Thursday, July 21, 2011

New Political Movements: Divisions Within The Democratic And Republican Parties

We normally think of Ebert as a movie critic, but he occasionally writes pieces on the real world and has a humdinger up on his blog for the Sun-Times in which he surmises that the Republican party, fragmenting and non-relevant, is doomed to the pages of history alongside the Whigs and the Prohibition Party.

"What I read,and hear is that the Republican Party is abandoning its hopes of speaking for a majority of Americans. It will still win elections. It controls the House. Perhaps it will elect the next President. But steadily and fatally it is moving out of history."

Why are the Republicans doomed?  Ebert suggests that their rhetoric and policies have fallen drastically out of step with mainstream America and just about every issue on the board.  He identifies 10 different key "trigger issues" that are dividing the Republican voter base, sounding a death knell for the GOP.

I took most interest in two issues, financial reform and of course, gay rights.

"Financial Reform. It is obvious to anyone who cares that the housing crisis and market collapse were brought about by greedy and dishonest actions by the big banks, Wall Street trading firms, and their unholy co-defendants Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac. Yet attempts to regulate these industries are staunchly opposed by Republicans (and some Democrats). Now that there's clear evidence that firms recommended their clients buy mortgage-based securities that they themselves had devised to fail, why haven't we seen a parade of criminal cases?

"Gay Rights. The enormous shift in public opinion on these issues is not reflected by many leading Republicans, who must heed the beliefs of the religious right. Consider that Michele Bachmann, said to be leading in some primary polls, subscribes to the belief of her husband that homosexuality is a treatable condition. Despite the dogma of the Tea Party that the government must not invade our private lives, they have no hesitation in dictating what we may do between the sheets. A great many conservatives and Republicans must be homosexual. Many GOP candidates do not speak for them."

All in all, I found it to be a very smart and comprehensive piece of prose.  I, like Gaius Publius of AMERICAblog, think that there are divisions on the left as well.  There are hard-line Democrats (think staunch Obama supporters) and then there are Progressives.  Progressives, like myself, are firm on liberal issues and not afraid to criticize Democratic leadership for failures to cleave to those ideals. 

Are we, then, the liberal answer to the Tea Party?  It's clear that these divisions are not as deep or as noticeable as on the left.  After all, the left does not subscribe to religious or dogmatic extremism, and strives for inclusion, not exclusion.  However, within every political party there must be a movement to remind leadership "Hey!  You've strayed from our message."  

I believe the Tea Party started as that movement for the GOP.  Since then it has devolved into the worst sort of rabid invective and demagoguery, and I can't help but agree: this is a sign of times to come, when we will no longer have this two-party circus that has lost sight of the ideals that birthed their movements.  

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