Arnold Kling  

Why I Fear a One-Party State

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Bryan writes,

it's not obvious that Republicans actually offer more free-market politics than Democrats do.

Probably true, but beside the point. I am not upset with political trends because I want Republicans to win. I am upset because I foresee a one-party state. Even if neither party is particularly libertarian, gridlock and competitive checks and balances are better for libertarians. Moreover, a one-party state is corrupt and backward relative to what we are used to. Again, I just come from reading North, Wallis, and Weingast, and a major characteristic of a "natural" state is that every economic organization must necessarily be a political organization. What we are seeing now, with government threatening private business executives while rewarding lobbyists with "stimulus" (see Russ Roberts, for example), is "natural state" behavior.

I don't care whether or not Hispanics support a welfare state. The welfare state is not the issue. The one-party state is the issue. And ethnic bloc voting (which we have always had in the country, I will freely admit) is, given the current demographics, giving us a one-party state.

Ethnic bloc voting means that voters will not defect. On top of that, the huge step increase in government involvement is going to enhance the strength of the party in power, which for now is the Democrats.

As for various commenters who assure me that there is some natural tendency for a second party to be competitive, allow me introduce to you to Montgomery County, Maryland, as well as to many large American cities. In fact, it is quite easy for a one-party government to emerge when there are ethnic blocs and a large public sector relative to the private sector.

I do not think that this is a case of my being ignorant of history or wildly speculative. I saw this scenario playing out way back in September, when I tried (unsuccessfully) to convince a Republican Congressperson to vote against what we now call TARP. I said that this would be exactly what the Democrats needed--much greater government control over the financial system and big business in general. From now on, every Fortune 500 company has to align itself with the party in power.

As hard as it is for the Gary Gortons of the world to admit it, the financial system of five years ago is gone forever. Similarly, as hard as it is for many people to admit it, the political equilibrium of competitive balance is gone for the next decade.

For now, the only two elements of the political system are Progressive Corporatism and The Resistance. And the latter does not amount to much yet.

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The author at The Volokh Conspiracy in a related article titled The Case Against the Libertarian Case Against Hispanic Immigration: writes:

    Economist Bryan Caplan, my George Mason colleague, has an excellent post taking apart the most important argument offered by those libertarians who ...

    [Tracked on May 19, 2009 5:00 PM]
The author at Remaking Modern Society in a related article titled Why Not To Fear the Two-Party Charade writes:
    Arnold Kling over at EconLog worries about America turning into a one-party state. Bryan Caplan responds that it's unlikely to ever happen: I completely agree with Arnold that one-party democracy is possible. This is a central theme of my forthcoming ar [Tracked on May 19, 2009 6:36 PM]
COMMENTS (18 to date)
Luke writes:

Didn't we have a one-party system under Bush for a bit? Now the pendulum has swung in the other direction. Perhaps it will stop closer to the middle a few more years from now.

8 writes:

If you look at the states with the biggest budget deficits, fiscal crises, and looming pension crises, the same names keep popping up: California, Michigan, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Illinois, one-party states that occasionally elect an opposition party governor. Sometimes housing bubble states such as Arizona, Nevada and Florida appear on these lists, but they're almost always the minority among one-party states.

Lord writes:

Who knows, maybe you will take this opportunity to re-evaluate your beliefs. Perhaps you may stop worrying about government and learn to appreciate prosperity. Open access is more a product of it than it is a product of open access.

Tom West writes:

Arnold, I know how you feel. As a Canadian and basically a Liberal supporter, it was hard to talk to people about the fact that I was really unhappy about Canada turning into a one party state (this was a few years ago).

Nothing like telling like-minded people that you think it would be better for the country if the party you both supported actually lost the election to the party whose policies you hated...

It's also why it's absolutely important to have *two* parties who are essentially boring, middle-of-the-road parties. Quebec has only one such party, and thus they *have* to vote in the separatists every few years simply to get rid of the ossification that naturally occurs in any ruling party.

John writes:

So, as the Resistance, we have only one option: become political double agents. If we cannot defeat the single party state, we must call ourselves Democrats and work from within to breed division. Perhaps we need to construct a Trojan horse of sorts - something that they think is good for them but will end up being their demise (like Bush's policies were for the Republicans.) Is there another recourse?

Steve Sailer writes:

California, the premiere immigration state, voted for the GOP presidential candidate 9 out of 10 times from 1952 through 1988. Since then, 0 out 5.

Steve Sailer writes:

Think about how a one-party city like Chicago works. Poor people vote Democratic because they are poor and lower-middle class people vote Democratic because so many of them have civil service jobs (or somebody in their family has jobs) minding the poor people -- e.g., cops, teachers, social workers, etc.

California is heading down that path -- in 2005, Schwarzenegger tried to rein in the public employees unions (prison guards, teachers, nurses, cops, firemen) who mind the poor. And, yet, at the top of his popularity, he was rejected at the polls, in part because so many of the white Californians left in California have civil service jobs minding the poor. And with California so expensive to live in, they need high union wages.

shecky writes:

Playing Gloomy Gus is so unbecoming!

JPIrving writes:

I suggest leaving the county if possible. Australia and to a lesser extent Singapore are good options for those who want to speak English. Ride things out overseas until the U.S. breaks up, then pick the state of your choice...

RL writes:

Arnold, minority voting tendencies are not carved in stone. For many decades, until the 60s, blacks tended to vote Republican. Until the early 90s, Hispanics favored Republicans. Voting blocks can shift, if the party's politics shift. If the Republicans had nominated Colin Powell, they would have received more than 5% of the black vote.

Robert writes:

Arnold, I'm going to bookmark this post and we'll all have a nice laugh about it later, okay?

ardyan writes:

There's a simple solution to all of this: The Republican's need to get a charismatic candidate named Jose with Mexican Immigrant parents. He could promise all kinds of stuff that would sound liberal, but does he have to live up to those promises? No.

Would the Republicans (or any other party in their position) stoop to this level? You betcha!

Yancey Ward writes:

Ethnic bloc voting is what is going to keep the Republican Party a competitive concern. White voters still control the Democratic Party, but that base of white Democrat voters is shrinking election after election relative to the other two ethnic blocs in their coalition. You can be certain that once the white base loses control of the Democratic Party reins, they will start to bleed over to the Republicans. You will find that issues like gay marriage and abortion will take a back seat to tribal alliances. Only fairly homogenous societies have the luxury to make issues like that a base for political identity.

Steve Sailer writes:

"Until the early 90s, Hispanics favored Republicans."

No, they've gone for every Democratic Presidential candidate since JFK.

You may be thinking of Asians, who voted for Bush the Elder in 1992, but have voted for Democrats ever since.

Martin Regnen writes:

I don't know if one-party states are necessarily bad. Singapore is a one-party state, too.

8 writes:

There's a difference between a democratically elected one-party state and an anti-democratic one party state. The latter works because people fear its power, the former doesn't because people believe they have nothing to fear.

eccdogg writes:

I am seeing the affects of a one party state hear in North Carolina.

The Democrats have controlled the state pretty much forever. Occasionally you will get a Republican governor or a more competitive congress but not often.

The corruptions this has caused is amazing. The speaker of the house was indicted, and the last governor is now getting heat for getting kick backs and supporting his cronies. North Carolina is now giving Louisianna a run for its money as far as corruption.

Similar to the national scene the Republicans are incompetent and the Democrats are corrupt. I voted for Mike Munger (Poly Sci and Econ profesor at Duke, and sometimes contributor to EconLog) for governor, but another good ol boy (or girl in this case) Democrat with questionable ethics was swept into office on Obama's coat tails.

George writes:

For now, the only two elements of the political system are Progressive Corporatism and The Resistance. And the latter does not amount to much yet.

"If you're listening to this, you are the Resistance." --John Connor

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