It’s Time for a Multi-Party State

House Speaker John Boehner

House Speaker John Boehner (Photo: Andy Wiltrout. Some rights reserved.)

Alright! I have avoided much overtly political conversation on this blog to date, but the Federal government’s inability to work out a debt deal is driving me crazy. It is time for the different factions in Congress to split into their own parties. This is not to say that they cannot form coalitions to elect house-wide leadership or to pass bills. However, we need to free up the leadership and each parties’ membership to state their true alliances.

The main divide we see right now is between the House Speaker John Boehner-led Republican old guard and those most often cited as being backed by the Tea Party. It is time for the Tea Party to formally become a political party with its own members of Congress. This would make the lines between each group much more clear so that the various groups may focus on what is really important to them and their constituents.

Of course the real question here is whether the Tea Party is more powerful working through the Republican Party or separate from it. Boehner and the Republican old guard have the most to lose from a formal split with Tea Party backers. They would either have to give more power to the Tea Party in order to maintain a coalition or switch to working more closely with the Democrats. Even without a formal split, that’s what seems to be happening. Boehner’s trying to figure out whether he and the Republican Party have more to lose by bending more to Tea Party supporters or toward Democratic members. Republicans gained control of the House because of Tea Party support, but at least some Democrats are needed to get a deal into law.

I have been in support of a multi-party system for many years. I would love to see more choices throughout the political spectrum. I am tired of a one-on-one party fight, and now I’m tired of an internal party fight. Let’s break into a multi-party system, coming together where we have agreement and finding other partners when we don’t. The people of the United States deserve to know where their political leadership truly stands.

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6 thoughts on “It’s Time for a Multi-Party State

  1. Tho’tful insights…but I wonder if the problem comes more from the way our congressional districts are drawn which keeps persons from finding a common ground in the center because now the extremes in the parties have more clout in the home districts. And it’s all about being re-elected. If district were drawn more on geographical lines rather than political, many districts would more likely have more of a cross section of voters and thus would more likely be willing to compromise to meet the needs of their district.

    • I agree that most congressional redistricting is problematic. This year the internet is allowing many more people to participate in the process. However, the power still rests with the majority party of many states. I wish we could adopt a non-partisan computerized program to re-draw the lines using appropriate criteria. I may need to write another post to lay out criteria I see as important. Nevertheless, the important thing would be that party affiliation or past voting trends would not come into play.

  2. I don’t see the divide so much as old-guard Reagan Republicanism versus the Tea Party as it is Conservatism ejecting moderates from the party. To some degree this Conservative triumphalism is a swing back in the political pendulum from the neo-con days of W. (ie. “Deficits don’t matter” – D. Cheney ’03ish). That triumphalism makes it, at least for me, difficult to see the edges that separate the Tea Party from the larger body of Conservatism. I think it will be some time before the “Tea Party” would be able to form a demarcated and sustainable third party. As far as social movement theory goes, the Tea Party’s current effectiveness rests in its outsider status, its status as a protest movement largely for middle-aged, middle and lower-middle class white people whose class consciousness and (as B. Ehrenreich would say, “fear of falling”) has mobilized them at the grass roots. There is, however, a wide chasm between grassroots movements and governing – an effective protest movement is rarely an effective governing body (as we see starkly in Washington right now).

    • Yes, unfortunately our political system is not helpful to sustain more than two political parties. I believe there are ways we can change this on a local level. Only after a third party establishes itself within a region will it have a chance to appear on the Congressional stage. If a third party tries to break on the national scene without a local base it will either die quickly (e.g. Perot’s Reform Party) or replace a previously established party. Though we haven’t seen the later happen since Lincoln became the first Republican President. Of course, one could argue that the Republican party was able to establish itself as a northern regional party before it became a national party.

    • Hmm, I’m a little hesitant about term limits. I think experience matters sometimes. However, I may be able to support a plan that would allow someone to run again after sitting out a couple years. That would give others some experience and allow the public to see if another could do the job better. If it turns out that the new person can’t, voters could then return their former member to Congress.

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