Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Our "coalition" government

In explaining to our children the new "coalition government" formed in the United Kingdom by the Conservative Party with the Liberal Democrats I found myself realizing that the Democratic Party in leadership has long been a coalition government. What else would urge late liberal Senator Paul Wellstone (D-MN) to say he was from "the Democratic wing of the Democratic party"?

In a parliamentary system like they have in most European Democracies, it's pretty obvious where the fault lines are drawn and what the concessions one party is making with another to merge (one concession the Conservative party will be making to the liberal democrats is political reform to allow their seats to better match their percentage of votes).

In this country, while everyone on the inside knows where the divisions lie, it's more nebulous. Our Democratic party contains a grown plurality of liberals, with a significant number of centrist to conservative Democrats (this is true particularly in those Congressional seats that were recently Republican controlled).

In this country, interest groups like the Sierra Club, AFL-CIO and NRA function more like the smaller parties that can spring up in a parliamentary system. Food for thought.

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