Bruce Webster is making some: The coming liberal meltdown.
Interesting. Plausible. Maybe or maybe not likely — who knows?
What I liked about his post was the element of prognostication from current trends and social/political circumstances, and how it resembles what Carl and I have been doing for the backstory for In the Shadow of Ares and its in-work sequels (the first of whose outline I plan to finalize today, given the crappy weather here in Denver). Whether or not his predictions materialize, it’s fun to take them as a set of initial conditions for a fictional near-future history — for example, the future-history potential of the Obama-Clinton feud:
- Imagine it escalating from the low-intensity political warfare he describes into an all-out factional “civil war” as 2016 approaches.
- Blue collarists, liberal-leaning Jews and Latinos, and other center-left Democrat constituencies line up with Clinton loyalists and erstwhile PUMAs behind Hillary.
- Blacks along with Progressives, ivory towerists, callow youth, union extremists, and other hard-left Democrats follow Obama.
- Democratic women split between the two on similar lines, with Hillary not automatically winning the bulk of Democratic women due to Obama’s appeal to the more radical youth demographic.
- What happens next?
- Does the Democrat party then split into two, or see the smaller faction peel off and join an existing third party?
- If the party doesn’t split, does the internal divide render the Democrat Party nearly irrelevant for several election cycles, say through 2020, as they focus on factional infighting and sabotaging each other instead of running against Republicans?
- Does Andrew Cuomo (as Webster hints) emerge as a “neither-nor” figure who is able to glue the factions back together while (under the pressure of emerging fiscal/economic necessity) bringing the party back towards the reasonable center from where Obama, Pelosi, Reid, and the Progressives have shifted it?
- If not and the Democrats (as a single or split party) experience waning influence, what happens to Republicans, who experience show tend to drift from principles and platform quite rapidly in the absence of competition from an energized opposition?
- Under such circumstances, could the GOP itself experience a loss of factional cohesion, with a non-negligible contingent of center-left, center-right, socially-liberal, and Progressive Republicans defecting to join Hillary Clinton’s “less extreme” new party? Would this result in a major two-party reconfiguration along the lines of the Whig-Republican split in the 1850s, or would we end up with a new equilibrium state involving three stable medium-large parties in place of two very large ones? If the latter, would there be an evolution to more discrete special interest factions akin to (say) the small parties in the Israeli Knesset, with the three parties becoming more explicitly coalition-based and the new equilibrium maintained via coaxing these factions to jump parties (difficult under the current party system, but since this is all speculative anyway, why not assume changes to it)?
- If any of the outcomes above involving party splits emerge, would existing third parties (Libertarians, Greens, etc.) see greater influence? Presumably some not-insignificant portion of Democrats in the Obama/Clinton split scenario would be disgusted enough with both resulting parties to seek a third alternative. Same for libertarian Republicans in the diminished-competition scenario, with disgust with the squishiness and corruption of one-party GOP dominance motivating them to switch to the Libertarian Party. If the large parties get smaller and the small parties get larger, would the equilibrium necessarily stop at (say) three core parties? Why not four or five?
It’d be fun to tackle his other predictions in similar fashion (which I intended to do before spending too much time on the one above), but I’ve got too much to get done today.