Thursday, November 8, 2012

Enlarging the Tent

When I wrote "Low Hanging Fruit" I had the right idea, but gave it the wrong name. I should have called it "Enlarging the Tent."

What makes a two party democracy work is the proverbial big tent system. Each party, if it is serious about winning elections, must make its "tent" big enough to include a majority of the voters, at least some of the time.

At least some of the time, a majority of the voters need to find its arguments more persuasive and its candidates more attractive than those of the other party.

During the second half of the twentieth century the Republican Party did this by cobbling together three or four major groups: foreign policy/defense hawks, small government/low taxes fiscal conservatives, evangelical Christians, and perhaps whites rooting for the home team, aka racists. No one wants to admit the inclusion of this fourth group.

During that same period, the Democratic Party filled their tent with unionists, racial and lifestyle minorities, foreign policy/defense anti-hawks, public employees including teachers, those who do not attend church, and ecological liberals.  Also included, those others who felt excluded, not accepted, or victimized in one way or another.

By the end of the century Republicans came to be the party of the married and the churched, Democrats the party of the unmarried and the unchurched.

Coalition theory suggests adding to your coalition the smallest possible additional unit which will make it a majority. The reasoning behind this strategy has to do with not diluting the strength of the large elements of the coalition any more than necessary.

Demographers have been warning that the size of the Republicans' coalition isn't keeping up with that of the Democrats. The outcome of the election of 2012 may be the result of reaching the demographic tipping point, I'm sure many will so argue. The numbers of so-called "minorities" and the unwed have increased dramatically, as have the unchurched.