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February 17, 2010

Palin: Stop Being a Jackass With This Third-Party Crap

I love that she's said this, as Allah does.

Not only is it 100% right, but it gets me off the hook for the constant claims that anyone who suggests a third-party is jackass and counterproductive must be a GOP shill.

Well, actually, I am a GOP shill, but it's good to have Palin as a wingman on this point.

Her point about American politics being a two-party system is correct -- and people really need to understand this. It is structurally a two-party system. It wasn't designed intentionally to be that way, but that is the way it is designed.

There are -- there will always be -- two parties. Two. Now, it's possible one party might collapse and be replaced by a new party (I won't insult your intelligence by giving you the example of this). But there will always be two parties.

This is not Europe, with a parliamentary system. A parliamentary system permits -- and encourages -- third parties (and forth and fifth and sixth and seventh and eighth parties, too) because voting for these parties is not, in fact, counterproductive or futile. Anyone with a seat in parliament can vote for a government, and therefore can demand concessions and even a formal role in that government. So if a party only gets 5% of the vote, it can in fact leverage that 5% of the vote into 5% of the power -- and sometimes a lot more than 5%.

America is a winner-take-all country. Winner take all. As someone in the Bush Administration said when the media suggested that he didn't have a mandate because he only got 49% of the vote -- "He got 49% of the vote but 100% of the presidency."

And the government -- the President and the administration he picks -- is directly elected. Congressmen do not elect the president. A minor-party Congressman cannot parlay his one vote into some sort of leverage on the President.

Further, in most of Europe, you can vote for just a party. And what happens is: If a party gets 18% of the vote, they then get to appoint 18% of the members of parliament. (Or, you know, there's some formula that is supposed to approximate that... approximately.) In many countries, people don't vote for a specific person, but a party with a slate of politicians, and which people on that slate actually get into office depends on vote-share (and their connections within the party).

In America, we vote specifically for this person or that.

This is the way it works: You get 51% or you go home. There is no mechanism to reward a potent third-party with 33% of Congress just because it got 33% of the vote.

You know what you get for a quite-high 33% vote share? You get to give a five minute concession speech, thirty seconds of which will be broadcast on local tv stations.

I cannot stress this enough. Dreamy-eyed revolutionaries bewitched by the idea of an uncorrupted, untainted third-party Tea Party do not understand, or are so disconnected from reality they disregard, the fact that in America, 33% means you lose, you lose utterly, you lose completely, you lose absolutely, and you have no voice in American politics whatsoever, at least on a formal, holding-office level.

33% means you have the right to stage protests. Just like you had at 0%.

33% means you get to "send a message." Same as you could at 0%.

There are only two paths to actual Tea Party power:

1) It aligns with and merges with the Republican Party.

2) The Republican Party aligns with and merges with the Tea Party.

I mean, they're essentially the same thing -- I guess some people are really hung up on the name issue, and really (childishly, I think) want to call their new club "the Tea Party," and it it's not specifically called "The Tea Party," they want none of it.

But either the Tea Party coopts the Republican Party or the Republican Party coopts the Tea Party, or, most likely (as history demonstrates), they both coopt each other a bit.

EdwardR. just sent me this kinda-damaging article about Marco Rubio. We talked a bit, and then EdwardR. mentioned he didn't like Rubio's support of a high-speed train line in Florida (with federal money, natch).

I wrote back:

I understand taking a locally-popular position. It happens. It's life. You can't vote on stuff if you can't get elected. This is something I really wish more conservatives would understand. I read all this fine rhetoric and cant about principles and integrity that has nothing to do with the real world. There is little allowance made for the exigencies of the real world.

The "Tea Party" bewitches people because it's uncorrupted -- but it's
uncorrupted precisely because it hasn't actually engaged with the
corrupting political process. Yet. I can only scream that what
people don't like about their sell-out/unprincipled/lacking
integrity/RINO Republican office-holders is not a problem with
Republicans - it's a problem with HUMAN BEINGS, and the Tea Party guys
are human beings too, and the moment they're forced to choose between
electoral fortunes and principles they too will make the same
self-interested decision that most humans make.

You have to accept *some* amount of corruption/cynicism in people.
It's the human condition. Those insisting that they won't vote for
anyone so corrupted are saying basically they won't vote for a human

I think that's an important point, and I'm sorry to come down on the side that says a bit of cynicism and corruption is okay, but, as Deputy NSA Brennan said, 20% isn't so bad.

But yeah -- the thing is, the Tea Party is uncorrupted precisely because it's not -- yet -- part of the inherently corrupting process of politics.

You think Marco Rubio set out to lend his support to a guy who turned out to be corrupt himself? Of course he didn't. But that's politics -- a guy supported him, he supported the guy back, that guy turned out to be corrupt.

Anyone in politics is tainted by this sort of stuff. So it is nothing to say "The Tea Party isn't tainted like that." Well of course they're not tainted -- yet. They haven't had the opportunity to be tainted.

At the end of the day, we're all people. Tea Partiers too. And people err and people fail. To suppose that a hypothetical third-party Tea Party would contain only incorruptible stalwarts is to simply ignore 300 years of American politics (not to mention 100,000 years of human history).

I really think this is a big attraction of this third party idea -- that this party, this party that doesn't exist yet, hasn't betrayed us and hasn't failed us.

Yet, I have to interject. Because if I know human beings -- and, despite being something of a shut-in, I think I do -- I can predict with 100% confidence that these human beings too will betray and self-deal and sell-out principles if given half a chance.

Anyway, that's my ramble. Now let's hear from someone whose credentials on this point are unassailable:

Asked what her advice would be to conservatives as the November elections approach, Palin first lavished praise on the Tea Party movement, calling it “a grand movement” and adding, “I love it because it’s all about the people.”

But she quickly pivoted to the broader question of whether the Tea Party movement might successfully field its own candidates in national elections, and on that point she sounded far from convinced.

“Now the smart thing will be for independents who are such a part of this Tea Party movement to, I guess, kind of start picking a party,” Palin said. “Which party reflects how that smaller, smarter government steps to be taken? Which party will best fit you? And then because the Tea Party movement is not a party, and we have a two-party system, they’re going to have to pick a party and run one or the other: ‘R’ or ‘D’.”

And hit the link and check out the chart at bottom to see what happens when a hypothetical Tea Party runs against the Democrats and Republicans.

Guess who wins?

No the Tea Party. And not the Republicans.

And it's a blow-out, in fact.

So if that's what people really want -- unchallenged liberal Democratic rule for a generation -- hey, have fun.

I'm not interested in "sending messages" when those messages come with the other, all-caps message: BARACK OBAMA AND HIS MOST STALWART LIBERAL ALLIES WIN, IN BLOW-OUTS, FOR AN ENTIRE GENERATION.

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posted by Ace at 02:27 PM

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