Spoiling for a Fight

A number of months ago, Newt Gingrich caused a small stir in the duopoly media-sphere when he warned Republicans that conservatives may seek out a third party alternative to the GOP in 2012, "if Republicans can't break out of being the right wing party of big government." Undoubtedly, this fear informs the electoral strategy he recently proposed in an interview with The Washington Times. Via Lev's Area:
In his interview with The Washington Times, Mr. Gingrich sketched out a vision for conservatives and Republicans to block what he considers the Obama-Democratic march to socialism by thinking outside the party-label box. That includes building a center-right majority in Congress and the state legislatures — regardless of party identification — even if that means the heretical idea of Republicans actively promoting and backing conservative Democratic candidates in selected races where a GOP candidate would have little chance of winning.
In an apology for the anti-duopoly from just last week, I suggested that Phillip Jackson's 'New Political Strategy for Conservatives,' in which he argued that conservatives should join the Democratic Party, was written tongue-in-cheek. Perhaps I misread the tone of the piece. Nonetheless, a conservative two-party strategy along these lines would certainly cause headaches for the Democrats. If effective, it could very well lead more liberals to reconsider their brand loyalty. But the very idea points toward a facet of duopoly ideology worthy of consideration in the present context.

Mimicry is a favored tactic of duopoly strategists. For instance, when the Obama campaign's slogans of 'hope' and 'change' began to resonate with the public, Republicans quickly picked up on the memes and integrated them into their stump speeches and talking points. An editorial in The Wasington Times from September 2008, entitled "Stealing Obama's Rhetoric," begins:

It may be some consolation to Barack Obama that - perhaps as the highest tribute to his eloquence - the Republican Party has appropriated many of the key words he uses. In the blink of an eye, the party of national security, limited government and family values has become the party of "reform."

By appropriating the rhetoric and style, the tactics and strategies, if not also the actual positions of their opponents, duopoly strategists seek to level out the competitive advantages that distinguish one campaign or candidate from the other. However, Gingrich's conservative two-party strategy cannot be co-opted or emulated by Democrats, or if so, only with great difficulty. Liberals already have enough trouble electing their own among the Democrats, let alone among Republicans. A Gallup Poll from June broke down broke down respondents' political ideology by party identification and found that "22% of Democrats consider themselves conservative, much higher than the 3% of Republicans identifying as liberal." However, liberal Democrats with a Machiavellian streak might take a more radical tack than Gingrich, and support third party and independent candidates, in competitive races, who are likely to attract voters who would otherwise vote Republican.

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