David Brooks writes a very fine article in todays NYTimes on this theme: We have gone from the cultural wars to the presidency wars, and this is very dangerous stuff. The clash is not over philosophy (or, as he says, values) or policy, it is over legitimacy. So when Dean speaks of the Republicans as enemies, or says that what is at stake here is democracy itself, this is--unfortunately--too meaningful. It implies a perpetual war--driven by anger--among politicians; domestic politics now being conducted as if it were foreign relations. Is there any trust left? Are we still members of the same constitutional order? It can be hoped that Brooks is wrong, and I do hope it. It may be that this warrior mentality is just a manifestation of the natural (and not simply bad) anger that one party or side has against the other. But he is implying that this hatred is more than that.
Certainly, the upcoming presidential election cycle will decide some of these things, both in how the parties and the candidates talk about what is really important, how citizens will be persuaded or not, and then, just maybe, their decisions at the polls will dampen this dangerous enthusiasm among partisans of what, at the moment, may seem like different worlds. Warriors should be transformed into citizens, again. A certain amount of trust is necessary in this republican regime.
"We have gone from the cultural wars to the presidency wars, and this is very dangerous stuff. The clash is not over philosophy (or, as he says, values) or policy, it is over legitimacy."
One can trace this constant liberal drumbeat of GOP illegitimacy directly back to the Nixon resignation, and the end of the American "consensus" in the mid seventies. An entire political party, which has lost the means to win elections in the areana of new ideas by the legitimate means, has slowly but surely learned well the practise of the politics of fear and crisis mongering, scandal-mongering and the "politics of personal destruction" while attempting to set themselves "above the fray."
Empowered by their sicophant at NYT and WaPo, this road led directly to the Gore-induced "chad" crisis during E2K, of which Robert Bork offered this take:
"But whatever the outcome of the litigations in Florida, the deeper problems is that a spirit of inflamed partisanship is revealing fault lines throughout our society. An open and unashamed win-at-all-cost mentality has been let loose upon the land, due initially to Bill Clinton but now practised, if possible, even more blatantly by his acolyte Al Gore."
Mr. Bork then cited Learned Hands chilling truth:
"This much I think I know--that a society so riven that the spirit of moderation is gone. no court can save; that a society where that spirit flourishes, no court need save; that society which evades its responsibility by thrusting upon the courts the nature of that spirit, that spirit in the end will perish."
Will such a "spirit" pervade our midst unto a foolish and destructive end? I Pray that it will not.