Mike Klein Online

The New American Parliament: It’s No Longer a Two-Party Game

Mike Klein

Paul Krugman is a Nobel Prize in Economics recipient and he is perhaps even more celebrated as a left wing thinker – some might say extremist.  His economic and political writings have been a staple inside The New York Times for a dozen years.  Krugman is widely quoted, he is often a broadcast media guest and overall, the guy really knows his economics.

However, sometimes even bright guys miss the mark and I would offer that his recent New York Times column “The Centrist Cop-Out” missed the mark.  In Krugman’s World, Republicans are evil, sinister and ghastly.  Democrats are good and Barack Obama is a centrist.  Krugman does not recognize that it is no longer about just two political parties.  That day is gone or nearly gone as we move closer to an American Parliament akin to European and Israeli models.

Krugman’s opening sentence: ““The facts of the crisis over the debt ceiling aren’t complicated.  Republicans have, in effect taken America hostage, threatening to undermine the economy and disrupt the essential business of government unless they get policy concessions they would never have been able to enact through legislation.”

Krugman’s closing sentence: “The problem with American politics right now is Republican extremism, and if you’re not willing to say that, you’re helping make that problem worse.”

Between his open and close, Krugman names others who like himself believe President Barack Obama is a moderate conservative and he disabuses the notion of a centrist uprising.  Krugman writes, “As I see it, it’s coming from people who recognize the dysfunctional nature of modern American politics, but refuse, for whatever reason to acknowledge the one-sided role of Republican extremists in making our system dysfunctional.”

Paul Krugman, New York Times Columnist

Krugman misses the much larger point.  The two-party American political system is moving toward extinction.  We already have at least three political parties and others could emerge as new groups recognize opportunities and rise to challenge customary power elitists.

For starters, we still have traditional Democrats and Republicans.  The Tea Party sometimes acts like traditional Republicans and sometimes does not.  Plus you have to consider that what Republicans already experienced could easily happen to Democrats.

A Democratic style Tea Party could challenge traditionalists and assert its power or split from the party.  This splinter group could rise because of dissatisfaction with the President or with the new debt relief committee that must identify at least $1.2 trillion in spending cuts.  That will require butchering sacred cows and Democrats will have their hands on the cleaver.

Republicans and Democrats – for the better part of a full century – have stuck to their historical scripts and comfortably played the same game over and over.  Occasionally there was a political hiccup like Ross Perot but by in large, the players were the players and the rules were the rules.  Often times it has been hard to distinguish any differences between them on many national issues.

What we’re witnessing now is being played out on one stage, the debt ceiling deal stage, but you can certainly see how it might expand.  Nobody in the voter world or equally important in the media world is used to more than two political parties or has any background in how to interpret what is happening.

Nearly everyone wants to stick to old rules which would mean not having to acknowledge that what we are witnessing is the beginning of the American Parliament – a multi-headed political entity in which coalitions will vie for power, majorities will disappear and pluralities will dominate.

You have to at least consider the possibility.

(Mike Klein is Editor at the Georgia Public Policy Foundation)

August 1, 2011 - Posted by | Uncategorized | , , ,

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