Postmodernism and the Death of Political Parties

I think the two party system will be dead in twenty years and replaced by something that better reflects the worldview of today’s Americans. There are several characteristics of our culture that lead me to that conclusion:

  1. Postmoderns aren’t concerned for clear-cut and well defined groups that have to fit a particular mold. They are more into things being on a continuum without clear-cut divisions and distinctions like political parties.
  2. Postmoderns aren’t as brand loyal as previous generations. Past generations would be a democrat or republican because that is what their family always had been. People are growing out of that mentality.
  3. The Republicans vs. the Democrats almost seems like an arbitrary and dated method for doing things.
  4. Postmoderns are open to a scrapping things that don’t make sense and replacing them with things that seem to fit better here and now.

There are more things that weigh into this but I think these are the main three and it all has me thinking the two party system will be gone within a generation and something that is on a continuum of thoughts and views is put in to replace it. We will always have conservatism and liberalism but I wonder how this will show up in the political system in the next 50 years as people get less and less concerned with us vs. them and more concerned with where this country is headed in the mix of the global community. The two party system just seems to aim too small and I think it will be breathing its last in the next twenty years.

What do you think?

About mattdabbs
I am a minister, husband, and father. My wife and I live and minister in Saint Petersburg, Florida. My primary ministry responsibilities include: small groups, 20s and 30s, involvement, and adult education.

14 Responses to Postmodernism and the Death of Political Parties

  1. Matt,
    You may be right, but it will mean further splintering of congress and an inability to get anything done. The various “interest caucuses” will become horsetraders for votes to get anything passed – and we will likely be in even worse shape than now.

    Even worse would be to assign each splintered “party” a percentage of the vote in each region or from across the nation. Then the party bosses would control who the actual representatives would be, instead of the people being able to vote directly for the candidate in their district.

    Jerry

  2. I don’t think so. Multi-party systems have worked in places like the UK & Israel, but I guess I have a hard time seeing it happen here. The nature of power is to congregate together. And I have a hard time seeing the attraction to power (in terms of consolidating that power) waning.

    • Matt Dabbs says:

      Aren’t many politicians moving toward the “I” label these days? It seems people are wanting more and more to distance themselves from saying I am in lock step with this party or that party. I think all these leads to more and more independence of thought and less being strapped to a particular label with a set political value system. I could easily be wrong.

      • It’s a temporary trend. Being establishment is BAD politics right now (e.g. Bill McCollum). Reason is basically sour feelings over the economy. So pols are distancing themselves from looking/feeling establishment. I think it’s a temporary trend in the current milieu, and is disconnected from postmodernism. But I could easily be wrong, as well.

        By the way, the “I” label isn’t working too well for Crist these days. Latest polls have Rubio up big — double digits. If that move was going to work anywhere, you’d think it’d be Florida. Especially with a guy like Crist who has historically done so well in that I-4 corridor from Tampa to Orlando. And it’s just not happening for him.

        BTW, if the American political system moved more independent, I would jump for joy.

        Also, another reason I don’t think it will is because the two political parties control the entire process. Even down to gerrymandering districts in favor of the parties. Florida has one district that stretches all the way from Jacksonville to Orlando, which is just preposterous. It’s designed to marginalize a certain voting block, and to help another party win more districts while keeping that certain voting block locked up in that single district.

        There are lots of factors like that that I believe will keep us locked into two parties for a long, long time. And I don’t think it’s necessarily good for our country, either.

    • mattdabbs says:

      But what if a new generation takes charge that could care less about all that? We are seeing that attitude toward the religious/Christian establishment…why not toward the political structure as well? What do you think? Great thoughts.

  3. Anything’s possible.

    Just speaking for myself, I guess, I’m still not willing to use my vote for candidates who have no chance. Not saying I endorse any of these guys, but the Ron Paul’s… the Ralph Nader’s… the 3rd Party people that gain grass roots loyalty but appeal to only a thin sliver of the electorate. I guess I’d have to be a true believer. But I’m not. And I see my vote for one of them as a wasted vote.

    And I’m a postmodern.

    Take the ’08 FL GOP Presidential Primary. I didn’t even vote for my favorite candidate. I voted for the candidate that had the best chance to beat my least favorite candidate. Ultimately, I want my vote to count. Seems like it’d take a *RADICAL* change for that sentiment & the dissolution of political parties to come together.

  4. Frank says:

    I’m thinking like Phiip. I wouldn’t plan a funeral for the two-party system just yet. Even if it did die, some organizational structure would have to take its place. Politicians can say “I” all they want. But how many of them get anything done, right or wrong, by themselves? Principalities and powers are going to be with us til the eschaton. Between now and then, there will be an occasional costume change.

  5. nick gill says:

    There are more things that weigh into this but I think these are the main three and it all has me thinking the two party system will be gone within a generation and something that is on a continuum of thoughts and views is put in to replace it.

    How can I give any credence to your political prognostications when your mathematical skills are so embarrassingly thin?🙂

  6. That states which use single-winner plurality-elections are invariable pulled towards two-party-dominated systems is a tendency so strong, it has a name: Duverger’s law. Voter’s being miffed enough that 20% of them are “seriously considering” about voting third-party in one upcoming election isn’t going to change that, not long-term (England finds itself in an unstable three-party setup now, but that cannot last; I give it two elections, tops.)

    There will be a two-party system in America in 50 years. Those two parties may not be the Republicans and the Democrats (remember the Whigs? Or the Federalist?) but there will be two, and the competition and divisiveness will be about as bad as it is today.

    Unless:

    I said *single-winner* and *plurality-elections*. If you knock out either of those legs, things could change. (Or, conceivably, there could be more than two parties as long as they were regional, and no region had more than two; this is how India gets by (and, in some ways, Vermont). But when senate nominees from Alaska and Delaware are both primarily funded by a group in California, I don’t think regionalism is going to catch on as a solution.)

    Proportional representation would change things.

    Moving to a single-winner election method that has no spoilers (approval voting or score voting (note: not instant runoff voting; look at Australia)) would change things.

    Post-modernist thinking they are above the influence of Duverger’s law? Not going to change things.

    • Dale said what I was trying to say. Only he got to the point more precisely. (g)

      Although, Matt, here’s a feather in your cap. A new political organization launching to try to appeal to American centrists: NoLabels.org. Political strategist Mark McKinnon & others are behind this. It’s certainly something that’s right in my wheelhouse. I’d love to see this movement shatter the Tea Party Movement — a movement which sounds impressive on the stump, but seems really impractical in terms of actual policy & governance.

      Anyway, the values of that emerging group will probably take on a number of postmodern characteristics. They may be the face/identity of the trend you think is coming. (But I still disagree with… as long as the established parties control all the political processes)

      • mattdabbs says:

        That is in the ballpark. While the timeline may get extended beyond 20 years due to the powers that be, I stick by my original assertion that if you change the worldview of the culture and then those people get voted in that the result will be a change in politics. We’ll see!

      • Under plurality elections, a movement from the center is even *more* doomed to failure than one from the extremes. It doesn’t matter who “controls the political process”, it’s the inevitable outcome predicted by simple game theory.

        Your best bet–really, your only bet–is to advocate for a different electoral system, one that isn’t beholden to Duverger’s law.

        Really: look into approval voting (or, if you’re feeling really ambitious, score voting or proportional representation). It really is your only chance (outside of praying for, or starting, a war on US soil, which is the only thing that has ever successfully shook up the two-party system under plurality.)

  7. A morning talk radio program was talking about this a couple of months ago, and I called in to give my opinion. Those of my generation (I’m 25 for reference) are looking more and more to move away from the parties of the past. It’s becoming more evident everyday that the system is broken. I’m not sure whether a multi party system, or a no party system will result. But I agree with Matt, the landscape is changing.

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