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Just before the US Civil War, both sides of the duopoly split.  The split was an ideological one that happened to be sectional as well and so set the table for the war.  150 years later, we're still sorting it out.  And then in 1968 it nearly happened again.  The Republicans temporarily stepped back from the abyss.  Aghast by the 1964 Goldwater campaign that was little more than a front for John Birch Society hate-blather, cooler heads took control back and buried Reagan that time.  The Democrats, though, split, with George Wallace taking the Dixiecrat segregationists off, leaving the northern urban base in the party, which was not enough to beat Nixon.  By 1972 Wallace was no longer a factor, Lee Atwater's Southern Strategy had turned the Dixiecrats into Republicans, and Nixon thrashed the "wimpy pinko" McGovern.  Insert Watergate, let simmer, and we have the Bicentennial Election of 1976.  On the Republican side, Ford was the incumbent president so he got the nomination, but it was apparent that Reagan and the zombie armies of the Right were the future.  On the Democratic side, the powers went, "See, we went too far to the left, that's why we lost in '68 and '72," and dumped Kennedy for Carter.  Carter won, but neither he nor the party was ready for prime time and did not have the skills to govern effectively (rather the same position Labour would be in if Corbyn suddenly found himself at No. 10).  Results: Reagan takes it in 1980; the Republican Party starts goose-stepping down the Right Road until it now is little more than Fascism Lite; and the Democrats, now even more afraid of anything that can even remotely be considered progressive, is taken over by the DLC and transforms into a club of corporate whores whose only interest is enabling the fever dreams of every neolib and neocon.  Clinton and Gore ram through NAFTA and similar trade deals, killing blue collar jobs in the US once and for all; Gingrich sucks up scads of disaffected "deplorables" in 1994, feeds them a steady diet on anti-international/anti-immigrant rhetoric, and uses them to destroy the last traces of Republican support for any foreign policy other than military intervention; and voila, here we are.

The UK duopoly is on the verge of fracturing; neither May nor Corbyn has the tools to stop it.  If (when) it happens, it will be profoundly destabilizing (worse than the US because the UK is far more dependent on parties to make the system work); it will take years to sort out, and perhaps not in our lifetimes; and there will be a significant, dangerous shift to the right.

by rifek on Wed Mar 6th, 2019 at 06:08:13 PM EST
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