Intriguingly, some research into primate behavior suggests that the beta male actually does better than the alpha male. Eager to keep his position atop the heap, and needing a key ally to do this, the alpha male is more likely to favor the beta male with choice food and females so as to not lose the beta male to a competing alpha.
In yesterday's election in Britain, the Conservative Party won but did not win enough. That is, in order to rule, the conservatives will have to form a coalition government with another party. The problem with this is that, in this sense, the Labour Party is tied with the Conservative Party. That is, whichever party is able to partner with the third-place Liberal Democrats will rule. And this would appear to make Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg Britain's favored beta male. Without Clegg's cooperation, neither Labour nor Conservative can rule.
This is a fascinating election for so many reasons but one, of course, is that Britain faces very similar issues as the US. The most obvious similarity is the need to deal with the aftermath of the financial crisis and Great Recession.
To me, it's unfortunate that the Conservative Party did not win outright. The Brits will run a record deficit (11% of GDP) this year and the definite impression I got was that Cameron (the Conservatives leader) was more interested in reducing spending than slashing taxes, which should make Conservatives far more effective at reducing the deficit. Further, as mentioned in the last post, I got the distinct impression that Cameron has a better plan for implementing real reform in the city (London's Wall Street, or financial community).
But instead, Nick Clegg will likely dictate terms to the next administration. What left me unimpressed with Clegg was his seeming reliance upon general voter discontentment with the two main parties. Imagine a candidate standing up between Bush and Kerry and saying, "C'mon. You're not happy with these two. You know it. Vote for me." Crafting an effective policy requires doing more than expressing disgust with the main parties. I never really heard how Clegg's Liberal Democrats offered a coherent difference from either main party. And yet he will get to be the favored beta male. Watching the coalition government rule may well be as fascinating as watching the election. The jockeying for position is not over yet.
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Oh, and by the way, my politics have not changed. I envy the Brits their conservative party. Sometimes a country needs to move in the direction of self reliance and smaller government and sometimes it needs to move in the direction of more regulation and public programs. Neither direction is a foregone conclusion any more than you can say whether you'll more often turn right or left on your drive to the store. But here in the states, our conservative party has been hijacked by people who deny climate change is a risk, deny health care is a right, and whose only economic development trick seems to be cutting taxes. If the Republicans looked more like Britain's Conservative Party, they'd be hard to beat. Instead, they're ruled by obstructionists reactionaries who deify Ronald Reagan but would reject him as a candidate for having actually raised taxes twice. But people do learn.