by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
Michael Barone examines recent political developments at home and in Great Britain and finds an interesting move away from the successful Center-Left coalitions that elected figures such as Bill Clinton and Tony Blair. Barone shares his analysis in a column posted at Human Events.
How can we explain the rejection by American Democrats and British Labourites of center-left strategies that recently proved so successful?
One explanation is that people are acting out of principle. Left-wing Democrats and Labourites love to hear candidates echo those of their beliefs that are unpopular with the wider electorate. (Right-wing Republicans love this, too.)
Another is that today these parties have not been chastened by repeated defeats. Republicans held the White House for 16 of the 20 years before Bill Clinton won; Conservatives held Number 10 Downing Street for 18 years before Blair did. Partisans were willing to accept half a loaf in those circumstances.
A third explanation applies specifically to center-left parties, including [author George] Dangerfield’s Liberals a century ago. They were bedeviled by demands from different constituencies — Irish Catholics, feminist suffragettes, militant union leaders — which their compromising tendencies could not assuage. Liberal Britain faced internal violence, Dangerfield argues persuasively, when it unexpectedly went to war in August 1914.
Parties that are uneasy coalitions of self-consciously divergent groups with varying agendas, groups that consider themselves out of line with (or oppressed by) the national majority, are prone to splinter. It’s hard to keep everyone happy and onboard.