The time is right for a merger of the Republican and Democratic parties. Philosophical differences separating the two parties have diminished over the past 20 years to the point where it would be in the best interests of the two parties and the U.S. public for the Republicans and Democrats to pool their resources.
The creation of a super-party, perhaps called the Republicratic Party, would produce sizeable efficiencies through the integration of the offices and operations of each political party into a single entity. Such a merger also would produce substantial savings for the two parties’ top contributors and would benefit the American public by presenting a unified vision for the country’s future, unencumbered by traditional political infighting between the two dominant parties.
Under the merger scenario, the political parties could retain their brand names, Republican and Democrat, to which many voters have grown attached. Each unit, though, would become a subsidiary of a political holding party called Republicratic Inc., which would become the party label affixed to ballots next to candidates’ names in election seasons.
Synergy savings realized from the merger could reach into the tens of millions of dollars at the national, state and local levels. These savings could be passed along to the party’s major corporate and special interest contributors, who could then use those savings to reward their shareholders and members. By combining resources, the two parties would be able to spend less money on fundraising, which would free up resources and time on getting the merged party’s new message out to voters.
In particular, savings could be realized by shutting down the campaign offices of the least dominant of either party in a state or city and then consolidating operations at the dominant party’s facility. The parties also could shrink staffing levels, which also would create savings for the contributors.
Consolidating the party offices would open the communication lines among the political operatives. All too often in mergers, communication between internal units breaks down due to petty rivalries. The two parties would need to make certain that they develop campaign plans and outreach efforts that do not overlap.
Economies of scale in the political business certainly are important, especially in the building of campaign apparatuses at the grass roots level where the parties can attract the greatest number of people to the polls.
Given the proposed merger’s horizontal nature, it would certainly come under the scrutiny of the Federal Election Commission. The two parties could propose certain concessions that would result in easing the entry of other political parties into the political process. To win the FEC’s blessing for the merger, the new Republicratic entity also could negotiate a deal with establishment media that would provide for greater coverage of non-Republicratic political parties.
These concessions ultimately would benefit less dominant political parties that have been virtually shut out of the political process through exclusion from debates, discriminatory ballot access laws and media blackouts of their campaigns. A settlement agreement could be reached among Federal Election Commission staff, the proposed Republicratic entity, other political parties and the U.S. media on a scheme that could greatly enhance democracy in the United States by encouraging greater competition in the political process.
Furthermore, FEC officials likely would be swayed into giving the merger a green light if the Democrats and Republicans could show that the cost efficiencies would be passed through to their traditional campaign contributors.
Another argument in favor of such a merger would be the likely expansion of public involvement in the political process. One can envision scenarios in which unilateral attempts at expansion by either political party, absent the merger, would fail. Public involvement in the political process has been static or declining for the past few decades. Both the Republican and Democratic Parties have operated roughly at their current scales for some years. Evidence such as this would suggest that neither political party would likely expand its political base any time soon in the absence of a merger.
A Republicratic Party would find the greatest growth opportunities among members of the public who have not previously participated in the political process or have been alienated by the petty nature of the competition previously exhibited by the two dominant parties. However, it is unlikely that the merged entity would find much success in seeking to attract members of the public already aligned with other parties, such as the Libertarian, Green or Socialist Workers.
The merging of political parties has been a common occurrence in U.S. history, primarily involving less dominant parties and occurring at the state level. For instance, the Massachusetts Green Party and the Rainbow Coalition Party last spring united their memberships into a single political entity. In 1998, the Oregon Green and Socialist Parties merged into the Pacific Green Party. In 1999, the D.C. Green and Statehood Parties became the D.C. Statehood Green Party.
In response to the Massachusetts Green Party merger, Ben Manski, a member of the steering committee of the Green Party of the United States noted: “The Green Party isn’t only growing through the incremental process of persuading and registering new members, one by one.” The Republican and Democratic parties could enjoy similar growth through a merger, instead of relying solely on time-consuming efforts at the grass-roots level.
Political party mergers also are more common in parliamentary systems where the number of seats that a particular party holds determines which party controls the government. In Britain, the third-largest party is the Liberal Democrats, established in the late 1980s by the merger between the Liberal Party and part of the Social Democratic Party.
But there is no reason why such a merger would not produce great benefits in the U.S. political system. A merger would enhance the Republican and Democratic parties’ ability and incentive to compete, which would result in lower costs for campaign contributors, improved quality for party loyalists and enhanced service to the American people.
The new super-party would sell an ideology vastly different than any of its competitors, forcing the Republicrats to work harder at clearly articulating their message. Under the current system, in which the Republicans and Democrats are dominant, debate between the two tends to be over the nuances of an issue on which members of both parties generally agree. Debate between the two parties also often is limited to superficial issues typically related to image rather than the substance of each party’s position on issues.
If administered properly by regulators at the FEC, the creation of a Republicratic Party would generate enough benefits to counteract any adverse effects from the loss of a political party. Most important, a merger of the Republicans with the Democrats would offer a clear vision to the American people on where the party stands and, based on the provisions in a settlement agreement approved by the FEC, the merger would ease entry into the political process by other parties, creating a new and vibrant era of competition in American politics.