C’mon fight! Fight! Fight!
Prior to the 2000 election, I used to tell people that all I wanted was a two-party system. More often than not, they’d look at me and say, “But there’s the Republicans and the Democrats.”
And I would respond, “Exactly.”
Then the Great Uniter got elected, and George W. “Mr. Bipartisan” Bush led a team of… we’ll call them people, who generated a divide that rivaled the Marianas Trench. At first, it looked like the typical divide between the Grand Old Party and the Democrats. Then it was a divide between the GOP and “them” – specifically anyone who disagreed with them, publicly branded as unpatriotic on a good day to a motherfucking terrorist with a vial of nuclear anthrax wedged up their ass at a gay orgy on a bad day.
It was “my way or the highway,” as the guy who swore to bring everyone in government back together drove a wedge between the White House and every disagreeable government, then every agreeable government, then it’s own government, and through it all – the American people.
I predicted – and history backed me up – that this hubris, blatant strong-arming and division can’t endure more than six years without a backlash.
So, the Democrats got back into the game.
However, the Democrats didn’t win by virtue of uniting under one banner against the other team. They did, but not so much. They didn’t win so much as the other team lost.
While the president of the Evangelical whathaveyou was outed as a meth-addicted purveyor of male prostitutes, it was announced weeks before the election that W. (he’s the Great Uniter, by the way) used the Christian Right – his “base” – for their money and their vote and didn’t care what they wanted from the White House.
After the fallout, the Republicans turned on each other. John McCain, previously seen as the next natural Republican Presidential candidate, can’t get support from the staunch right wing of his own party, because he’s not a staunch right wing kinda guy, but he can’t get a grip on the general moderate of any party, because (among other things) he gives speeches to Christian fundamentalist right-wing groups.
But here’s where it turns weird.
Yesterday, the House Democrats broke with their incoming Speaker, Nancy Pelosi, and elected Rep. Steny H. Hoyer to be House majority leader. Hoyer got 63 more votes than Pelosi’s choice Murtha.
It gets better. Everyone, especially Pelosi and Murtha, thought it would be a real horse race. Pelosi was making the hard calls, and they were pledging their votes for Murtha. But, somewhere in the mix, about 60 Democrats lied to their new, vaunted Speaker. It was the first real political action the first female House leader made. And she tanked.
All week, Democrats have been pointing fingers at each other, like they lost the election (again). I won’t even get into who’s blaming who, but it’s a bunch of crap about who takes credit for winning, and who gets blamed for not winning enough. From the average American Joe’s perspective, this looks like high school locker drama bullshit. And to an extent it is. It’s the kind of behavior that makes you shake your head and silently whisper to yourself, “Can’t you fucking assholes get along and actually accomplish something, like balance the goddamn checkbook or something?”
However, I don’t see it that way. I want this division. I want this angst and disagreement, and I’ll tell you what turned the table for me:
According to today’s Slate:
[T]his whole conflict “sent a clear signal of what kind of leader [Pelosi] is: an old-style politician who puts a premium on personal loyalty, even at the risk of high-profile defeat.”
James Moran of Virginia, didn’t seem to get over his bitterness and said “there are a number of members who can’t be trusted,” as a reference to those who had pledged to elect Murtha but changed their vote. Apparently he didn’t receive the reconciliation memo, because he went on to say those who voted against Murtha “will be damaged by this,” reports the Washington Post.
Hrm. A premium on personal loyalty. A join us or perish philosophy. Obvious overtures of deception, backstabbing and division whose only pronounced solution is punishing “them”. Okay, sure it sounds like an episode of the Sopranos. But it also reminds me of the Republican party for the last six years, except the Republican party folded into this philosophy. They bought into the bullying, and the reward was six years of strong-arming their policies into effect.
And look what it got us:
War. Torture. An astronomical amount of financial debt. Warrantless spying. Prison with no trial. No accountability. No responsibility. No planning. No oversight. Ruthless neglect. And the conversion of the US Government into an even greater bureaucracy. This is the closest our government has ever come to the term “Orwellian.”
And this is from the party that wants to reduce government and spend less money. Imagine what a party like the Democrats would do if they had free reign and could bully everyone they wanted to for a change.
It’d be a disaster. And we’d have a one party system. Again.
But instead, there is open disagreement on both fronts. Hell, there’s more than two fronts. You could probably divide each Party into three factions. That’s six little groups of disagreeing bastards. The black and white is turning into shades of gray. And this, folks – this is how third parties get invented. When enough people, perhaps like Leiberman or McCain – set themselves apart and push away from both tables. And whether that third party forms a party, or just forms a coalition of issues, that’s historically when things get done. Things don’t happen in one party, because, when one group dominates, all they have to do is stay in power. They don’t have to actually accomplish anything. But when no one can dominate, then everyone has to perform.
Traditionally, third parties dissolve quickly in American history. But their causes, their issues, and their people carry on and alter the course of government. We’ve seen what six years of a single party government can accomplish. I hope the Democrats take the gloves off and start killing each other. And the Republicans should too – they got nothing to lose. Then, maybe, we’ll actually get a government of people that have to work for a living.