Do We Need a Functional GOP?

“Could the functions of a two-party system be performed in some other manner?”

Transpartisan Note #142

by A. Lawrence Chickering and James S. Turner

From the very beginning, we have operated on the belief that a system which incorporates more than a left/right bias is needed to discover productive solutions to our societal and political issues.

We do this by suggesting the expansion of the hyper-partisan left/right continuum to a left/right, order/freedom Transpartisan Matrix and present it as a handier, more helpful, less constrained metric to help translate unfolding political events into a serviceable shorthand. We see it as a more useable and broader framework than the left/right continuum to understand the natural, social-economic and cultural forces shaping our daily political life and the unfolding national and global future.

We offer the Transpartisan Matrix as a tool to help clarify the voice of the people:

For example, this February 2nd, 2021 New York Times opinion article, Pundits are Wrong. We Don’t Need a Functional GOP, by Jennifer Rubin analyzes the future of the US Republican Party in terms we feel fit our Transpartisan Matrix approach. What do you think?

In the op-ed, Ms. Rubin begins with a very direct question:

A two-party system serves two functions. First, it provides choice to voters and discipline to each party. Second, it aids in organizing legislative bodies. But could those functions be performed in some other manner?

And suggests an interesting perspective:

[P]ining for a sane Republican Party — a “center right” party — makes sense only if one thinks such a party has a constituency and sufficient distance from the Democratic Party. Can you find a base for a party that, say, wants to spend a trillion dollars instead of $1.9 trillion on a covid-19 relief bill? Perhaps in a few states, but nationwide, it is unclear that there is a felt need for a Democratic-lite party, beyond rich donors. It is even harder to find a substantial base for a Barry Goldwater-style “small government” party. Neither side ran on such a platform in 2020.

She then turns to William Kristol, editor-at-large for The Bulwark, for a little wisdom on the nature of things:

It is no secret that modern conservatism, in large part a response to the Cold War, is ideologically spent. The Bulwark’s William Kristol got to the nub of it in a September post:

So perhaps we need to acknowledge that it has come to this: Real, existing conservatism as it exists in America in 2020 is an accomplice to, an apologist for, and an enabler of Trump’s nativist, populist, unconservative, and illiberal authoritarianism. …

[P]erhaps every political movement has a natural lifespan: Modern American conservatism was born in 1955, peaked in full flower in the 1980s, and then aged, mostly gracefully, for three decades. Until it could easily, if suddenly, be pushed aside in its dotage—forced, or induced, to surrender to its younger and stronger, if disreputable, distant relative.

Mr. Kristol returns to this idea (and an exploration of British thriller television programs) in a recent podcast that you can listen to here.

The Transpartisan Review reports on ideas, actions, and events that underscore the opportunity for ‘politics’ beyond the current hyper-partisan, deadlock threatening, hapless efforts passed off as politics by our daily media. We point out that the current Democratic/Republican – Left/Right political duopoly made up of 30% of the US constitutional political constituency controls 99% of all the country’s elected offices. The people want a voice.

We invite you to read Ms. Rubin’s article and “Find the Matrix.”

(Feature illustration by Andy Fluke CC BY-SA 4.0. Additional text and editing by Andy Fluke.)

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