During the ’08 campaign, one of the things I hoped we would see in an Obama presidency was a repeat of the Clinton years: a Democrat president harried and made ineffectual by the Republicans in the legislative branch. I am beginning to think it will not happen. Instead of Clinton or Carter, Obama could very well be another FDR — a president who does great damage to the country with his big government initiatives, but retains the love of the people with his smile, his positive rhetoric and a fawning liberal media.
The Democrats are thinking the same as I am, and they are beginning to crow. We got two pieces of Democrats triumphalism this week. Much of what the partisan Robert Shrum writes in The Republican Ruins is unfair, but amid the gloating and the spin there are a few nuggets of truth.
…the White House intends to move ahead on immigration reform. This will guarantee conservative outbursts of barely disguised ethnic-baiting that is sure to alienate Hispanic voters, the fastest-growing segment of the electorate.
Whatever the problems of Obama’s immigration policy, the Republicans are heading down the wrong path with anti-immigration nationalism. I think there is a racist element as well. I suspect the reaction would be different if America were being flooded by blond-haired, blue-eyed Scandinavians.
…it is Republicans who are polarized, not the country.
This is true. The Republicans are a sorry coalition of pragmatist welfare statists, religious conservatives and fiscal conservatives. The fiscal conservatives seem to shrinking as more moderates like David Frum counsel making peace with the welfare state in order to remain a viable party.
The Republicans aren’t dead—just comatose. If Obama fails, they will be back. But that outcome appears increasingly chimerical. Meantime, amid the Republican ruins, delusion provides a temporary shelter and psychic self-satisfaction. How many defeats will it take for Republicans to rebuild a credible party of ideas? It’s bound to happen some day, but who knows how or when?
I think Shrum is right. More on this below.
Not to be taken as seriously as Shrum is Paul Krugman’s column, Tea Parties Forever. Powerline calls this column “venting,” but that is too kind. He is doing what leftist often do: spewing venom. (Given that public education is turning out ignorant conformists, mockery and intimidation are probably effective rhetoric these days.)
Krugman calls Republicans “crazy people” and says they “are refusing to grow up.” Call the first the psychotic explanation, and the second the neurotic explanation — seriously, they’re nothing but smears. Democrats write off a major political party as psychologically disturbed at their own peril; instead, they should work to understand the ideas their opponents hold.
The question is: what will the Republican Party be when it emerges from its coma? How will it regain power?
I fear the Republicans will position themselves against the nihilist, internationalist left as a religious/nationalist party. Both parties will be big government, welfare state parties; the differences will be in the margins. The Democrats will be a little more secular and environmentalist, whereas the Republicans will be a little more religious and nationalist. It looks like a European future from here.
In the near term I see no party standing for liberty and individual rights. In a country with free elections, the majority gets the government it deserves.