People get fed up with one party control

By Alan S. Chartock | July 8, 2022


This country is leaning more and more to the right of the political spectrum. Don’t you agree? On the one hand, we can elect a Donald Trump president and, in fact, consider doing that a second time. On the other, we embrace certain liberal thought through our contemporary Democrats. Right now, it looks like the Democrats are in firm control in New York, but don’t bet the ranch on things staying that way.

We know that there was a time when the USA was considered a liberal democracy. We boasted the likes of Hubert Humphrey and, at least for a while, Adlai Stevenson who never really caught on. The truth is, Socialists we ain’t. I have always believed that much of what this country has become derives directly from the great Civil War between the North and South. If you want to understand the difference between Republicans and Democrats, you might read up on the end of the Civil War, fought in large part over the institution of slavery in the United States. Interestingly, of course, it was the southern Democrats who defended the tradition of slavery and the Lincoln Republicans who were the anti-slavery people.

Of course, things changed down the road. While the southern Democrats remained more conservative than their northern brothers for many years, the party eventually turned around and became the liberal wing of the contemporary political party structure. When Lyndon Johnson was president, we witnessed a sea change in the party. In addition to the War on Poverty, Johnson will be remembered for signing the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Voting Rights Act of 1965, and the Civil Rights Act of 1968 while the Republican Party morphed into the conservative wing of our politics – that was quite a fall! Today, while neither contemporary party believes in slavery, a good part of this country remains, well, reactionary and it seems the Republican party would put many Americans into economic slavery of a sort.

Back in New York, the more rural upstate is now fertile ground for the Republicans. Things sure have changed from the time when there were about the same number of Republicans and Democrats in the state. Since most of the Republicans were above our state’s “Manhattan-Westchester” line, it was a sure thing that the Senate would be Republican until New York City registrations just overwhelmed the hapless upstate Republicans and they became the permanent minority party.

It is doubtful that you will ever see the Republicans controlling either house of the legislature, but this doesn’t mean that we won’t be eyeing some significant Republican wins in the future. After a while, people get tired of single party control and are willing to split off from their traditional party affiliations. Even in highly Democratic, blue New York, we saw George Pataki win three times. A classic case in point is the Cuomo phenomenon which faded because, well, people got sick of the Cuomos. That may be attributed, in part, to what we might call political arrogance. In the case of Mario’s loss, there was an accusation of “too much mouth.” When Andrew lost, it may well have been a lack of humility which caused the political crash.

So can we expect a Republican resurgence anytime in the near future? The simple answer to that simple question is a simple “yes.” That’s because, people really do get fed up with one party control. When politicians forget about the simple rules of humility, they leave themselves in peril and open to defeat. A lot of that arrogance comes from past successes and swelled heads that inevitably leave them at risk of failure. I would lay odds that we will see a Republican resurgence sooner rather than later.

Alan Chartock is professor emeritus at the State University of New York, publisher of the Legislative Gazette and president and CEO of the WAMC Northeast Public Radio Network. Readers can email him at [email protected]