The general elections of 2008 may mark the end of the two-party system in America. In this election campaign we were exposed to only two presidential candidates, Barack Obama and John McCain. The other eight candidates got virtually no air time or press. I don’t consider that fair, but it’s just the way things are. The media have decided that America has a two-party system, and if you don’t like one “major” party, your only choice should be the other “major” party.
That forced voters into artificial alliances, and it destroyed the Republican Party. (Yes, I know, the Republican Party destroyed itself.) The evangelicals (photo at right) were obliged to link arms with advocates of small-government, fiscal responsibility, states rights, deregulation and a host of other issues that they were not interested in or were actually averse to.
The evangelicals certainly don’t believe in small government, for one thing. And, as this election proved neither does the majority of Americans. They want a government that governs. You can readily understand why this would be appealing in a time of crisis. With the divergent and often conflicting interests of 300 million people to sort out, the country is too big and unwieldy for referendum-style democracy. I can’t think of a country that’s run by referendum and I wouldn’t want to live in one.
There is a substantial minority of Americans, however, who resent government interference in their lives. These people feel that bureaucracy causes inefficiency and waste, and citizens should be free to fend for themselves. I can relate to that. I wouldn’t live in one of those subdivisions that dictate what color my house should be and how high I can let my grass grow. And I hate filling out forms the way you have to do when you apply for a federal grant or loan. But I know in my heart of hearts that you simply can’t run a country of 300 million people without a strong central government.
Here’s how I see the American political scene evolving. First, the evangelicals will control the rump of the Republican Party, rallying around Sarah Palin (and/or Mike Huckabee?). They will be joined by Zionist neo-cons (a match literally made in Heaven) and other foreign-policy hawks. And they will probably retain the white supremacists and other bigots who poisoned the recent election campaign. But they will lose the Phil Gramm-style deregulators and the true believers in small government, states rights, fiscal responsibility and so on. My guess is that these dissidents will find a home in Bob Barr’s Libertarian Party. I think Ron Paul (photo above, left) will abandon the Republicans to return to his Libertarian roots, for example.
Barr (photo above, right) is a former conservative Republican congressman who was turned off by the Bush deficits. I can see him making a persuasive case for those who still believe in balanced budgets and abolition of federal welfare programs. My problem with that approach is that someone has to do the governing, and with the federal government adopting a hands-off approach, the states will have to step up. With our freedom to move freely across state lines, this creates a situation where if one state has a benevolent welfare system it would quickly be swamped by the homeless and needy from other states.
I can see some elements in the Democratic Party leaving the fold, too. For example, gays and lesbians were hardly mentioned in this year’s Democratic agenda, and some may find the Libertarians’ policies more attractive. I doubt that Obama, pragmatist that he is, will have much time for that kind of social activism. He will do whatever works, and that seems to call for a “common-sense” approach. He might lose some of the so-called progressives in his party as he hews to the center line in search of consensus. (Mike Gravel already has crossed over to the Libertarians.)
In sum, I predict the emergence of the Libertarian Party as a major force in American politics. They will attract funding from Big Business and attention from the media. The two-party system will be history. In the new three-party environment, the Democrats will represent a strong federal government that accepts responsibility for the life and livelihoods of its citizens. The Republicans will try to create a theocracy with church-based schools and enforced morality (as they see it). Abortion will be their major target, but they will also espouse “holy wars.” The Libertarians will provide a home for “intellectual conservatives,” frontier-style loners and fiscal-responsibility disciples.
And, let us not forget the other parties: Constitution, Green, Prohibition, Socialist Workers and Socialist Vermont Liberty Union, Objectivists and the Boston Tea Party. My personal view is that the Constitution Party should merge with the Libertarians and the Green Party should join the Democrats. The Objectivist Party, which seeks to promote Ayn Rand’s philosophy, would probably be at home with the Libertarians, too.
What about the Socialists, the Prohibitionists and the Boston Tea Party? I’ll leave that to you to decide.