Some Thoughts on America’s True Political Parties and Persuasions
This analysis is from 1992. It argues that the biggest political groupings in this country are Classical Liberals and Populists, who drive policy debates between elite supply-side politics and middle class entitlement politics. Classical Liberals would make up the majority of the urban coastal elites, whereas Populists would make up the general middle class on the interior and to a lesser extent on the coasts.
Less numerous are the Progressives, social democrats with vested interests in the old blue model. They’d be generally headquartered in the urban cores and very supportive of the welfare state; they are your archetype ‘big government’ types.
Then there would be the Greens, primarily environmentalists, feminists, and other postmodern urban dwellers who would make up a vocal minority in the coastal urban enclaves.
Ultraconservatives would be found throughout various country areas and would probably represent the socially conservative, economically libertarian groupings that wave Gadsden flags.
There might also be Libertarians, less numerous and more fundamentalist versions of Classical Liberals, scattered about.
Lastly, there might be a Multiculturalist coalition composed of ethnic lobbies with separatist tendencies. The impact of this groups would be negligible, though.
I find two striking things about this- first, I, of the Hamiltonian Nationalist-Whig persuasion, fit most comfortably into the POPULISTS, a term I never thought I’d use to describe myself in my life. I may have some Classical Liberal leanings but I’m a definite Populist, as is everyone else in the Hamiltonian tradition. Lind’s depiction of Populists is classically Hamiltonian- “Slightly right of center on social issues and foreign policy, slightly left of center on middle-class benefits, such a party could be expected to draw substantial support from Northeastern ethnics, middle-and lower-middle-class whites and Hispanics in the South and West, and perhaps socially conservative blacks. It would be heavily Catholic.” The depiction of Classical Liberals is also somewhat Hamiltonian: “The Republicans might compensate for their loss by becoming a more consistently classical-liberal party–pro-business, pro-choice–and attracting fiscally conservative social liberals…”
So in short, my Hamiltonian views- social progressive, cultural conservative, moral traditionalist, grand strategic imperialist, national capitalist, welfare moderate, and subsidiary nationalist- align in a coalition that is presently split between the moderate wings of the Democratic and Republican Parties, but nonetheless makes up the majority views in American politics. Perhaps those majority views are decadent and require rehashing for the 21st Century, but they certainly represent the views of the bipartisan majority. Interesting that what is fundamentally an ELITIST view of politics has a very POPULIST realization. There is indeed tension between the two wings, and has especially increased with class warfare since 1992. But fundamentally, the Bushes and the Clintons are right on in American politics, and just need rehashing and modernizing (and could use a populizing flair.) There is a basic harmony between the very rich and the middle class, and so long as the plutocratic rich are reigned in and the artificial divides between them and the middle class are broken down, common sense might reign in American politics.
Second, the moderate Hamiltonian majority views in American politics, of which I am roughly representative (though in unconventional style) largely have their interests accounted for and protected, but also are largely expelled from the general public policy debate. Popular debate is primarily driven by the Progressives and Greens in the Democratic Party, and the Ultraconservatives and Libertarians in the Republican Party. The Classical Liberal and Populist views are not excluded, but are quite outdated and are never as sexy as these more radical views which take control of the debate. They are more talking points than coherent policy statements. They need a revitalization and reinvigoration if they are to succeed.
So roughly, here’s a sketch of what the political landscape looks like- you have three coalitions on the Far Left, the Progressives and Greens and Multiculturalists. You have the Populists in the Left, though they are decadent. You have the Classical Liberals on the Right, though they are decadent. You have the Ultraconservatives and Libertarians on the Far Right. Basically, it’s left radicals-left decadents-right decadents-right radicals.
The center needs revitalized and unified, something which I think can be accomplished through a Hamiltonian program and a Hamiltonian pragmatist-moderate agenda in favor of the harmony of interests between rich and middle class which must be pursued through the constraining of plutocracy. The radical wings only then will be consigned to their proper place.
More on the program and agenda Hamiltonians like me must support shall follow. In the meantime, I have copied the party-related parts of Michael Lind’s analysis below.
It is anyone’s guess what the parties in a House elected by PR would be. (The Senate would continue to be elected the way it is now, and such effect as there would be on it would be indirect.) Although voters might continue to identify with the two major parties for a time, dissidents would soon learn that third-party votes were not wasted.
The largest party in the House might well be the Republicans. As it is, their party, with its homogeneous and stable group of core voters and centralized, disciplined organization, is far more like a European party than the Democratic Party is. If PR were adopted, the Republicans might lose their right wing to a new conservative party or parties, but the number of right-wing Republican voters is fairly small (as the Patrick Buchanan campaign unintentionally demonstrated, by adding only single-digit figures to large protest votes). The Republicans might compensate for their loss by becoming a more consistently classical-liberal party–pro-business, pro-choice–and attracting fiscally conservative social liberals who now identify with a Democrat like Paul Tsongas. Such a neoliberal Republican Party might hold steady at 35 to 40 percent of the House.
The Democratic Party, an incoherent coalition of smaller proto-parties, lobbies, interest groups, and machines, which are brought together only by the winner-take-all logic of our electoral system, would, however, probably disintegrate. The breakup of the Democratic Party as the result of PR would not mean that the power of today’s Democratic voters would decline. On the contrary, the kind of moderate Democrats represented by the Democratic Leadership Council, freed from the electoral necessity of appeasing ethnic and liberal lobbies, might well prosper. Together with “Reagan Democrats” wooed back from the Republican presidential coalition, moderate Democrats in Congress might form a Populist Party equivalent to Christian Democratic parties in Europe. Slightly right of center on social issues and foreign policy, slightly left of center on middle-class benefits, such a party could be expected to draw substantial support from Northeastern ethnics, middle-and lower-middle-class whites and Hispanics in the South and West, and perhaps socially conservative blacks. It would be heavily Catholic. A Populist Party might be the nearest rival to the Republicans for the status of largest party in the House.
The United States, unlike Europe, probably would not have a strong Social Democratic Party, given the low level of unionization and the lack of a mainstream socialist intellectual tradition here. There might nevertheless be something that called itself the Social Democratic Party, representing unions, farmers, public-sector employees. Heavily black and Hispanic, such a party would favor protectionism and government subsidies to industry.
A small American Green Party would almost certainly arise from the decomposition of the Democrats. Appealing to New Age environmentalists, pacifists, feminists, and gay-rights activists, such a party might have trouble winning five percent of the vote in successive elections. So might other fringe parties that are easy to imagine: the Conservatives, a far right-fundamentalist alliance; the Multicultural Coalition, a coalition of ethnic-separatist parties; and anti-tax Libertarians.
Carrying this speculative exercise one step further, we might assign percentages of House membership to these hypothetical parties. Based on European experience and American political subcultures, the pattern might be as follows: Republicans (40 percent), Populists (30 percent), Social Democrats (15 percent), Greens (5 percent), Conservatives (5 percent), Multiculturalists and Libertarians (5 percent between them).”