sooner or later that party will screw up, and then the opposition party will get back into power by virtue of the fact that it's the only alternative to the status quo. All the Republicans have to do is wait. If they are too extreme, their turn in power will come later than otherwise, but it will still come. It may take 8, 12, or even 16 years, but Republicans will get back the White House, no matter how extreme their views or how idiotic their policies might be.

This means that if you happen to care deeply about those extreme policies and want to see them enacted, your best strategy is to get the Republican Party to stick to them and resist any calls to moderate the party platform. A moderate platform might win elections sooner, but even an extreme platform will win elections eventually. So, far from making a mistake, extreme conservatives know exactly what they're doing. And radical Democrats should be doing the same thing, rather than supporting Obama's current approach.

There is a more general lesson to learn here, a lesson especially important for the left: If you are the largest opposition party in a country, you are guaranteed to get a turn in power eventually, as long as no other opposition party becomes larger than you. Far too often, mainstream left-wing parties have compromised and moderated their stance in order to get back into power, while right-wing parties decided to stick to their principles come what may. The result? A rightward shift in the politics of all countries where this happened.

Of course, if you care about the perks of power, then you'll want to compromise so as to get those perks as often as possible. But if you're serious about social and economic change, remember that compromise is unnecessary. You will win eventually anyway, and when that happens, you can put your radical plans into action and change the playing field completely. It's what the radical right did. It's about damn time we did it too.

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The radical has spoken. Not a first time, but I really disagree. I want to know one thing Edric: once you are in power, what would lead you to consider someone else's opinions if those are "compromises" stated here?

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Duh. Bush was in power 8 years. Republicans got done what they wanted, and they knew republicans were unpopular so they really didn't care about winning and it was very good for republicans that Obama got voted in. Obama will become unpopular because of the recession and Iraq war, and the Republicans will be voted back in 8 years. Obama will get two terms.

They both have lots of power and wealth and won't do anything to sabotage the other party. There really isn't much democracy in USA. Vote for party A or party B. It's been that way forever.

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The radical has spoken. Not a first time, but I really disagree. I want to know one thing Edric: once you are in power, what would lead you to consider someone else's opinions if those are "compromises" stated here?

It depends on what kinds of opinions you're talking about. I have a very small number of principles - four, to be exact - which I will not compromise, modify or moderate under any circumstances:

1. The goal of government policy should be to achieve the maximum possible level of social and economic equality that does not violate the other three principles.

2. Private property in general is illegitimate, and private property over the means of production is outright evil. The means of production should be made collective property immediately and a planned economy should be established.

3. Collective provision of services (but not physical goods) is superior to individual provision. Whenever possible, services such as health care, education, transportation and so on should be provided collectively (i.e. provided free of charge on demand).

4. The people are sovereign. Democracy should be used as the method of decision-making in as many areas and as often as possible. Direct democracy is preferable to representative democracy.

Everything else is negotiable. These are broad principles, and leave a lot of room for variation. I like to think this actually makes me more open to compromise, in general, than the average politician. I am a radical only because we live under capitalism. If we lived under socialism (or communism), I'd be a pragmatic moderate on most issues.

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The parties struggle for a median voter, and thus their policies are getting similar. The effect is high probability of change of the governing party, even if the probability of changing policy is much lower (state politics is a rather reactionary business). But there are other relevant factors. Parties are composed of people. It is nice to say the GOP needs just "8,12,16 years to win back White House", but for politicians personally it is a big loss - a 50-year guy won't have as much lust to go for elections after ten years in opposition. The party itself isn't doing compromises, the politicians are forced to do so, if they won't do so, the party will (without compromises) drive them out. The most have only one chance and have to proceed cautiously. It has no use for the old guard to clap hands for the young generation. You won't win the elections next time and your extremism will be forgotten, because the party won't nominate you (loser!) for the second time.

Radical right got to power thanks to the illusion of an external threat - like it does so everywhere. Radical left has now the chance thanks to the internal instability. But I think a leftist would do the best if he stayed out of party politics and went his own way.

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The current Republican Party leadership in the United States is increasingly criticized - often from within the Republican ranks - for sticking to an inflexible, dogmatic free market ideology that is not providing any solutions to the economic crisis and hurting the party at the polls. Critics claim that if the Republicans want to win back the White House, they'll have to change their ways.

But republican leaders are making flip-flop every day (Ron Paul is the exception).Sticking on common values would be a good idea,but simply each republican leader has total different ideas (because two party system sucks)...I don't see nothing in common between Giuliani and Paul or Huckabee while democratic leaders seems more similar between themselves.

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I very rarely agree with Edric on this board, but I do here.  The current US Republican Party seems to represent quite a broad spectrum of right wing views, and as pointed out by vota, a lot of the Republican Presidential Candidates had quite different views.  In most other democratic countries, there would be some kind of party split, whereby one of these leaders forms his own party, but in the US, all these candidates will still compete to be the Presidential Candidate for just one party.  I guess they all know, that should they split up, that would also split up the right wing voters, and prevent either one of them getting into power.

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Here's an idea -

What if the moderate factions from the democrats and the republicans break with their parties to form a third party called, oh I don't know, the Moderates?

That way the blue dog democrats could part ways with the liberal left and neo-conservatives could part ways with the far right,  thus giving the American people a clear and viable third choice.  No?

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Very unlikely to happen, no matter how many times the moderates on both sides collaborate in the Senate.

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If the neo-conservatives and blue dog democrats banded together, I think that they could sway a substantial amount of votes their way.  I can

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Good post Hwi.

Each political party encompasses so much and tries to appeal to every voter, that it is equivalent of the republican party being for and against abortion (for example). There doesn't seem to be much difference in the parties. Yes they may say they have different policies and ideologies etc, but when it comes down to it the same stuff happens no matter who is in office (or they ignore their own political policies). There are more similarities than differences between the parties.

In Canada, there are 5 "national" parties.

Your #1 concern is environment? Vote Green. They got 8% of vote last election. Probably more % than all of 3rd party/independent in USA, and Green is 5th largest party in Canada vote wise.

Live in quebec and care mostly about quebec interests? Vote bloc

Live in Prairies? Vote Conservative ;)

Want lots of government? Vote NDP

Want a middle type of government with decent fiscal policies but stole money from taxpayers? Vote Liberal

Want communism? Vote Communist party. etc.

Coming from Canada, all the media seems to talk about is the two parties in US. Ron Paul was never mentioned. It's one party or the other, and no one else has any influence on government. They happily pass power back and forth, knowing it is only a matter of 4 or 8 years before they get power back. If they had more competition (3rd party), then maybe they'd be better at what they do and you would not be able to tell they are lieing when their lips move.

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The Liberal Democrats like to think that they're the third party here. They were formally the 'moderate' party between Old Labour's left wing and the Conservative's right wing, but with New Labour's shift to the right they're now the only mainstream left-ish party. This shift seems to have led to a slight increase in the Liberal Democrat's fortunes, partly because they stand for something now, rather than being the bland middle ground between the big parties. It's unfortunate that the party has been completely unable to capitalise on their good fortune, being led by a succession of nobodies with all the charisma of a wet dishcloth (and plagued by a series of scandals from similarly uncharismatic chowderheads). Anyway, the point is that they're still going nowhere because they're so close to centre as to be almost pointless. Too right for the left, too left for the right. I suspect that if moderates in the USA were to try to band together, the same thing would happen.

On the other hand, there is an aspect in the UK that a moderate party in the US might not have to deal with: minor parties. Individually the Greens, SNP, BNP, UKIP etc don't offer a particularly large challenge to the ruling majority (except in Scotland, where the SNP are currently in power. Ha!). Together though, they could be costing a potential 'third party' a great deal of support. Given how difficult it would be to break the two-party system in the US, a third party might be able to capitalise on relative unity of those who aren't Democrat or Republican.

Personally I dislike the entire party system, but that's just me.

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If the neo-conservatives and blue dog democrats banded together, I think that they could sway a substantial amount of votes their way.  I can

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Nationwide, no third party gets more than 1% of the vote. They may be stronger at the local level in some specific regions, but not much stronger.

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Oh yeah, this is true now, and it was true for the Dems for the last 8 years. The two-party system, Edric is right, constructs an environment where it's pretty much in everyone's best interest, except the ruling government, to defy and antagonize the ruling government. Bush found this out the hard way, and I suspect Obama will as well.

But, as for third parties... I'd love to have a viable third party in the US. A good number of my friends and I have always talk about how "nice" a "Libertarian Party" would be, as that's how many of us classify our views, regardless of how true that actually is with respect to objective reality. Some sort of middle ground would be nice. And I don't dare hope for parties that have some degree of intrinsic meaning: like Labour, or a strong Green Party, or perhaps even a Christian Democrats Party. No. These would all be too much to hope for.

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Naw. A combination of disinterest and hesitation at the sight of worship of what is, for all intents and purposes, the conservative version of Obama has prevented me from learning enough about Ron Paul to really consider supporting him. Anyone who worships a politician, I've always thought, is an idiot. I suppose I'd be more into him for "Libertarian" reasons if he bucked the GOP and tried founding his own party, but as it is, the concept of being Libertarian (which I've always articulated as "do whatever you want as long as you don't infringe on the rights of others to do what they want") is pretty mutually exclusive with a number of the inflexible far-right, morality-focused, and cynical positions of the GOP. I'm a fiscal conservative, and as for what Edric might say to that, I think free-market capitalism is merely the state of nature, and regardless of what you say, believe, or try to do otherwise, any system you create will be subverted by it--I point to blat in the Soviet Union or black markets in the US in any time of financial hardship. I like the idea of "small government" when it comes to things like taxation, privacy, and other individual liberties, but I understand that those are sometimes secondary to the needs of state security. And when it comes to that, I'm an unwavering supporter of national defense and defense research, from atomic weapons to the Internet.

EDIT: And as for why I'm not a Democrat, and find it difficult to stomach voting for them even when the Republicans have shown their worst... I don't like how so many of their policies are merely the moral negation of the bad ideas the Republicans have. That doesn't necessarily make them right, you know. I don't like the idea of throwing away more of my hard-earned money to make it easier to buy a car in New Mexico or to build trout enclosures in Alabama. I suppose I can reconcile spending for alternative energy, because that really is necessary, but when I look at our rapidly-becoming-unsustainable national debt (look at the Wiki article, if we continue as we have been, by 2040, the annual income of the US Federal government will be unable to pay for just the interest on the debt), I can't reconcile government spending on Democratic Party-scale levels at all. These few bailouts we've just had I consider atrocities. When it comes to defense, a Democratic Party position is inscrutable, if even present. And in general, it's always just struck me that the Democrats have been somewhat more corrupt... Blagojevich, Burris, Edwards, Kennedy, etc.

When it comes down to it, I suppose I'm a Libertarian Green Militarist. Good luck finding a party for me.

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But aren't the two party systems dying?In Uk it was unthinkable in XIX century the third party and in the last election the third party was second!In Austria the third party of the deceased Haider (is centrist and seceded from the liberals,but in Italy they said that are nazi because italians fear the loss of SudTirol with a referendum promoted by the new austrian government) is the first party.

In Italy they are trying to impose the two party system:they want to make us choose between the post communist Democratic Party and a people of freedom that is a socialist party not very egualitarian (a huge tax for Murdoch television,no tax for the boss of people of freedom),but they are failing because the postcommunist are falling due to their uselessness (they are called "salottieri") and people of party is based only of the propaganda against the Democratic Party and on the leadership (and wealth) of Silvio Berlusconi....when he will retire there will civil war inside the party.But even with these two party that control the 90% of the information we have a three big third parties like the Lega Nord (allied only on the paper),Italia dei Valori (allied only on the paper) and UDC (independent).Strangely the only liberal party has 0,3%,the same of the theo-nazi of Forza Nuova and less of the neofascist of La Destra.

Coming back in USA situation.....a big third party is possible,they only a good leader.Theodore Roosevelt as leader of a third party has beaten the republican party.

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I know my third party, the SPUSA (Socialist Party USA) has a membership of roughly 1,500 nationwide.

The CPUSA has around 5-10,000

The greens have maybe 50,000-200,000

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But aren't the two party systems dying?In Uk it was unthinkable in XIX century the third party and in the last election the third party was second!

The 19th Century was a long time ago, and in the last general election, the third party was third.  In MEP elections in the UK there are in fact four main parties involved as well.

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In the beginning there were no parties, strictly speaking, until a broad series of alliances formed the "whigs" and the "tories." These were the main two parties (indeed, the only parties) for a while, until some more started to crop up, such as the labour party. This one drew its power from the trade unions rather than the upper classes, and over a long and hard political slog, it eventually supplanted the whigs (by then the liberals) as the party of opposition. Labour and the Conservatives have pretty much bandied the elections between them since then, with only the occasional liberal victory or national government. The liberals, meanwhile, split apart and then reformed as the Liberal Democrats in 1988, from the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. Since the rise of Labour they have been the "third party" and not doing terribly well with it.

Labour, meanwhile, has split from its roots and become 'New Labour,' which is really just another word for right-of-centre bastardry. Old Labour is still around, but their power has waned considerably. Labour is less for the workers now, more for the middle management. Blegh.

And there you have an extremely truncated and grossly simplified version of UK party history. Yay. Personally, I don't like any of the big three.

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