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State of American History, Civics, and Politics

The Three Party House: Are We Europe?

Should the Republican Party split into MAGAs and Real Republicans? (CNN)

Decades ago, President Lyndon Baines Johnson famously declared there goes the South following the passage of the Civil Rights and the Voting Rights Act of 1965. He correctly anticipated that Confederates would abandon the Democratic Party. That process began in the 1968 presidential elections with the 46 electoral votes in five states won by George Wallace. Those votes were not enough to swing the election. However his 13.5% of the vote totaling nearly 10 million votes were more than enough to cover the roughly 500,000 and .7% vote spread between Nixon and Humphrey.

A process had begun whereby Confederates would become an increasing significant bloc within the former party of Lincoln. As we see in the gerrymandering, the voter suppression, the removal of elected state legislators, and the seizure of powers from Democratic governors and cities, the Confederates are still fighting the last civil war. Trump did not cause this development to occur but he has excellently exploited to his own advantage.

Johnson did not anticipate what would happen once the Confederates became Republicans. Just because there was no room for Confederates in the Democratic Party did not automatically mean they would be welcomed in the party of Lincoln. After all, that party included people like Nelson Rockefeller then and had a lock on elected officials in New England. It took time but people died, people switched parties, and people lost. The MAGA Party is a pale shadow of what the Republican Party once had been in the northeast.

The Tea Party added a new wrinkle to the political demographics. The call for states’ rights echoed the Confederate mantra of the last civil war being about that issue and not slavery. Years ago, even before I started writing blogs, I expected the saying of “a house divided cannot stand” to apply to the Republican Party. I anticipated that in the 2012 presidential election, the Republican Party would split into its constituent elements.

In the House, that would mean Democrats held a plurality but not a majority. The Republicans would be second and the Freedom Party third. The passage of any legislation would require the cooperation of two of the three parties, most likely the Democrats and the Republicans. I did not anticipate that the Tea Party renamed the Freedom Caucus and now MAGAs would take over the Republican Party instead.

We now stand on the brink of the triumph of the Freedom Caucus in the House. One of its members may be elected Speaker of the House by the time you read this blog [in Round Two]. The situation is a fluid one. One thing we do know is that Real Republicans have no backbone. The same people who did not stand up to Donald Trump will not stand up to Jim Jordan, the leading Congressional insurrectionist who has yet to testify and be indicted. None of the 20 who opposed him in Round One did so because of his refusal to accept the results of the 2020 presidential election save perhaps one who drew a line in the sand and said the buck stops here.


Regardless of the results in Round Two or whether an interim speaker for 30 days is agreed to with bipartisan support, the Republicans will still be in the majority if the House. There are some key voting markers in the next few weeks which will show whether or not Real Republicans have the intestinal fortitude to put their vote where their mouth is and vote with the Democrats. These votes are:

Aid to Israel
Aid to Ukraine

In addition such issues as impeaching the President, Hunter Biden, and the supposed stolen election may affect the behavior of the House. In each instance there will be an opportunity to learn if the takeover of the Republican Party in the House by MAGA is complete or not. The actual vote by the Republicans will be more important than any protestations about never supporting the Freedom Caucus and its agenda for America.

Will the Real Republicans work with Democrats to provide national leadership or will they succumb to the brow-beating by the MAGAs to become one of them? Look what happened to Nancy Mace compared to Liz Cheney. Cassidy Hutchinson is out. Mitt Romney is retired. The stable of Real Republicans out of power continues to grow. We will know in less than 45 days about the House.

The signs of division already are playing out at the state level. It’s fairly easy to tell in any statewide election or even Congressional election, which candidate is MAGA and which is Real Republican. In many states the political infrastructure has been taken over by MAGAs making more difficult for Real Republicans to run at the federal, state, or Congressional level. If the recent experience of the Senate is any guide, Real Republicans may choose to retire. Such actions will only create more opportunities for MAGAs to take control.


Lately, there has been a lot of discussion about a third party candidate for the office of President in 2024. Polls have been taken on the impact on the national level of Robert Kennedy, Jr. Both parties have expressed concern over which party will lose the most from his candidacy.

Here is where our winner-take-all policy kicks in. Right now, a candidate only needs a plurality of the vote to be declared the winner and take all the electoral votes. Suppose a majority was required. Remember Georgia in 2020 at the Senate level. Suppose that policy applied at the presidential level in all 50 states. Such a policy would make it impossible for a Jill Stein or Ralph Nader or Robert Kennedy to play a spoiler role. Obviously it is too late to implement such a policy for the 2024 elections. Plus it would have to be done at the state level. Still, it shows that we are not inevitably trapped with the present system.

Unfortunately for 2024 we are. But if there are Real Republicans with spines and enough of them, they could work with Democrats so the country would not be trapped by the Confederate/Freedom Caucus agenda. I realize that is asking a lot of Real Republicans. They have always bowed down before Donald Trump. They voted on January 6 to void the election results. They declined to impeach him. They declined to support to House Select Committee. While there are some exceptions, some of them were gone after January 20, 2021. Maybe if enough of them in the new Congress live in Congressional districts Joe Biden won or intend to retire so they cannot be primaried or who are loyal to the Constitution first, they can make a difference in the House this term.

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