Monday, February 21, 2011

Os Democratas, os Republicanos e o Tea Party

David Friedman, a 26/11/2010:

Watching the election returns this week, it occurred to me that they were producing a potentially interesting situation—a three party House of Representatives. On paper, the Republicans have a majority. But that majority depends on the support of a substantial number of representatives who got nominated despite opposition from the Republican establishment, mostly with Tea Party support. They, like everybody else who reads the poll results, are aware that, unpopular as the Democratic party is with voters at the moment, the Republican party is only a little less unpopular. (...)

Considered as a three party game, and ignoring divisions with the Democratic party, the logic is simple. Obama and the Democrats cannot pass legislation. Neither can the Republicans. Neither can the (hypothetical) Tea Party caucus. Neither can the Republicans allied with the Tea Party. But an alliance of Obama with either of the other two provides majorities in both houses; that plus the President's signature is, short of a successful filibuster, sufficient. And it is not entirely clear that the Republicans, absent the support of Tea Party senators, could mount a filibuster.

It is tempting, but boring, to assume that since the Tea Party is in some sense on the opposite side from the Democrats, no alliances are possible. Reason to reject that assumption is provided by recent British political history. The Liberal Democrats, by most views, were positioned to the left of a Labor party that had become increasingly centrist in the years since Maggie Thatcher's successful Tory rule. But when an election produced a majority for neither of the major parties, it was the Conservatives, not Labor, that they ended up in coalition with. So far, that coalition seems to working.

I admit, however, that I have had a hard time thinking up plausible issues on which the Tea Party and the Democrats might align against the Republicans. It would be easier if the Tea party were more consistently libertarian—one could imagine, for instance, an alliance to pass a federal medical marijuana law, supposing that it occurs to Obama that scaling back the War on Drugs is at this point a more popular policy than strengthening it. 
David Friedman, a 17/02/2011:
In a post I made after the most recent election, I suggested that the rise of the Tea Party had created a de facto three party game in Washington: A coalition of Obama with either the traditional Republicans or the Tea Party was sufficient to pass legislation. At first glance, the latter coalition seemed unlikely, but not impossible, although I couldn't think of any specific issues on which it could come together.

We now have one:
President Obama scored a victory today in the House when Tea Party Republicans helped scrap funding for a jet engine the White House and Defense Secretary Robert Gates have been trying to kill for years. (USA Today, Feb 16, 2011)
Eu acrescentaria que a votação sobre o Patriot Act (que, confesso, não percebi se foi prolongado ou não) também andou perto de uma confluência entre os Democratas (ou parte deles) e o Tea Party.

No comments: