Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns

Elections

Small-souled political parties

The formation of majorities is supposed to be difficult under the Constitution.  David Brooks takes a shot at explaining something fundamental about American electoral politics, constitutional government, and our two party system by referring to Sam Lubell's invented political solar system idea.  At any moment there is a Sun Party (the majority party which drives the agenda) and the Moon Party (the minority party which shines by reflecting the solar rays).  He gets it only partly right.  He understands that we are in a volatile period in which the "Sun"-like majority hasn't formed, but he misses the idea of realignment (and/or critical elections) that would help him explain his point. The point is not that both parties have developed minority mentalities, as he says, but rather the point is that neither party is capable of really dividing and polarizing the country in such a way that it may persuade the country to come in its direction (say the way Democrats did in the 1930s, thereby crafting the last of our Suns) electorally in order to create a grand majority, around which the Moon(s) would revolve. The Democrats are currently holding on to "policies" they have created over three generations, but are not persuading new folks that the centralized welfare state is worth saving (or constitutional). Mere interest and passion (entitlements) is what is holding the Democratic Party together, and sometimes it makes for a majority, sometimes not. On the other hand the Republicans are incapable of giving a sustained and powerful argument in favor of limited constitutional self-government. They thought they were doing it in the 1980s with Reagan, but not quite. The electoral victories they have had since seem fleeting. They really must become grand partisans and must make the persuasive intellectual arguments first, before making the electoral gains that could be said to look something like the formation of a new long term majority.  They have yet to do that; certainly the presidential candidates are not doing that; see tonight's debate and discover how none of them were born under a rhyming planet. Therefore, the next many (two, four, eight ?) electoral cycles will be much less meaningful than Brooks would like. Until the voters are presented with a real choice and an argument on an issue that seems critical to citizens, and one that transcends normal party lines or coalitions, there will be no Sun, there will be no long-term majority.  The next couple of decades will be fun, messy and fun, and inconclusive.  For those of you who are miserable in the midst of this massive fact and have no other medicine but hope, read the Letters from an Ohio Farmer.
Categories > Elections

Discussions - 1 Comment

The current Ohio Farmer letter is not all that hopeful.

My response to what you point to is to think that we are still reflecting the New Deal sun. The same principles and arguments that fuel its heat and light simply keep it burning. There is nothing new under that sun. Your argument of 1994 does still apply today. That's a little awful to contemplate.

We were diverted by communism and the lessons of it. As that instruction dims with time, we have no other great light or object to gravitate to. The young know little of it as the education of the young in history stops at WWII or at best with the wrong lessons about Vietnam. They have been taught nothing about economics, either. All of us reflect the New Deal sun.

I almost hoped the the war on terror and the threat of growing Islam would prove the new light in politics. It doesn't touch us like the sort of home economics issues of the nanny state. What is the next great bright thing?

By the way, I like the new logo I saw on the front page.

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