Commentary: U.S. needs two strong political parties

The Columbus (Ga.) Ledger-EnquirerNovember 22, 2012 

I was listening to the Michael Baisden radio show during what he called “Tell The Truth, Tuesday.” His premise was about relationships where men openly tell women they are married and just want a little somethin’, somethin’, on the side, but the woman hears, “He’s in love with me and will leave his wife and kids.”

Men hear, when a woman says she’s not ready to get serious and wants to continue to see other people, that it’s just a matter of time before she comes around.

Baisden said when people reveal who they really are -- believe them. Take them at their word, and if you’re not willing to put up with the truth, cut your losses and start fishing in another pond.

I instantly reflected on what the Republican Party has been telling folk since the 1960s. Its Southern Strategy, employed after Sen. Barry Goldwater lost the presidency to Lyndon Johnson’s 486 Electoral College votes to his 52, was to pit angry white men and women against those nasty Democrats who pushed civil rights legislation.

The GOP learned in 1964 that if they capitalized on the Southern disconnect between black and white that the dissonance could take them to victory -- and it worked.

In 1968, Richard Nixon didn’t need the states of the former confederacy to win. The five Southern states that went Republican for the first time since Reconstruction in 1964 went to George Wallace with the addition of Arkansas.

In 1972, there were only a couple of blue states that went for George McGovern. Nixon won re-election with 520 Electoral College votes to McGovern’s 17.

In 1976, the Southern states flipped back to the Democratic Party to support its native son, Jimmy Carter, but that didn’t last long. In 1980, the only Southern state that stayed with Carter was Georgia. Ronald Reagan won 489 electoral votes to Carter’s 49. Almost the same deal in 1984 when Walter Mondale could only manage to win his home state of Minnesota.

In 1988, George H.W. Bush took the South and most everything else leaving Michael Dukakis with a paltry 111 Electoral College votes. Then Bill Clinton bounces on the scene. He wins Georgia, Arkansas, Louisiana and Tennessee in 1992, and with the help of Ross Perot, squeaked out a victory over Bush 41 because Perot siphoned off 19 million votes.

In his re-election bid in 1996, Clinton loses all but Louisiana, Arkansas and Tennessee, and if you say Florida is in the South, Clinton won that state, too, but the majority of the South went to Bob Dole.

Do you see a pattern here? In 2000, 2004, 2008 and 2012, the entire South, with the exception of North Carolina in 2008 and Florida in 2008 and 2012 went Republican.

I said all that to say, the GOP has to extend its reach beyond its Southern and Midwest strongholds. That’s not where most people live. While I don’t like Democrats or Republicans, Democrats do fewer things to turn me away. For the most part they talk a better game than Republicans who can be in-your-face nasty.

Clinton was referred to as the first black president, but what did he really do specifically for the African-American community? What has President Obama done specifically for the African-American community? It really doesn’t matter when the other major party is calling for Hispanics to self deport and labeling people of color as part of the 47 percent they consider moochers.

People aren’t blind. The real moochers work and play on Wall Street, and when Obama was chided by the opposition as waging class warfare, that’s exactly what Republicans have been doing since ’60s. As in Baisden’s example, if Republicans say they are anti-Hispanic, anti-47 percent, anti-science (global warming) -- believe them. But the Republican Party needs to figure it out. Our country needs two (or more) strong political parties, otherwise, left to their own devices and without opposition, an all-powerful Republican or Democratic party tends to self-destruct as hubris replaces reason.

McClatchy Washington Bureau is pleased to provide this opportunity to share information, experiences and observations about what's in the news. Some of the comments may be reprinted elsewhere in the site or in the newspaper. We encourage lively, open debate on the issues of the day, and ask that you refrain from profanity, hate speech, personal comments and remarks that are off point. Thank you for taking the time to offer your thoughts.

Commenting FAQs | Terms of Service