As recent as two years ago I thought the Democrat Party was on a highway to hell. I thought it was about to lose the middle and collapse to nothing but its leftist base. The main reason was the war. Like many Americans, I was appalled by the left’s reaction to 9/11. They did not understand that we were at war, they blamed America for being attacked and they wanted us to do anything and everything except wage war. It seemed to me that all the Republicans had to do to capitalize on the left’s suicidal anti-Americanism was fight the war and defeat the enemy.
The second reason I thought the Dems were about to go the way of the Whigs was that glorious moment in the 1990’s when Bill Clinton, a Democrat President, declared the era of big government over. Socialism had lost its esteem; no one outside of Cuba and North Korea believed in it anymore. All the Republicans had to do to capitalize on this was decrease government spending, lower taxes and begin dismantling the mixed economy.
It turned out that the two things the Republicans needed to do -- defeat the enemy and decrease the government -- were the two things President Bush would not do. His premises made him do the opposite of what he should have done. Compassionate conservatism is the welfare state only worse: the welfare state with religion mixed in. (What genius thought up THAT?) In foreign policy neoconservatism is the idea that America should be a benevolent empire building democracies around the world. Bush ended up increasing the size of government at home and giving up the war abroad to focus on nation building in Iraq.
I no longer believe the Democrat Party is about to implode. Quite the contrary, I have never been so unsure about the future of the Republican Party. They have abandoned everything Barry Goldwater stood for and embraced religion, big government and neoconservative nation building. What is there to keep me voting Republican? Nothing. I look at both parties in horror now. My votes will mostly be calculations on how to achieve gridlock or some situation in which the government will get the least amount done. The best we can hope for is time for the philosophy of Ayn Rand to spread through our culture before we descend into dictatorship. This is the dire situation we are in today. If I believed in the myths of religion I would damn the politicians of both parties to hell for abandoning liberty.
John B. Judis and Ruy Teixeira believe demographics favor the Democrats. I didn’t read the whole essay -- it’s quite long -- but I have my doubts about their argument. The only vital, growing ideology right now is religion and that favors the Republicans. Socialism is dead and environmentalism looks more and more like a joke. The Democrats have nothing that people can believe in and fight for. This comes out in their day to day politics, in which they give no reason to vote for them, but instead attack the Republicans as incompetent, corrupt, whatever.
What I see for the near future is both parties being kept alive by the impracticalities and failures of the other party. (And if this doesn’t turn America into a nation of cynics, nothing will.) The death of the Democrat Party that I thought was imminent was forestalled by the titanic failure of the Bush Administration. Power will continue to bounce back and forth between the parties because people are on any given election day more disgusted with and terrified by one party than the other.
People have nothing to vote for in our era, but much to vote against. We live in an age in which evil abounds in politics and good is hard to find. This cannot go on forever. Sooner or later people will get sick of voting for the lesser of two evils. Then perhaps the people will revolt. Or maybe not -- maybe a choice of evils is all the American people deserve.
Tell you what, this is sheer speculation, but I think things will get very interesting in the next 5-15 years. The great thing about politics: it's a show that never ends.