Tuesday Talk*: A Three, Maybe More, Party System

Member of the House hang a party affiliation around their neck, and in the past, that was good enough to claim the majority and the spoils that go with it. But that only works with a two-party system. Otherwise, the majority of the House may require a coalition, should a minority party gain sufficient foothold to deny the majority to a single party.

Anybody notice that the Republicans, the putative majority in the House, can’t manage to elect a speaker? Maybe that’s because what we call the Republican Party is now composed of two groups, the moderate Republicans and the MAGA Republicans, and they are not in agreement. Not at all.

On the other side of the aisle, there are the Democrats, which to their credit, have managed to vote with unity for their leader, Hakeem Jeffries. Ironically, Jeffries has gotten the most votes in the last couple speaker votes, which under other circumstances might be sufficient to make him speaker, but not under House rules which require a majority vote of the members present. He’s fallen short of that because the Dems lack sufficient numbers to constitute a majority.

Then again, even if the Democrats have demonstrated greater cohesion than the Reps, they aren’t without their conflicts as well. The Squad, busy on the protest circuit at the moment to inflame hatred of Israel and bolster the “resistance” of raping, kidnapping and murdering women, children and the elderly, don’t take the same views as the rest of the Democrats on a great many issues. If they got the chance to Matt Gaetz their speaker, would they? The Magic 8-Ball says it could happen.

Assuming you’re not an anarchist, it’s critical to the functioning of our government to have a working House of Representatives. And without a Speaker, it won’t work. And if it won’t work, there can be no appropriations to fund whatever needs funding. It holds the purse strings, like it or not. Even if the Reps get themselves together enough to elect a seat filler so that bills can be voted, will the speaker be anything more than a figurehead, a place filler, for lack of an individual in whom the conference holds sufficient trust and respect to call leader?

While all the members of the House with an R after their name might still be trying to convince themselves that they are one party, they can’t fool the rest of us. The differences are clear as day. As long as the groups stick to a commitment to be themselves, they will not be able to find a speaker with staying power. They can continue to torture themselves and the country, or they can face the truth, split and take care of the divorce details necessary for ushering in a three-party system.

I say, bring on the lawyers!

Historically, our political parties have split and reinvented themselves. We have had third parties with hip names like the No Nothings or Bull Moose, and have returned to the old names even as the nature of the parties reversed over time. So what’s the big deal about another schism happening before our eyes? Is it enough that the “Freedom Caucus” folks put an R after their name while the rest of the conference is expose to having their R called Rinos? Do moderate Republicans have far more in common with moderate Democrats than with the election deniers and insurrection apologists?

At the moment, the Republican inability to elect a speaker is a window into their ideological chaos created by the election of a handful of nutjobs and a not insignificant number of representatives who will bow to Trump until they know it’s safe to feign conservatism again. Is it time to end the charade and split the Republican Party into its components, the MAGAs, the conservatives and the weaselly cowards?

Is it time to stop pretending we have a two-party system and let the coalitions build as they may?

*Tuesday Talk rules apply.

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