American history changes direction as the baton passes between our political parties
In 1932 the baton passed to the Democratic Party. Over time the Republicans regenerated, and in 1968 we returned to a two-party system. In 1980 it passed to the Republican Party. Over time the Democratic Party rebuilt itself, and in 1992 we returned to a two-party system. Now the Democratic Party prepares to take the baton, with the prospect in November of gaining the Presidency and an iron-clad majority in both houses of Congress.
With the South returning to the Democratic Party and so many of the moderates in Congress retiring (from both parties), President Obama and Congress will have the most liberal Administration in American history. Even they do not know what they can accomplish. After years of divided rule, their ambitions are modest.
- Some evolution toward national health care, increasing government influence over one-tenth of our economy.
- Increased regulation of the financial service industry, increasing government influence over almost one-tenth of our economy.
- Far greater regulation of the environment, esp. carbon emissions, increasing government influence over all aspects of our economy.
No one can see what will result. Interestingly, few even attempt to do so.
Peggy Noonan, one the most acute observers of America’s political trends, describes this key moment in history: “Pity Party“, Wall Street Journal (16 May 2008) — Excerpt:
The Democrats aren’t the ones falling apart, the Republicans are. The Democrats can see daylight ahead. For all their fractious fighting, they’re finally resolving their central drama. Hillary Clinton will leave, and Barack Obama will deliver a stirring acceptance speech. Then hand-to-hand in the general, where they see their guy triumphing. You see it when you talk to them: They’re busy being born.
The Republicans? Busy dying. The brightest of them see no immediate light. They’re frozen, not like a deer in the headlights but a deer in the darkness, his ears stiff at the sound. “Crunch. Twig. Hunting party.”
But this week a House Republican said publicly what many say privately, that there is another truth. “Members and pundits . . . fail to understand the deep seated antipathy toward the president, the war, gas prices, the economy, foreclosures,” said Rep. Tom Davis of Virginia in a 20-page memo to House GOP leaders. The party, Mr. Davis told me, is “an airplane flying right into a mountain.”
What happens to the Republicans in 2008 will likely be dictated by what didn’t happen in 2005, and ’06, and ’07. The moment when the party could have broken, on principle, with the administration – over the thinking behind and the carrying out of the war, over immigration, spending and the size of government – has passed. What two years ago would have been honorable and wise will now look craven. They’re stuck.
Mr. Bush has squandered the hard-built paternity of 40 years. But so has the party, and so have its leaders. If they had pushed away for serious reasons, they could have separated the party’s fortunes from the president’s. This would have left a painfully broken party, but they wouldn’t be left with a ruined “brand,” as they all say, speaking the language of marketing. And they speak that language because they are marketers, not thinkers. Not serious about policy. Not serious about ideas. And not serious about leadership, only followership.
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Other posts about this topic
How the Iraq and Vietnam wars are mirror images of each other (7 February 2008) — Now we have McCain, the leading Republican Presidential candidate, talking of an open-ended commitment to victory in Iraq.
What do blogs do for America? (26 February 2008) — As our problems reach critical dimensions and our economy sinks into what is (at best) a severe recession, our national leadership will likely move into the hands of someone with astonishingly little capacity to govern.
A look at the next phase of the Iraq War: 2009-2012 (1 March 2008) — What is next in Iraq? None of the leading candidates have expressed any intention of leaving Iraq – except in the distant and vague future. McCain intends to fight so long as (or until) we suffer few casualties, then stay for a long time (perhaps a hundred years, as McCain said here and here) ). On the other hand, Obama has been quite explicit…
Our metastable Empire, built on a foundation of clay (3 March 2008) — We can elect leaders with vast ambitions (foreign for McCain, domestic for Obama), but can no longer afford them.
How long will all American Presidents be War Presidents? (21 March 2008) — The Presidential campaign rolls on in the seventh year since 9/11, with the only debate about the Long War being in which nations America should fight. We see this even the speeches of the most “liberal” candidate, Senator Barack Obama.
More recommended reading (4 April 2008) — About the story ”Obama Adviser Calls for Troops To Stay in Iraq Through 2010“, New York Sun (4 April 2008)
For the full archive, see About the candidates for President of the United States.