The machinery of major American political parties is held together by wing nuts.
Among insults insinuated via Internet interactions, branding someone a “wing nut” has become overly common. The term, derisive in use, seeks to describe someone on the outer end of a political screw (which is an apropos description of two party politics). Yet those very wing nuts, the terminal restraining attachment of political machines, are often the nuts that bind otherwise fractious parties, if by no other means than quiet self-loathing.
Mention Dixicrats to Obama supporters and watch their neck veins explode in indignant recognition of their own party’s inglorious past.
All parties have factions, with the possible exception of the Libertarian Party, which is composed of such ideological purest that splintering children are strangled at birth. Shifting sands of sentiments and spite between factions causes problems and continual infighting. Keeping party machinery moving forward to wrest power from opponents and the Constitution requires aligning factions and keeping them motivated. Finding common ground only works after primaries, where commonality comes chiefly in beating the other party. Factions and even core ideology are expendable in the sacred goal of first winning, then doing what they didn’t promise. The more factions a fractured party possesses, the less likely unity becomes.
Herding ants is easy by comparison.
The GOP has a handful of primary factions. Long suffering Goldwater-era Republicans – who are nearly libertarian in their hands-off notion of government – were Lincoln’s legacy yet have fallen into minority status. For a while the GOP’s social conservative faction was dominate, ready to wield government to keep Bob from wedding Bill, end everything that resembled fetal assault, and arrange for Jesus to teach high school biology. The Bush era was manhandled by the neo-conservative wing who, despite their oxymoronic name, believed in government meddling as much as your average Democrat. The GOP has other minor factions, but none worth remembering.
With two of the three factions being constitutionally repugnant, the former Republican “small government” brand is a mere memory which Mitt won’t resuscitate.
Democrats also have factions, though they appear to be fifty shade of pitch. At one extreme are lingering remnants of their openly communist faction, advocating government control of everything. Dems also have their populist branch who only want to control the wealthy, corporations or anyone with anything resembling independent power not in their pockets (oddly they see union power as a check on “real” power and not a source of power itself, though Dem political bosses see union members as a large set of useful idiots during elections). The largest block wears two faces, one being the Socialism is Nifty crowd and the other being the Government is Benevolent bunch.
This is Obama’s base.
One political spectator sport is to witness the ascendancy of one faction after another has trashed their party. Even ardent Republicans sneer at George Bush who successfully gutted the GOP, tarnished its brand and sullied its reputation. Dismissed as antithetic, Bush’s neocons have only received token crotch kicks from the other factions, with no single group currently dominating the party. Hence the lack of love for Romney during the primaries which eventually transformed all GOP factions into a kumbaya clique with everyone being equally unhappy with their nominee.
Obama is not similarly hampered, which makes Barack’s continuing slide in the polls even more worrisome for his campaign manager.
Democrat factions at least swim in the same general direction, like a school of fish and with the same degree of intellectual individuality. Each of Barack’s branches wants more government and are unconcerned with pesky issues like constitutional restrictions and general liberty (they like specific liberties but are openly willing to sacrifice their neighbor’s preferred freedoms). Getting Dems behind Barack is easy, though their collective waning enthusiasm might make Democrat lines at polling places much shorter this season. Indeed, the threat posed by Romney – who in past lives has been nearly Democrat in his policies – is that he doesn’t worry your average Dem as much as Obama worries every Repub.
None of which matters since independents now rule.
The media is reluctant to release their false dichotomy of two party combat. The media tells stories, and the two sided story is the easiest and best to tell. Black versus white, good versus evil, sane versus congress. The media has devolved into rhetorical professional wrestling and offers the same degree of intellectual depth (that is not entirely true since MSNBC doesn’t even aspire to professional wrestling standards and is less entertaining). Yet the largest and most persistent trend in American politics, spanning several decades, has been for people to abandon the two major parties, leaving them in minority status. Disenfranchised by both, the ranks of independents have growth to the point that no election can be called. Notoriously open minded, late in their decision making and willing to ingest opinions from all sources, Indie voters have consistently outwitted the parties, the media and a few polling firms. Even in tightly contested battleground states, even those with a small percentage of registered Indie voters, they will decide presidential elections. (graph hijacked from the Huffing Post)
Common is the failure of both predominant parties to have a core belief system and to stick with it. Disgusted, people have fled Mitt and Barack’s bastions, choosing to roam freely the political woodlands. Meanwhile factions continue to eat away from within and eviscerate the faith their faithful once had.