A Wake for the Two Parties

Bill Neinast


Funeral wakes may be coming back.  One may be going on now.

Youngsters under 60 may not be familiar with wakes.  This is where mourners keep watch or vigil over their dead until they are buried.


In rural areas before embalming was practiced, people would "wake the body.” The custom was to sit with the deceased for two nights to make sure the person in question was truly deceased.

I remember my parents getting up in the middle of the night several times during WWII to go to the funeral home for their turn at “sitting” with the corpse of a friend.

Under that historical perspective, there may be a prolonged wake in process at the moment.  The corpse being watched is that of the two party system.  The vigil will have to continue until at least the second week of November.

Both political parties were in poor health for a long time.  Each would have brief periods of feeling healthy when they would act with energy and take control of the federal government.

On January 22, 1972, however, the Republican Party was diagnosed with a terminal illness.  The diagnosis was not from a doctor, but from a court.  That is the day the Supreme Court issued its Roe v. Wade ruling that legalized abortion.


This decision stimulated the long dormant virus of social conservatism in the Republican body.  That virus has steadily eaten away at the party’s vital organs of limited government, local control, national security, and balanced budgets.

Now every Republican candidate for public office must swear that his first priorities are to abolish abortion, same sex marriage, trans-gender recognition, and to be actively engaged in some religion other than Islam.  After that, he or she might talk a bit about  those old principles of local control, balanced budgets, and such.

Meanwhile, a similar slow death was occurring in the Democrat Party.  There, the virus of class warfare began to grow at a rapid rate.   It has become so virulent that  now every Democrat candidate must scramble to prove that he or she is the best for spreading socialism throughout the land.  There have to be promises of single payer medical systems, government provided college educations for everyone, and redistributing wealth with punishing tax rates on the productive citizens.

The bodies or remains for which the current wakes are being held can be viewed in every household with a TV set.  The lapses between political ads is very short on just about every TV program throughout  the day and evening.

The gist of most of those ads is that the candidate in question is much stronger on the issues of interest to the party “base” than his or her opponents. A discussion of national security, the debt, and the economy are rare but welcome diversions.

So here’s the perspective.

This wake may prove the validity of its original purpose of insuring that the corpse is really dead.  Instead of dying, the two party system may just be morphing into another system.

The Republican Party may survive in a much smaller form with just its hard-core right wing intact and the Democrat Party may limp along with its hard-core left wing.

Simultaneously, the so-called moderate right and left wingers might recognize that they have more in common with each other than with their far-out wings and form a third party.


Smaller radical Republican and Democrat parties working with a moderate third party just might get the government back to working smoothly again with sensible compromises. 


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