Both of the major political parties, today, are comprised of coalitions of groups who generally agree with one another, but have agendas they consider the most important. The Republicans have a somewhat odd mix of the religious right, southern democrats, southern "libertarians", northern conservatives, and, well, and so on. The Democrats are a mix of civil libertarians, minorities and those who protect them, and labor. And on the Democratic side, this isn't a terribly bad mix. Civil libertarians are interested in preventing oppression, and minorities and labor generally suffer that, and minorities want their rights protected, and labor and unions are good at the whole protecting rights thing, so it all kind of works out.
Until it doesn't. And it didn't in November. The reason is because the coalition was broken. The person who broke it? President Obama. But to a certain extent, while I wouldn't say the blame also rests with those members of the coalition with enough power to make a difference, to force Obama to keep the coalition together, there's certainly work they could have done, that it would have been in their best interest to do.
That element was labor, the only one of the three that has any real power. And they didn't see it coming.
Here's the problem. Each group within the coalition has its own agenda, not in any conspiratol or evil way, merely in terms of the things that are important to them, that anyone else largely agrees with but doesn't see as the most important thing in the world. Unions, for example, want to make sure they're able to keep wages and working conditions reasonable, so they see things like, say, collective bargaining as important. How important? Well, let's pretend for a moment that Obama announced he was going to organize a complete removal of the right to collectively bargain: Unions would be very upset, and would withdraw from the coalition.
Likewise, if Obama organized constitutional changes to allow southern states to reintroduce apartheid, and force women to give up full time employment, well, it doesn't really matter that those concerned about minorities kind of like union representation and the right not to be tortured, they'd leave the coalition.
And civil libertarians - well, if Obama announced he was going to imprison people without trial, continue to wage pointless, arguably illegal, wars, persecute whistleblowers, send death squads out to kill people who can't easily be held for trial, and generally throw civil rights out of the window, well, it doesn't matter that the civil libertarians like unions and want to protect the rights of minorities, they'd be out of the coalition, because they wouldn't be able to stomach voting to give power to such a person.
Which, funnily enough, is what happened in November.
So with liberals staying at home, the Republicans swarmed into power, which leads to... well, in Wisconsin they've getting rid of collective bargaining rights.
No doubt Democrats will blame liberals for this, but they forget one thing: a large number of liberals can no longer stomach being a part of the coalition, and it's because of the actions of that coalition.
What about the future? Republicans seem to be overreaching at the moment, and that may well damage them in the very short term, but unless the remaining Democrat coalition members are willing to eject the extremist anti-civil libertarians from power, the Democrats will simply never be that coalition again. Civil libertarians aren't going to joing the Republicans, they're just going to join that 50% of the American population who see the parties as too far away from their views to be worth even considering voting for.
The key to understanding how to fix it is to recognize that civil libertarians would never have tolerated apartheid and the stripping away of labor rights. If the remaining members of the coalition want to get liberals back on board, people they generally agree with, they need to undo this. As long as they don't, they will not have the power to solve the issues dearest to them.
- United we fall