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Tuesday, September 07, 2010

Griper Blade: Two Parties, Big Differences

One thing I've been seeing a lot in comment threads lately is the idea that there's no real difference between Republicans and Democrats. On too many issues, you could legitimately argue that there isn't enough of a difference between the two, but to say there's no difference is just plain wrong. Part of what's driving the perception is the fact that Democrats made big gains in the last few election cycles, which practically guaranteed that Democratic incumbents would make up a wider band of the political spectrum. In a two party system, both parties have to be coalition parties and, as a result, the larger party will have more centrists. It will also have more people who would normally belong to the other party, but either couldn't get elected in that party in their districts or differ from party orthodoxy on a key issue -- say, abortion or environmentalism.

But I suppose I should've said that "in a two party system, both parties have to be coalition parties most of the time." Republicans did so poorly in recent elections that candidates in all but the most conservative districts lost, for the most part. It acted as a party purge, driving out the ideologically impure and leaving a party where all members are in agreement on almost everything. In short, Democrats look like a lot like the Republicans used to, because the political middle had swung so far toward the Democratic pole that it took some of the Republican coalition with it. And that's what's swinging back again. Check the results in November; you'll see that very few actual progressives have lost, but that many centrists and Blue Dogs will be joining the ranks of the unemployed. A lot of those centrists and Blue Dogs will be replaced by extremely conservative candidates, but that's because the GOP and the Tea Party are only allowing the most ideologically pure wingnuts to run and win their primaries. They're getting way ahead of that swinging middle and I wouldn't expect those gains to hold. In fact, if the gains are as great as some believe, the House of Representatives will become gridlock central -- at the worst possible time -- and the GOP will take most of the blame. While the economy burns, House Republicans will be fiddling with doomed bills to allow guns in churches, declare global warming a hoax, and privatize Social Security, Medicare, Medicaid, and -- oh, I don't know -- national parks or something.

But if you really need convincing that there's no difference between Republicans and Democrats, here ya go:

Jobs graph show employment growth after stimulus
Click for full size

Tell me -- with a straight face -- that the stimulus would've passed in a Republican-controlled congress...[CLICK TO READ FULL POST]

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