Last night over dinner (leftovers from the election day feast), I was talking about a conversation I overheard/couldn't escape while I was drinking some morning coffee at a cafe around the corner. The guy--my age, maybe plus 5 years or so--was blah-blahing at a couple of old guy regulars about how the two presidential candidates were essentially the same, that what was really needed was a true multi-party system, blah blah Nadar talking points blah. He was too loud, went on too long, was way too condescending and I considered pouring my latte on him just to get him to shut up.
The silly thing is, low charisma aside, part of me agrees with him. Having a true multi-party system would be helpful in a few ways, and unhelpful in others, at least as far as actually getting things does in government goes. When it comes to their willingness to be overly close friends with generally damaging global business interests, I agree there's little essential difference between the D and R columns. But in terms of social issues--which I will use to encompass everything from health insurance to immigration to reproductive rights to marriage--they couldn't be more different.
This is what we ended up talking about over dinner. The Rebuplicans are a mess; they do still control the house, but otherwise did poorly in the election. Many of their pet issues are failing. But the Republicans have been around for about 150 years, and I don't expect them to evaporate--and in that century and a half, they morphed from the party of civil rights to the party of unregulated business to the party of fundamentalist fear-mongering rascists, funded by big business. And finally, I think those funders woke up and realized that the platform they were funding, the crap that goes along with deregulation, is not very popular. Or not popular enough to win.
This leaves a couple obvious options. One, the platform starts to shift to more moderate ideas: less adamantly anti-abortion; less hateful to immigrants, the poor and gay citizens; more willing to believe that science is occasionally correct. These platform shifts seem to take a minimum of 20 years to complete, which may not be fast enough for Big Everything. An alternative is that Big Everything starts cozying up to the Dems, finding ways of de-fanging attempts at regulations, which gives the Democrats that same couple of decades before they've entirely sold their political little souls (perhaps a little less, since they're clearly pretty well sold off already).
This morning, I saw variations of some of what I said appearing at Huffington Post and Ta-nahesi Coates, as far as the Republican party goes: it's no longer an appearance problem, it's a platform problem (I'm sure variations on the idea are everywhere, I just prefer my news sources to have a nice liberal bias). As long as women and brown folks keep voting, you can't get away with being so actively loathsome to women and brown folks. It might be that the dogs that the business interests lay down with are so insistent on remaining dogs that they really will splinter off into their own group, abandoning the GOP to become, I don't know, Poor Ignorant Whites for Ayn Rand (they were trying to be the POWER party but can't spell). Unless a zillionaire comes along to fund that--along the lines of Ross Perot--I don't see that happening in a sustainable manner, any more than I see the Green Party doing anything but making impressive speeches on occasion and reminding progressives of their better selves.
It's weird to think I might regularly vote Republican at some point down the road, if Big Everything does start pouring its money into the Democrats, and if the GOP starts shifting its platform.