Health Scare: Circus Politics and Coalition Government

A common argument leveled against third party and independent activism by partisans of the duopoly system of government is that multi-party systems necessitate the formation of coalition governments that buckle under the pressure of multi-partisan legislative gridlock. Ironically, this argument is often supplemented with the claim that the two-party system is superior because each of the duopoly parties must assimilate the variegated interests of its constitutive voting blocs. A commenter at Riehl World View provides us with a perfect example:
People bash "parties" and "partisanship", but large national organizations like these are the only way to aggregate, assimilate, and articulate the interests, values, and goals of large diverse polities . . . countries with multiple party systems and proportional representation electoral systems typically have weak and ineffective coalition governments.
In other words, the two-party system is effective because it necessitates coalition building, but multi-party systems are ineffective because they necessitate coalition building.

The health care reform debate has effectively revealed the fault lines running through the Democratic Party's ruling coalition and, by extension, the limitations of 'big tent' politics under the conditions of the two-party circus state. In an interview with Rachel Maddow, Howard Dean recently asked: "What’s the point of having a 60 vote majority in the United States Senate, if you can’t produce…health care reform?" This is a question many liberal and progressive Democrats are asking themselves of late. The Kossacks, for instance, are getting restless. One disillusioned diarist writes: "It's time for a third party . . . If I wanted Republicans, I'd vote for them." The consensus being sought by the so-called Blue Dog Democrats is not pleasing conservatives either. The Other McCain writes: "Every Republican vote for such legislation is a nail in the coffin of the GOP . . . Kill the bill!" Conservative Republicans and progressive Democrats may have finally found some common ground, though a coalition is unlikely. The circus masters of the duopoly parties couldn't rent a tent that big these days.

Green Party activists, on the other hand, are beginning to capitalize on the discontent brewing on the progressive left. If Liz were Queen writes:
For at least almost 30 years we have had a one-party government. It calls itself by two names: Democratic and Republican . . . They do not represent ordinary Americans. They represent corporations over people . . . The plan they have devised will force 47 million Americans who can’t afford insurance now to buy it from the Corporate health care insurance companies that fund their campaigns . . . America needs a real second party. That appears to be the only solution short of another American revolution.
In a similar vein, Pat LaMarche provides liberals and progressives with some friendly advice in the Bangor Daily News:
Next time, you could try going Green . . . During the 2008 election cycle, the Democrats told us that we didn’t get health care reform because the Republicans were in power. OK, the reason that we don’t have health care reform now must be because the Democrats are in power.
And the Greens are not all talk either. Green Party Watch reports on Matt Reichel's ongoing bid for the congressional seat vacated by Rahm Emmanuel:
Matt Reichel, who ran on the Green Party line in the Special Election to fill Rahm’s seat in Congress earlier this Spring, is one of the first declared Green Party candidates for US House in 2010 and has hit the ground running. As reported here two weeks ago, Matt Reichel declared his intention to run for the Chicago area 5th Congressional District seat just before the Illinois Green Party State meeting. Reichel: "We were promised change we could believe in, and instead have gotten short changed. All the hope in the world isn’t going to bring Americans the peace and justice they so deserve and have so stridently demanded, not while we are stuck with the same two parties of Empire and Wall Street.”


Matt said...

I don't know if i entirely agree with what you are saying, but it is thought provoking, and that's always a good thing.

d.eris said...

What points are you skeptical about?

smitty1e said...

I think that there is danger of the two-party system devolving into the "party" system.
See this.

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