Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

No Left Turns


John F. Harris, a staff writer for the Washington Post considers whether or not the election was a realignment. This is not an especially deep article, but it is worth noting because the issue will continue to be raised in the MSM (and among academics), as it should. And there are few items to take note of: First, the election was a Republican party victory, not only a victory for the president (compare 1984), and party loyalty was built. Second, Bush and the GOP cut into some formerly deeply Demo groups, including Hispanics. Third, he points out that the GOP apparently used, and is using, programs to build new constituencies (e.g., Social Security) and this may attract new and (for political purposes) permanent constituencies. Fourth, the GOP is dominating the fastest growing areas in the country.

I am not yet certain that this election has meant that ordinary partisanship was turned into grand partisanship (e.g.,
one that shapes public opinion in a most profound way). Is the country divided enough yet? Is it polarized enough yet (in the same way in which FDR wanted to polarize the country, and did)? It is certainly true that since 1980, and most especially since 1994, the GOP has made massive gains at every level of government. Does this mean that there is now a real choice, and the division is over fundamental issues? I believe that part of the so called "values" discussions have to do--in a round-about way--with this issue. The answer tilts to "yes." And its not only over matters of, say, religion, but also questioning--for the first time in an operational way--the very idea of certain programs that have been tauight to be politically sacred; Social Security, the graduated income tax, etc. (I note in passing that the core of the Liberal welfare system was overthrown after the 1994 election).

And are the Demos ready to become the "me too" party of those who lose realignments (e.g., GOP in the 1950’s)? The actions of the administration and the GOP Congress are very much worth watching with these things in mind. Will they govern now without guilt or hesitation, like a majority should? And will they continue to build the party, as they have for the last four years, rather than just be concerned with a presidential victory? So the elections of 2006 will tell us much. Is it possible that the GOP will gain in a non-presidential year, and into a president’s second term? Even FDR didn’t do that in 1938 (the Demoscrats lost 81 seats in the House and 8 in the Senate; although they kept a decisive majority in both chambers).

The results in 2006 will not answer the question, but they will lead us toward an answer. Is the GOP majority
enduring? And will the Republicans be able to build the new grounds for a political consensus that will last for a generation, or more?

Also note this in the New York Times by Todd S. Purdum. He is grinding his teeth over whether the new Bush term, with early signs of "elephantine hubris" will end up "threatening one-party dominion over the life of the nation itself." Now this is a little weird, as well as disingenuous. Whenever there has been a Liberal lock on the electoral system (say, during the New Deal and Great Society), the MSM was not asking such questions like do checks and balances still work, etc. Now that the country has moved away from domination by the Democrats, the eggheads are worried about a one party tyranny; indeed, Purdum’s article ends with an apparent cautionary note. The last words in the article are two: Civil War. Really.

Michael Kinsley, the poor fellow, is just plain tired of trying to figure it all out, so he says "to hell with values"! He concludes his silly op-ed with this: "A country whose political dialogue is all about values is either a country with no serious problems or a country hiding from its serious problems. When I want values, I go to Wal-Mart." I almost feel sorry for the guy.

Discussions - 5 Comments

What has to be remembered though is that while everyone is concentrating on the inroads the Republicans are making into traditionally Democratic consitutuancies, the Democrats are doing the same to the Republicans, though, maybe at a slightly slower rate.

The Northeast has not always been a Democratic stronghold. Rather, it, along with the upper mid-west, were the backbone of the Republican party.

But more recently, the Republicans are losing some moderates. My father, a life long Republican, could not vote for Mr. Bush this time because of his stand on abortion. My recently deceased mother, many of whose ancestors helped found the Republican Party, would surely have voted for Mr. Kerry this time, for similar reasons. Indeed, she started her slide to the left in the 1980s when Dick Lamm was governor of Colorado, and she was state legislative chairperson for the League of Communist Women (actually, of Women Voters). Knowing him through her lobbying work, she voted for him. Then, my parents knew his sucessor, Roy Romer, from when his father-in-law was the minister of the church in which I was baptized. And so, they voted for him too, despite him being a Democrat. And now, I think my father votes Republican at the local level, but Democratic at the state and national level.

This election was interesting to me, as I knew a number of Democrats voting for Mr. Bush, and a number of Republicans voting for Mr. Kerry. After all, if you have any intellectual pretensions, you couldn’t seriously consider voting for the cowboy from Texas. Even after finding out he was probably smarter than Mr. Kerry.

Kinsley is making more of the same, tired arguments from the last month. He is trying to redefine values as including highway construction. He forgets that most values voters are talking about objective morality, not a fuzzy-wuzzy sense of "values." This is a relativist argument that there are no moral truths, only what you believe. Because, hey, all truth is relative, and truth itself is a chimerical dream. He also adopts the Progressive view that America needs more educated, competent, scientific elites to manage its public policy rather than those with character and values. How far from the Founders this country has come when formerly arguments were made about a republic rooted in the public good, patriotism, virtue, morality, and character against corruption, self-interest, ambition, and avarice.

He doesn’t need values and no one really expected him to have any. Let him and his liberal elite buddies to scoff at values and the American people, while they go right on voting against gay marriage and homosexual marriage, and paying their $9 to see "The Passion." By the way, these people also happen to give more to charity than the wealthy elitist snobs and don’t mind a bell-ringer at Target to collect money for the poor.

It’s worth noting, and reiterating, the slew of references to secession, civil war, et. al. in America. They are not trivial throwaways, they are reflections of something deeper.

In fairness, I should note that the "Civil War" analogy has been bandied about on the right as well over the last couple of years.

I do not expect a shooting Civil War - the American system is far too robust for that. Having said that, it’s clear that both sides of the political spectrum see themselves locked in an existential struggle for existence (albeit for very different reasons, some domestic and some international), not ust a conventional my party vs. your party at election time.

Democrats, who feel like they’re losing this struggle, are panicking a bit. This is to be expected. On the other hand, you’ve also got uglier sentiments brewing like this "nuke America" thread at DU. See:

Ultimately, the best cure is just to keep exposing such things. This has the fine side-effect of providing early warning should they begin to persist into the mainstream or intensify in other ways.

I’m just as much bothered by Republican Socialism as I am by the Democrat version.

Different ends same means. Men with guns ensure proper behavior.

In true coomunist countries the government determines acceptable social and economic behavior.

In America we are more efficient. We have a division of labor. The Dems obsession is economic man, the Republicans obsess over social man.

Republicans are gaining support among working-class and lower-middle class voters, but continue to lose support further up the socioeconomic scale. This is a recipe for short-term gain and long-term pain. In the end, the masses follow the lead of the elites, whether they intend to or not.

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