April 29, 2009

It would be like us still having the Whig Party...

I'm pretty sure this historical analogy by Michael Barone, Specter's party switch is all about winning, does not really work...

...When Churchill left the Liberals, they had led governments for 16 of the preceding 18 years. They never did so again. A party in decline should adapt its basic philosophy to new policies and positions in order to win over voters, rather than stand on principle and expel heretics.

Arlen Specter will never rise to Churchillian heights and will probably be, as Churchill was after 1924, as uncomfortable in his new party as in the old. But he also seems likely to have, as Churchill did, the last laugh....

Parliamentary democracies tend to have many small parties, and in fact the Liberals were sliding back then into being a permanently small also-ran party. Our system makes having two parties almost obligatory.

Why? Imagine a third party that got 20% of the vote in each and evey district in the country. How many people would it send to congress and to state-houses? Quite possibly none! That gets discouraging in a hurry.

Posted by John Weidner at April 29, 2009 10:19 AM
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