reply to post by FreeMason
One of the possibilities inherent in a system of two opposing coalitions is that an element in one of the coalitions will break away, and will
finally, in the long-term, re-attach itself to the other coalition.
In the interval between the breaking away and the re-attachment, there will be the appearance of a three-party system, but this appearance will
probably just be temporary.
I can think of two classic examples in nineteenth century British politics, and one in twentieth century American politics.
1) In the aftermath of the Corn-law crisis, the leadership of the Conservatives ("the Peelites") drifted away from the rank and file of the party
and finally, in the person of Gladstone, joined up with the opposing Liberals.
2) The Victorian Liberal party was a coaltion of lberal-minded aristocrats ("the Whigs") with radical thinkers and leaders. When Gladstone tried to
bring in Home Rule in Ireland, the Whigs and the rather radical Joseph Chamberlain broke away from him. For a period of time they were a third party,
as the Liberal Unionists, but in the long-term they joined up with the Conservatives.
This temporary third party are the people who are being mocked in "The Importance of being Earnest", in the dialogue where Jack Worthing says "I
really have no politics- I call myself a Liberal Unionist" and Lady Bracknell replies grandly "They count as Tories [Conservatives]- they dine with
us". When the film version was released, the Liberal Unionists had already got absorbed, so Jack called himself a Liberal instead. Therefore the
jokes at their expense do not quite work, or work in a different way.
3) When I was growing up, it was axiomatic that the South in America was Democrat. This was one of the givens of the mysteries of American politics,
because ever since the Civil War the Democrat party had been a coalition of Southern conservatives and Northern radicals.
Yet now, ever since Reagan's time, it has been axiomatic, apparently, that the South is Republican, Southern and Northern conservatives in
I may be treading on dangerous ground, as an outsider, but I presume this has been the long-term effect of what Governor Wallace did in 1968, when he
ran for President independently instead of supporting the Democrat candidate.
In other words, it seems to me that Governor Wallace was the Joseph Chamberlain of American politics. Even if he did not transfer to the Republicans
in person, his Southern followers seem to have done.
If there was to be a split between the Tea Party and old-style Republicanism, then the end-result would probably have to be that the old-style
Republicans formed a working partnership with the Democrats. That is, their fate would be similar to the fate of the Peelites.
The idea of abolishing parties, which other members have put forward, is a non-starter because there is no possible way of enforcing it. if you ban
official party links, they will just go underground. The people who are now linked openly would then be linked secretly instead, and hours of
investigation and conspiracy theory would be required to establish links which are currently public knowledge ("Breaking News: Obama and Clinton have
been contacting each other and having meetings- does this mean they are on the same side and working together?").