The primary elections have picked the finalists in the four political parties competing for power in Missouri and nationally. Republican, Democrat, Libertarian, Constitution. All we have to do now is put up with the parry and thrust of campaign commercials for another ten or eleven weeks after which silence can ensue for a short time before candidates start staking out their ground and picking their billionaire bedmates for 2018, but especially 2020.
It surely occurs to amateur and professional political observers that this year’s campaigns are raising questions about political party identities. Given the divisions within the Republican Party that led to the nomination of the party’s presidential candidate, and the discomfort in the Democratic Party stemming from the intrusion of a DINO in that party’s primary campaign, both parties are likely to be asking themselves during the next couple of years, “Who are we?” And dissident factions in the parties could continue to be clods in the political punchbowls.
RINO and DINO are disparaging terms applied by the most uptight party regulars to those who are Republicans or Democrats “in Name Only.”
What to do with them? What might they do with themselves? Might we have more than four parties in our near future?
We harken back to 1991 when the National Association of Broadcasters, operating under a program established at the urging of the Secretary of State, sent your correspondent and two other broadcasters to Romania and Poland to conduct seminars on the development of independent (non-state controlled) radio stations and their news departments. It had been less than two years after Romania had executed its Communist Premier and just a year or so after the Berlin Wall started coming down.
If you think American politics are in disarray today, consider what these two newly-free countries were dealing with then—and to a lesser but no less scrambled situation today. It was different for Romania and Poland than it was two centuries earlier for the new United States. Here, our politics had a long-standing British system to modify. In Iron Curtain countries where people had known only one political system that allowed no differences of opinion, freedom became a political free-for-all.
We were told in 1991 that both countries had more than 100 political parties. Many were ethnic-based. Some coalesced around single issues or popular figures. Although ten parties now have delegates in the Romanian Parliament, two parties that are center-right and center-left dominate. But there are 35 parties holding office in local and county areas.
In Poland, which we were told was not as heavily oppressed as Romania because of the power of the Catholic Church, there are fifteen parties with representatives in parliament today and 33 other parties at local and county levels. Two parties dominate parliament, one is considered center-right to right wing national conservative and the other is considered center-right liberal conservatism (that’s what we’re told and we’re not quite sure we understand it, given our American political structure’s definitions.).
Both countries have scads of splinter parties.
So the idea that we might have more official or unofficial movements in this country apart from the two major parties is interesting. The Republican and Democrat centrists might see this year’s—-uh—-what’s the right word to describe what’s going on? Craziness? Weirdness? Wildness? Populist uprising? The right word is out there somewhere. We hope.
Anyway, where do the fringe people go if the centrists are able to regain control of the major parties? Will the most loyal Trumpists try to take over the Libertarians? What existing structure can the Sandersonians adhere themselves to or do the most ardent members become a liberal counterpart of the Constitution Party? Or will the Rs and Ds become Ts and Ss?
Or will everybody just grow up and decide maybe there’s some value in two parties working together and seeing if half-loaves are possible to bake?
Here in this lofty observation platform that likes to consider itself bi-partisan reasonably American Centrist in character, we’ll be interested to see how calm the political waters might become in 2017, a non-election year when, we hope, fevered brows are cooled and reason has a chance to resurface in state and national policy-making. Who knows? Maybe our legislature will develop the guts and the intelligence in a non-election year to give us non-million-and-billionaires something approaching more equal fiscal-political opportunities for influence. We’re not counting on such a miracle but Hell has frozen over from time to time (Hell, Michigan, that is).
But there is comfort in knowing one thing: No matter how bad things are today in American politics, we are not so splintered as a people that we will have ten or fifteen parties with representatives in Congress or even more in our legislature.
But then again—-if a party is forced to build coalitions with others in government as opposed to accepting agendas from those in the government hallways, might there be some improvements in the way things are done?
Ahhhhh, politics. There will never be an end to talk of what is and what could be.