May 15, 2016

The American multi-party system of shifting coalitions, and third party prospects today

The topic of third parties is coming up, what with the empty talk of the Conservative Movement (TM) running an independent candidate, and the more realistic prospect of Bernie running as an independent (or at any rate, his supporters choosing him as a write-in candidate rather than Crooked Hillary).

Many on the progressive side wish there were more than just the two national parties -- "like they have in Sweden," or wherever else they imagine electoral utopia exists.

But America already has a multi-party system -- each of the two parties is always a coalition of several distinct factions. Before the recent disruptions of Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders, the Republicans were a coalition of the US Chamber of Commerce, the Cultural Right, and the neoconservative warhawks, while the Democrats were a coalition of the US Chamber of Commerce, the Cultural Left, and neoliberal regime-changers.

Even the Cultural Left and Right are coalitions of distinct factions who don't have anything immediately in common, and have to convince each other that there's a bigger cause uniting them all -- pro-lifers, preppers, gun nuts, apocalyptic cults, etc. on the Right, and AIDS propagators, feminazis, aggrieved racial minorities, cosplay environmentalists, etc. on the Left.

"In Sweden" (or wherever), each of these narrowly focused groups might found their own party and run their own candidates. Given how narrow their focus is, they would likely form coalition governments after the election was held.

In America, they form coalitions before the election, and each of these coalitions runs in the general election. It seems better to build the coalition first, so you can hit the ground running if you win the election, rather than cultivate relationships and ties with a coalition government after the election, wasting precious time when you're already in office.

Still, why not three major parties, each of them a coalition as now? Probably to prevent yet another level of coalition-building. With three equally strong major parties, two would probably have to join up in a super-coalition against the third. This would be another case of having to establish links, build relationships, and so on, after the election, wasting time while in office.

And why not just one party? That might work during exceptionally harmonious periods, like the Era of Good Feelings when the Democratic-Republican Party went unopposed at the national level. Otherwise, we're going to need some choice between competing interests.

The other knock against the two-party system is that it encourages ossification of whose interests are represented by the only effective parties. But that's not true either, because the composition of either party's coalition is always subject to change, or re-alignment.

The Republican coalition during the Bush Sr. and Jr. era would have looked utterly alien to the Republican coalition of the Eisenhower and Nixon era. Back then, it was the Democrats who were more established in the Deep South, and who were interventionist warhawks. Likewise the Democrat coalition of the Clinton and Obama era would look totally foreign to the Democrat coalition of the FDR and JFK era -- what happened to the working class and labor unions, the backbone of the New Deal coalition?

Third parties do occasionally achieve national success, but they are short-lived reactions by defectors from one of the two parties, intended to punish the other members of the coalition who have betrayed the defecting group. They realize they will not win the general election as a break-off faction of one of the two parties -- the point is to punish past wrongdoing within the party, and serve as a credible threat against any future betrayal within the party.

Importantly, they are swift responses against the incumbent party -- not delayed grudges.

Nader 2000 was mostly a reaction against the Democrats selling out during the Clinton era of elitist and globalist New Democrats. Perot '92 and '96 was a reaction against both the elitist / globalist policies of the Bush Sr. party, as well as the incipient New Democrats. Anderson '80 was a reaction by former Carter voters who wanted more of a moderate who didn't mention he was a born-again Christian. Wallace '68 and Thurmond '48 were both reactions by Deep Southerners who didn't like where the Democrats were headed with desegregation, during and after WWII, when the Democrat administration desegregated the Army. Progressive Party runs by Roosevelt '12 and La Follette '24 were both reactions against the Republicans for becoming too conservative.

Really the only third-party campaign that consistently broke into single digits with the national popular vote was the Socialist Party in the early 20th C., a social-democratic party that was not a break-away from either the Democrats or Republicans. But with both major parties including the working class in their coalitions -- first the progressive Republicans, and later the New Deal Democrats -- there wasn't enough reason to go outside into a third party based mostly on labor rights, with no broader coalition to build. No broad coalition means no chance at the national level.

So what does this bode for the current season? If anyone is going to break off from the Republicans, it's the Cultural Right / Tea Party. Enough of them seem to be on board the Trump train, though (maybe 50%), that they aren't cohesive enough to make a run of their own. If they did, it would be in the heart of the Cuck Belt, the Plains, a la Ben Sasse continuing to pipe up about a "consistent conservative" candidate.

However, the Republicans haven't held the Presidency for eight years, so it's a bit late to launch a retaliation to punish a betrayal from the '00s. That was the Tea Party Congressional landslide of 2010, and that's already run out of gas, not to mention getting eclipsed by the Trump phenomenon at the national level in 2016.

If anything, it would be progressives bolting the Democrats to punish getting sold out by Obama and Crooked Hillary. Unlike the Tea Partiers, the "Bernie or bust" people still have fresh wounds and a bad taste in their mouths. Whether they draft Bernie to run as an independent, write him in, or flock to the Green Party, remains to be seen. A good chunk of blue-collar Sanders supporters will come around to Trump, another good chunk will stay home, and only a handful will turn out for Clinton.

The progressives, though, are a separate faction within the Bernie coalition. They won't vote for Trump, and they seem too energized to wind up staying home in November, after the superdelegates deliver the nomination to Crooked Hillary on a silver platter. It could be a Perot-sized rift on the Democrats' side, which would help Trump pick up divided blue states that would otherwise be an uphill battle (Colorado, Washington), in the same way Bill Clinton picked up red states that were divided by Perot (Georgia in '92, Arizona in '96).

Everything is lining up for a wipe-out victory for the Trump movement. The only likely third-party rift is on the Democrats' side, and the Republicans are quickly re-aligning to shed dead weight and appeal to a much wider base, who are growing the party in record numbers. The Democrat Establishment is only bent on worsening their own problems -- antagonizing the Bernie crowd (e.g., the Nevada Convention this weekend), defending the superdelegate process, and courting neocons and Wall Street mega-donors from the Establishment Republicans who are leaving the inchoate Party of Trump.

It's gonna be epic.


  1. I try to tell a lot of my colleagues this, but we are in the midst of the Neocons being friendless for a few years, huge deal

  2. And they're not one of the enduring groups that will find its way into one coalition or another -- like blacks, the working class, married with children, etc.

    Neocons are so distinctly Jewish, it's not even like they'll find a place with the Dems if they re-align to be like they were under Truman, JFK, and Johnson. The wars in Korea and Vietnam weren't on behalf of Jewish or Israeli interests.

    Just about every enduring political group is growing very tired of fighting Israel's wars in the Middle East. I don't even see the groups in the Dem coalition giving much of a shit.

    The only groups who still care a lot are the apocalyptic Judaizer cults. Not "Christians" or even "Evangelicals," but specifically the ones who are more interested in LARP-ing as Second Temple Jews than they are in Christianity (of any period and place).

    But these Judaizers are rapidly being marginalized within the Republican Party, and Lord knows they won't be quickly accepted into the Dem coalition.

    They want to live like cosplay Jews? -- then they and their neocon models can wander in the wilderness for 40 years.

  3. advancedatheist5/16/16, 12:37 AM

    The Christians who hold these ridiculous "end times" beliefs don't seem to realize that Israel has more going for it than deserts, goats, ancient ruins and rabbis. If anything, Israel more resembles a secular advanced society out of science fiction - surveys show a low level of religiosity in the neighborhood of the levels found in many European countries. A country with at least one company capable of breaking into iPhone encryption acts more like a 21st Century nation than a nation of religious obsessives from biblical times.

  4. They should re-make Never on Sunday, where some prepper pastor from Nebraska travels to Jerusalem, falls under the spell of a large-breasted brunette, but it turns out she's an oy-vey-ing shrew who can't even speak proper Classical Hebrew.

  5. 44% of West Virginia Sanders voters would switch to Trump in the general if Hildebeest is the alternative

  6. Agnostic,
    Have you been doing a deep dive into U.S. electoral history since the Trump phenomenon? In any event, very well done! I always say that I discovered Steve Sailer when going studying criminality and finding so much lacking; we can always count on you to, whatever subject you get interested in, to illuminate what was there all along, but missed or ignored.

    I suspect you're right about the Bernie faction. Things do seem a bit different over there with even harder feelings than I can recall in any election. It *will* be tempered some by those old enough to remember the 2000 election, but at the same time, those old enough to remember that aren't Sanders' biggest supporters anyway.

    What I get from reading Hillary backers is that they truly do not grasp how off-putting her being in bed with companies like Monsanto is and the like. I strongly believe that Trump sharing a bit of that mindset that is sensitive to and wary of things like vaccines* (and probably nonorganic food, etc.) could be a huge help in keeping these voters from Hillary.
    *I don't think he's anti-vaccine, but probably concerned that they're not as safe as they could be; suspect he was willing to give a listen and believe they're culpable while in the midst of a personal crisis.

    The Monsanto thing epitomizes both her corruption and how little she shares with people who value purity; that's a huge chunk of people she has turned off at a very visceral level!
    I would just keep uttering "Monsanto" to keep them away from her.

  7. "Have you been doing a deep dive into U.S. electoral history since the Trump phenomenon?"

    I just couldn't help myself, Dahlia. It's too exciting not to get into.

    Normally I ignore politics because there's little at stake other than culture war grandstanding. Last time I got interested was when there was a real movement about the economy and government per se -- the anti-globalization movement of the early 2000s, and the Nader campaign.

    I understood why it wasn't covered so much back then -- not a huge movement, and its goals were totally against any mainstream media or politician's interests.

    But with Trump dominating so much media coverage, where they could no long prevent someone from advocating for a 35% tariff on Ford cars made in Mexico, it seemed like we'd be getting better commentary this time around, especially since he was competing for a major party instead of third party.

    Instead, it's been mostly the same kind of media / politician response that there was to Perot and Nader, only dialed up to 11 since their enemy this time is such a juggernaut.

    It's worse because we live in the era of BIG DATA, which I knew would throw everybody off about "historically speaking..." That, plus being a naturally curious person, left me no choice but to go through more of the electoral history.

  8. "Things do seem a bit different over there with even harder feelings than I can recall in any election."

    The rift is going to be much greater than the Nader split in 2000. The Bernie people will have been involved in a major party for over a year, once the Convention comes, so they're getting a nasty taste of how a major party operates. No different from how the Trump people learned about how rigged the Republican process is.

    For Bernie voters, it's no longer an ideological difference, as if they'd been running a third party campaign all along. They actually chose to get involved in a relationship with the Democratic Party, and now they feel betrayed by the Clinton machine.

    That social betrayal is going to leave a nastier scar than merely having a difference of opinion about policy.

    The DNC think the Bernie people will eventually get over it, like it's just a fair competition and as long as the winner acts gracious, the loser will come around. But what they're doing is not just throwing a few illegal elbows, it's rigging the entire rules against Bernie, and bald-facedly defending this rigged process when they complain about it.

    The moron talking heads are saying the "Bernie or bust" crowd will come around like the Hillary supporters did in 2008. That wasn't the entire Democrat machine training its fire on one of the candidates, though, especially the one drawing the largest crowds and number of new voters.

    It was as fair of a fight as there could have been between her and Obama, and both groups of supporters were party loyalists.

    This time, much of Bernie's support is outside the party (as Bernie is himself), and it's been Crooked Hillary and the DNC sabotaging the other side. I'd be surprised if more than 1/3 of the Bernie voters turn out for her in the fall.

    1. You're right and another antagonizing factor is that they can look over onto the Republican side and see that we got our populist: he overcame the machinery and won. Makes their loss more bitter.
      Didn't immediately upon Cruz exiting the race and Trump the de facto nominee that an anti-Hillary hashtag began trending on twitter? #DropOutHillary or some such??
      (Seriously, we all know the Blacks would have cost Bernie the election even if everything was above board, but it doesn't assuage feelings given everything you said.)

      It reminds me a lot of Ron Paul and the machinations at the 2012 convention, but really, it doesn't compare. The CounterPunch articles about "Progressive Inc." that chronicle the changing and making of the Democratic apparatus in response to the 2000 election are illuminating.
      I don't remember why the Democratic Party presidential primary is a little less democratic than the Republican Party, but I want to think it is relatively recent and borne out of that same post-2000 movement.

  9. "I strongly believe that Trump sharing a bit of that mindset that is sensitive to and wary of things like vaccines* (and probably nonorganic food, etc.) could be a huge help in keeping these voters from Hillary."

    Especially out on the West Coast, where the vaccine skeptics are the most common. All of the back-East commentators rolled their eyes when he made that remark about vaccines in an early debate, but I'll bet that single remark got a lot of West Coasters to let their guard down and give him a fair hearing.

    And which company does he keep promising is going to start making their products here in this country? Apple!

    Push hard about IT workers getting job security and better incomes by taking away the visa abuse by Silicon Valley employers, and he's got a good shot at winning back California, Oregon, and Washington.

  10. What do you think about Trump's apparent overtures to Adelson and the GOP "kingmakers" (as well as Queen Graham)? Just trying to prevent any serious neokahn chimpout I think/hope. The megadonors are probably not going to throw serious weight this late in and I doubt Trump would even want that.

  11. Adelson has already been running some pro-Trump articles in his Israeli newspapers, I doubt a donation will change much.


    "In 1988, Jesse Jackson faced a similar challenge in keeping his restless supporters in the party fold, while also pressing the Dukakis camp for substantive concessions.

    So he took a highly calibrated approach to the party. He negotiated with Dukakis’ aides a platform that reflected much of his liberal agenda, though scrubbed of elements deemed too controversial. Three planks left out were brought to the floor for debate, but Jackson did not force a floor vote on the most divisive of the three: “self-determination” for Palestinians.

    The moral victory of exercising influence over the platform may have looked ephemeral in the years that followed: The defeat of Dukakis was blamed on excessive liberalism, leading to the 1992 nomination of Bill Clinton who took the party in a moderate direction. But Jackson in 2000 enthused at how much he was able to influence the White House in the Clinton years as well as catapult his top staffers into the Democratic Party apparatus. And had he not kept his supporters inside the Democratic tent, neither Clinton’s presidency nor Obama’s more liberal administration would have been possible."

    That explains a lot.

    "Sanders never endorsed Nader, but he did endorse Jackson in 1988. If he wants his 2016 campaign to leave a lasting legacy on the Democratic Party, he’ll walk Jackson’s path at the convention, and do everything he can to prevent his supporters from walking Nader’s."

    Looks like Bernie, both then and now, is ultimately afraid to not be on Team Democrat. He could've solidified his antipathy towards partisanship and stupid ID politics by standing with Nader back then. Now Bernie doesn't want to be too hard on Hillary and the Dem elites, lest he be accused of aiding Trump. If even Bernie can't bring himself to cross the Dem elites (though admittedly his mere continuing presence in the race, in any form, is giving the elites conniptions) , who will? Nader did the right thing but was the victim of bad timing. Sander's has the perfect window to run 3rd party. The Dem elites and middle aged blacks are too enthralled to the Clinton machine and ID politics to give Bernie the nom. But Bernie has enough support at this point, and Hillary is such a wobbling mess propped up barely by decades of chicanery and aggrieved blacks, to easily beat Hillary in the general election.

    It's the blacks, stupid. The Dem elites are so fixated by a population of what, 10-12% of America? We can't let sullen blacks continue to drag us down, and we won't in either this election or in the oncoming Trump America.

  13. It makes more sense to pander to "Hispanics" now, but they a pretty pathetic group as well when it comes to political talent, Sailer has wrote at length about the failure of the Hispanic political juggernaut. Julian Castro is the best the Dems can come up with ffs.

  14. In 1988, the Dems were not incumbent, so Jesse Jackson could not have run third-party -- it only happens in reaction to the incumbent party.

    It's more of a threat to take something away that's actually being held (incumbent presidency) than to promise to give something that may be beyond your ability to deliver (flipping the presidency to the non-incumbent party).

    Dems have been incumbent for 8 years, so it's more likely for the Bernie voters to break away in order to punish the incumbent party.

    Jackson also didn't have a massive grassroots movement like Bernie does -- it was mostly existing Dem loyalists and activists, not tons of new people flooding in. No regular rallies with tens of thousands of people.

    Bernie was pretty harsh on the Dem Establishment in his speech tonight in California. Not to mention all the unapologetic discussion about being robbed in Nevada over the weekend. It's been fun to watch CNN and MSNBC again because there's an open feud between the two sides now.

    Even if he does capitulate in Philadelphia, so what? His voters are not puppets on a string, or disciples of a guru. They are a massive grassroots movement that just came into being, and he's being carried by them, not he leading them along.

    He can directly order every one of his supporters to not only go to the polls in November rather than stay home, but to vote for Hillary, and they won't obey him. They'll accuse him of selling out, and how he used to be cool before he became too popular with the Establishment, and we're not going to just do what you've been pressured into telling us.

    The blue-collar people who gave him a big win in Michigan will vote Trump. The apathetic ones will sit it out. And the energized progressives will either write in his name, vote Green, or something other than casting a vote for Crooked Hillary.

    Tonight the crowd was chanting "Bernie or bust!" -- meaning, #NeverHillary. I haven't followed his speeches, but I'm guessing they weren't chanting that a month or so ago. Now that she's looking more and more likely to get it, they're getting more defiant about sticking with the populist platform, whether or not Bernie still wants their vote in November.

  15. "It's the blacks, stupid. The Dem elites are so fixated by a population of what, 10-12% of America?"

    And yet they actually win elections. Bush '00 was possibly a win, possibly not, and Bush '04 was one of the slimmest wins for a re-election. Aside from that weak performance, the Dems have trounced the Republicans since 1992.

    Why? If they're pandering to a hardcore base that's only 10-15% of America, what about the Republicans who made their hardcore base a bunch of apocalyptic natalist cult members in states with tiny electoral vote prizes? We're talking 1-5% of America.

    We're so lucky that Trump swooped in when he did. We can't continue to exist as a nation when the bulwark against leftoid corporate globalism is the Mormons.

    Trump's intuitive sense of timing is great -- if he'd run in 2012, there wouldn't have been the possibility of Bernie supporters breaking away from the other party.

  16. OT: but this is lol on so many levels

  17. She lost the gay whoosh to appeal to normal women, although her face still looks bitter and nasty. Not even a wholesome '80s throwback hairdo can counteract that dyke's sour mug.

  18. This comment has been removed by the author.

  19. Sorry you can delete the above post I forgot the link.

    This is a great post about Trump's Supreme Court picks(. you'll notice there's something very different about his compared to the current justices!


  20. Inspired by your phrase "the Cuck Belt," I created THIS emergent map of the U.S.

    In gathering the data for it, I was surprised to see Nebraska voting for Trump in 100% of its counties -- thus avoiding the Cuck Belt designation -- while neighboring Kansas and Wyoming voted Cruz cleanly along the border. Any explanation?


  21. Nebraska would have gone for Cruz if he hadn't dropped out two weeks earlier. By the time they got to vote, Republicans were already in "rally around Trump" mode.


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