Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Maybe the Democratic Party ought to split in two....

This is one of my more crackheaded ideas I think, but there's a certain seductive logic to it....

With the Republican Party so discredited in the electorate, and with the reins of power within the Republican Party so tightly held by the far right, is it possible, as I've seen suggested, that the Republican Party is actually dying? Will this be the final election in which they compete as a serious contender?

If the Republican Party is dying, the Democratic Party would be poised to become the only major political party in existence. I instinctively distrust one party rule, no matter which party. I assume that most voters in democratic societies feel much the same way, and would look for a way to redress the balance. A new political party would eventually spring up - perhaps forming when, say, a large and dissatisfied bloc within the existing single party tears away and strikes out on their own.

Which brings me to the rift in the Democratic Party between supporters of Obama and supporters of Clinton. And the crackheaded idea that, if all the above is going to happen eventually, why wait? Divide the party between the two candidates now, circumventing the problem of trying to get the two sides to line up behind one candidate, and get on with it.

The problem of course is that the Republican party is not completely discredited in the eyes of the vast majority of the American voting public. Not yet, anyway. And fielding both Obama and Clinton under separate party banners could, in the winner takes all system of the US Presidential election, very easily hand the presidency to McCain by default.

And yet....I have yet to see a poll which offers people a choice between three preferred candidates rather than two. I wonder if such a poll would paint a slightly different picture to the two-person preferred question that every pollster has been asking. Plus with optional voting, turnout matters, and in the 2008 primaries the Democrats have been absolutely killing the Republicans in turnout, even long before McCain finally clinched the nomination. More democrats are motivated to take part in this election. A lot more.

Interestingly, the rivalry between Clinton and Obama is also at least partially responsible for the massive increase in turnout for the Democrats. If both continued to run under separate party banners, would that still result in increased turnout for both at the presidential election? Enough for both of them to gain more votes than McCain? Could a continuing focus on Obama vs Clinton conceivably turn the resulting lack of media focus on John McCain into a positive for Obama and Clinton, as "lack of investigation of McCain" turns into "McCain's campaign founders due to lack of media interest"?

Like I said, crackheaded, and the actual effect of such an official split would most likely be to end up handing the presidency to John McCain by default (which would at least be slightly amusing given that he only really won the Republican nomination by default when all the other candidates proved too sucky). But still...

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