The Critical 'I'

Read. React. Repeat.

Sunday, June 13, 2004

What had been rumor turned out to have some basis in fact as highly-placed sources confirmed that Republican Senator John McCain rejected overtures from Democrat John Kerry's Presidential campaign to join on as the Vice-Presidential candidate.

Frankly, I had regarded this scenario about as seriously as I took the myth of a John Kerry-Bill Clinton ticket. In fact, given McCain's repeated and unequivocal avowals of loyalty to the GOP, I'd have given the Clinton option a slight edge in probability.

But this news pretty well confirms that there was, indeed, fire behind the smoke. Aside from the questions it raises over the ability of the Democrats to field a viable ticket by drawing from their own ranks (although it appears that John Edwards will get the nod sooner or later), it also makes me wonder if we're starting to see fundamental demonstrations that the two-party system in the U.S. is, in true fact, fiction. Is the common refrain of a "Republicrat" political establishment, heard so often from the political fringe (mostly the left, although some archconservatives concur) becoming reality?

I'm especially surprised that the prospects of a Kerry-McCain run seem to garner almost universal positive reaction from political pundits. Regardless of the abilities of the individual politicians to work together in the White House, doesn't the idea of, essentially, the two major parties joining forces for a Presidential run shake anyone's faith in the idea of having two distinct political sides on the national level? To me, the establishment of a Democratic-Republican (or, at some point, Republican-Democratic) Presidential administration pretty well tells me that there's no real opposition party in Washington.

Now, I realize that a lot of things would be set in motion that would turn such a bi-partisan ticket into anything but. Assuming McCain had joined up with Kerry, he pretty well would have been drummed out of the Republican Party, de facto ahead of de jure. That would be expected; the idea would be to convert McCain's impressive national consituency into Kerry votes. The result would be an eventual bolting from one party to another--which, again, considering McCain's loyalty to the GOP, made the whole thing unlikely to start with.

Still, the basic ideal here of a two-party ticket, even if it doesn't really end up that way, shouldn't be something to be celebrated. I'd feel a lot better about democracy in this country if i know that there were two distinct sides to debate all the issues. Beyond liberal and conservative, party politics should give voters recognizable options.

For what it's worth, some see the development of a formally-merged Republicrat Party as a potential boon, making way for current third parties to gain real national stature. Who knows? Perhaps this Kerry-McCain monkeying around is the earliest catalyst toward all this being realized.