Third Party Rising?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

ATK regulars have debated the impact of the ultra conservative, "TEA Party" movement in several posts. In his post on October 12th, ATK contributor Steve suggested that the teabaggers might branch off into their own party. I discounted this suggestion at the time, because I surmised that the teabaggers don't need to do so when they really have complete control over the existing Republican Party. I thought that it was more likely that moderate Republicans would need their own party.

Judging by what is going on in one New York State Congressional race, Steve may have been right.

From what I have read, New York’s district #23 is usually a shoe-in for Republicans, but not so this year. It seems that New York Republicans aren’t conservative enough for the national party base, so Republicans like Fred Thomspon, Dick Armey and Sarah Palin have endorsed Conservative Party candidate Doug Hoffman.

Up until today it looked like the foolish teabaggers, and the outsiders like Thompson, might be about to throw a solid Republican seat to the Democrats. Today, a Daily KOS poll (Yes, Kos.) showed that the race is a dead heat between Democrat Bill Owens at 33% and Conservative candidate Doug Hoffman at 32%. The Republican, Dede Scozzafava is way behind at 21%. Other polls by conservatives have shown similar numbers.

As a Democrat I see this situation as a win, no matter what the outcome on Tuesday. If the Democrat pulls it out, that is fine with me. Add one more to the Democratic majority in Congress. If the teabaggers claim victory and strengthen a third-party base, I am OK with that too.

If the Conservative Party becomes a more permanent, growing force in politics, I see the Republican Party even more fractured that it is. The ability of Republicans to deliver statewide or national elections will be endangered, perhaps setting up a long era of Democratic governance not seen since the beginning of the New Deal era.

What’s your take?

15 comments:

B Mac 2:03 PM  

Lord, let it be so.

A house divided may not stand... but it sure as hell will be fun to watch.

Smitty 3:00 PM  

It is interesting to me that the movement that Rove created would essentially come back to eat itself. He created little pockets of voters that collectively made the Republican base, even if each individual pocket would some day be in conflict with another.

What it created was, in my mind, the political picture that is Sarah Palin and whathisname who yelled "you lie" and Glenn Beck. It created a misunderstanding, intentional or not, where to be a true conservative, you have to fit each and every little minority pocket. That creates a "pure" individual who is woefully misguided, woefully sheltered in their own small personal experience without exposure to the rest of the planet, and/or extremely rare in the extremity of their beliefs.

A Republican party full of reasonable people, willing to see a center and to strike a compromise, can't survive with a vocal portion of its traditional base calling itself "not Conservative enough."

I think this helps Dems in the short term. In the long term, like any party who's in power for too long, they too will collapse under their own weight.

As for the voracity of the 3rd party, I think it will have more adherents than the Green Party, which is a joke even to Dems. It will be a dangerous party to ignore.

That was a bunch of barely-quasi-knowledgeable wankery.

steves 3:41 PM  

I think Smitty is right and I don't have really anything to add beyond what he has to say. I saw some polling data that suggests conservatives are the largest idealogical group, so I doubt they will just fade away. The question I have is then, what is a conservative, and what do self-identified conservatives believe?

My half-assed guess is that there will be some of these far right candidates around the country, but I doubt we will see it in the presidential race.

Bob 4:17 PM  

"I saw some polling data that suggests conservatives are the largest idealogical group..."

The Repubs on Fox are waving that poll all over the place. I don't know if they actually asked people how they describe themselves politically.

I may say I am conservative personally, but liberal politically. I am conservative in my spending, how I dress, what TV I allow my kids to watch, etc. But I am a liberal on election day.

steves 6:40 PM  

That was my point. As with most polling data, it depends on how the question is asked.

I believe the question was framed in terms of politics, so I doubt that you would have said conservative. That still leaves a pretty broad spectrum. There are all kinds of conservatism: fiscal, social, etc.

Monk-in-Training 6:52 PM  

Another fascinating discussion on this website.

Reagan's magic was to keep the crazy right wing, Christianists, and financial conservatives all under control and in one tent. That is why the party always drags his name out at every possible chance. I myself worked for and voted for Reagan when I was just a young lad.

Now Pres. Bush's ghastly financial stewardship, and McCain's creation of a Frankenstein monster VP, mixed with teabaggers and all whipped to a frenzy by Fox News and Talk Radio is ripping the Reagan coalition to shreds.

Teabagger purists will hate each other with a purer, and more vitriolic fury than ever pointed at the liberals.

I know, as a white person in the South who supported civil rights, I can tell you it was a flaming hot hatred.

Not sure it is so much a third party as the Republicans splitting.

Mr Furious 6:55 PM  

They can wave that poll all they want. It doesn't mean what they think it does...

The one biggest success of the GOP over the last generation is the sullying of the word "liberal."

People are more reluctant to choose that if given another option.

If the choice offered were "Are you conservative like Sarah Palin and Dick Cheney? I suspect the numbers would come back differently.

Mr Furious 6:56 PM  

Why the fuck do national assholes like Dick Armey, Fred Thompson and Palin give a shit how pure some fucking GOP House candidate in New York State is anyway? Also.

Mr Furious 7:03 PM  

This is great news for Democrats anyway...even if the teabaggers don't successfully field third-party candidates, if the far right, purity-test contingent of the Republican party insists on vetting the races and fielding only fire-breathers, they might not split the party, but they will drive the center away for sure.

steves 7:56 PM  

Mr. F, you can twist polls all over the place, depending on the questions you ask. I am sure if you asked people if they were a liberal like __________(insert some reviled liberal here), then you would get low results. The liberal name is only reviled among non-liberals. I have yet to meet an honest to good lib that wouldn't say they were liberal. Even if they were ashamed, I seriously doubt they would say they were conservative.

Not sure it is so much a third party as the Republicans splitting.

I think you are right. No matter what happens, I don't see this as good. As a mostly independent voter, I don't want to see a gov't dominated by a single party.

Bob 10:21 PM  

"I don't want to see a gov't dominated by a single party."

In reality either do I, but since there isn't a viable, moderate Republican alive, I will be perfectly happy with the split.

Monk-in-Training 10:39 AM  

I heard this morning on the Diane Rehm show that a large percentage of Americans do, in fact want a third party. I think in our short history, one party collapses and is eventually replaced by another. One party won't rule all that long, in the end.

Bob 2:46 PM  

heard this morning on the Diane Rehm show that a large percentage of Americans do, in fact want a third party.

I agree that one party won't rule and only one conservative (small "C") party will exist. People say they want a third party becuase Americans like choice, but in the end people will choose and support only 2.

Alot of third party activitsts say the system is rigged against third partys, but I say its just the nature of the voters to only support 2.

Mr Furious 12:18 AM  

The liberal name is only reviled among non-liberals. I have yet to meet an honest to good lib that wouldn't say they were liberal. Even if they were ashamed, I seriously doubt they would say they were conservative.

Heard the word "progressive" at all the last few years? It's liberals trying to re-brand themselves.

Plenty of libs don't want to announce it. No, they probably wouldn't skip to ""conservative", but it has become more the default position as it's deemed more acceptable.

Anonymous,  12:24 PM  
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