Monday, January 13, 2020

Lee Drutman

Lee Drutman is the author of Breaking the Two-Party Doom Loop: The Case for Multiparty Democracy in America.

From his Q&A with Isaac Chotiner for The New Yorker:

You write, “The problem is not just Republicans (or Democrats). The problem is the toxic politics of the two-party system.” Is that correct? I realize saying one party is to blame by definition seems partisan and leads to increased partisanship, but what if it’s basically true?

I definitely struggled with this point and I’m sympathetic to arguments that suggest that the Republican Party is more of a problem than the Democratic Party, because the Republican Party has certainly pushed the limits of constitutional hardball much more aggressively, made it harder for a lot of people to vote. and has pushed gerrymandering much more aggressively. Perhaps Republicans would see it differently. But, for me, the bigger issue here is where that thinking pushes us. So say you’re a partisan Democrat and you say, “Well, if the Democrats could just win enough elections and get total control, everything would be O.K.” Well, one, is that really going to happen anytime in the near future? I think we overstate demography as destiny and underrate the ways in which our political institutions overrepresent the rural party. So I don’t think that’s a feasible plan going forward, even if it’s a reasonable premise.

The second thing, which worries me even more, is that if the plan is for the Democrats to just try to wipe out the Republicans, that means that whatever moderates are still in the Republican Party would have left it. And then the Republican Party just becomes even more the concentration of rural, left-behind, gun-owning, “America is for whites and Christians”—and these are the folks who are girding up for a civil war if they feel that they’re not going to have a voice. These are the folks who thought that if Hillary Clinton became President, she was going to prevent their ability to be practicing Christians in this country. I think we know from history that when a losing side feels like it’s going to be a permanent minority, and it has no legitimate path back to power, it turns aggressive and violent. And I don’t like that future either, so...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue