Political Impatience and Historical Inertia

In terms of political antagonism, the only thing Republicans and Democrats fear more than one another is third party activism, which is to say, they fear competition as such. Among the usual contentions duopolists marshal against independently-minded opposition to the two-party state, we find the historical argument, according to which third party agitation is doomed to failure in the future because it has rarely succeeded in the past. However, if he is in a charitable mood, or even sympathizes with those of us who have come to the realization that the duopoly machine serves and protects itself as opposed to the public and the Constitution, then the duopolist sets aside the historical argument, and willingly concedes the inadequacy and deficiency of the two-party system, but maintains that any movement aimed at breaking the Republicrat/Demoblican duopoly sets itself a monumental task, the success of which is neither guaranteed nor likely to be achieved in the next two to four years.

Fearing third party defections from the right, partisan Republicans seek to shore up the conservative base by making a virtue of such impatience. Doctor Zero provides us with an example at Hot Air. He writes:
Conservatives have a rocky relationship with the Republican Party. America has many groups with different priorities, but we live in a two-party system. Those two parties are the Republicans and Democrats, and this is not likely to change any time soon. The price of gutting and replacing one party is decades of political oblivion . . . We’re stuck with the Republicans as a political vehicle, like it or not.
Given the lack of historical precedents (aside from the Republican Party itself!), there is little evidence to suggest that effectively organized third party activism would lead to "decades of political oblivion," especially in the so-called information age. Unlike liberal Democrats following their party's defeat in 2000, conservative Republicans do not have an obvious red herring argument, the specter of the third party spoiler, to rationalize their loss at the polls in 2008 and thus indirectly enforce party discipline in future campaigns. They are thus left only with the brute fact of the reigning duopoly form and its historical inertia to justify their continued allegiance to the two-party system.


Samuel Wilson said...

But the Republicans do have excuses for 2008, ranging from an alleged "MSM" conspiracy to suppress damning information about Obama to the machinations of ACORN. Right now, "conservative" Republicans decry McCain's failure to preach, and Bush's failure to practice, true Reaganite doctrine. They remain convinced that Republicans will win if they do both. What they'll do if the party continues to refuse remains to be seen.

d.eris said...

I was thinking of such things too, but my point was that they don't have any obvious anti-third party arguments that were immediately relevant for the election.