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Friday, April 18, 2008

Despite everything, we must admit Nader was mostly right: Duopoly in American politics at the New Left Review.

Hough’s account draws on intensive archival work to detail the processes by which the two parties contrived to limit electoral participation, gerrymander constituencies and divide up the electoral spoils within the ferociously competitive landscape of modern industrial America -— greatly aided, although he does not spell this out, by the first-past-the-post system. At stake, for both parties, has been the problem of mobilizing maximum electoral support for policies that are not primarily conceived in the interests of the median voter. According to Hough:
both parties have structured their economic policy so as to try to maximize support in the upper class of the population—the 25 per cent of the population that makes above $75,000 a year in family income. Without any meaningful choice on economic questions, voters have been forced to choose between the parties on cultural issues alone.
In his view, the recent withdrawal of the two parties behind the winner-takes-all ramparts of the red-state/blue-state division, leaving only a dozen states genuinely competitive, represents a further diminution of the real electorate, narrowing the already circumscribed space available for meaningful political participation.