Tuesday, August 06, 2013

Does Republican Mean Anything Predictable These Days?

"There is no longer any credible scientific debate about the basic facts: our world continues to warm, with the last decade the hottest in modern records, and the deep ocean warming faster than the earth’s atmosphere. Sea level is rising. Arctic Sea ice is melting years faster than projected.
The costs of inaction are undeniable. The lines of scientific evidence grow only stronger and more numerous. And the window of time remaining to act is growing smaller: delay could mean that warming becomes 'locked in.'"
It's almost as if a mob has taken over the Republican Party and claimed it for their own.  Are the authors of this NY Times opinion piece really Republicans?  All four  - William D. Ruckelshaus, Lee M. thomas, William K. Reilly, and Christine Todd Whitman - were heads of the  Environmental Protection Agency.  Appointed by Republican presidents.  Not even that long ago. 

Is this what Big Tent Republican Party means today?  They have climate change deniers and climate change true believers?    Could any of these four make it through a Republican primary today?  Are there others,  closet climate change believers, in the Republican Party who are afraid to admit it?   Can they take their party back? 

Okay.  I understand that Parties have positions on different things from economics to science, religion, and social behavior.  And people join the party that most closely aligns to their most important issues.  After all, there are gay Republicans and Hispanics and Blacks.  And Democrats who don't believe in torture.   

The Democrats and the Republicans have been the two major parties my whole lifetime.    But the division between the Republican and Democratic Parties isn't an inevitable natural state. Like the earth revolving around the sun.  (And in much longer time horizons, that's not inevitable either.)

Wikipedia lists five different party systems in American history.
(Which I've abbreviated)

First Party System: 1792-1824

The First Party System of the United States featured the Federalist Party and the Democratic-Republican Party (Anti-Federalist).

Second Party System: 1828-1854

In 1829, the Second Party System saw a split of the Democratic-Republican Party into the Jacksonian Democrats, who grew into the modern Democratic Party, led by Andrew Jackson, and the Whig Party, led by Henry Clay. . .
The 1850s saw the collapse of the Whig party, largely as a result of deaths in its leadership and a major intra-party split over slavery as a result of the Compromise of 1850. In addition, the fading of old economic issues removed many of the unifying forces holding the party together.

Third Party System: 1854-1890s

The Third Party System stretched from 1854 to the mid-1890s, and was characterized by the emergence of the anti-slavery Republican Party, which adopted many of the economic policies of the Whigs, such as national banks, railroads, high tariffs, homesteads and aid to land grant colleges. Civil war and Reconstruction issues polarized the parties until the Compromise of 1877, which ended the latter.

Fourth Party System: 1896-1932

The Fourth Party System, 1896 to 1932, retained the same primary parties as the Third Party System, but saw major shifts in the central issues of debate. This period also corresponded to the Progressive Era, and was dominated by the Republican Party. It began after the Republicans blamed the Democrats for the Panic of 1893, which later resulted in William McKinley's victory over William Jennings Bryan in the 1896 presidential election.

Fifth Party System: 1933-present

The Fifth Party System emerged with the New Deal Coalition beginning in 1933.[50] The Republicans began losing support after the Great Depression, giving rise to Democratic President Franklin D. Roosevelt and the activist New Deal

The Wikipedia piece says experts debate whether a sixth party system came in during the 1960's, which is what I was thinking.  We still have the Republicans and Democrats, but the Republicans exploited the race issues in the South and most of those Southern Democrats turned Republican and the Blacks, who'd hadn't already shifted Democratic with the Roosevelts, mostly abandoned the Republican Party altogether.  

OK, it's Wikipedia.  I put it in there to say that our political party systems have changed in the past.  The current configuration is already the longest in our history.  It's due for a shake up.  Ninety-seven percent of people alive today weren't alive in 1933.   Of those 1.7% who are over 85 most probably weren't politically aware of such things in 1933.  We may be witnessing the shake-out of the Republican Party right before our eyes. 

How many Republicans will move to the Democratic Party?  How many will move to the Libertarians, or will they combine with (take over?) the Republicans?  Will a Christian Party emerge?  I suspect all of these will happen until they realize that unless they unite they won't have a serious national impact.  Will it lead to civil war as some Nationalist websites predict?  (No, I'm not linking, you need to find those yourselves.)  Or will a new more moderate Republican Party form that can attract Democrats who fled the increasingly shrill Republican extremists? 

We're going to hear a lot more nastier stuff before things settle down.  It would be interesting to study the periods of change in those five systems Wikipedia lists. Maybe that will give us a hint. 

You can read the whole  NYTimes opinion piece here.

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