Wednesday, November 05, 2008
Fred Barnes of The Wall Street Journal explains why he sees a much larger lurch to the left under President Obama than there was under either Carter or Clinton. We will now get to see whether he is right:
A sharp lurch to the left and enactment of a liberal agenda, or major parts of it, are all but inevitable. The centrist limits in earlier eras of Democratic control are gone. In the short run, Democrats may be constrained by the weak economy and a large budget deficit. Tax hikes and massive spending programs, except those billed as job creation, may have to be delayed.Left unaddressed is whether the public will tolerate this agenda once it has been put into place and its effects have been felt. Part of such resistance, which would manifest during the mid-term congressional elections, will inhere in how -- damnably to Obama -- selfish Americans still are. But part could have been aided by the Republicans not having behaved so much like Democrats themselves to have screwed up the economy badly as it is. What will there be to provide contrast to the results of the policies of certain failure about to be enacted by the Democrats?
But much of their agenda -- the "card check" proposal to end secret ballots in union elections, the Fairness Doctrine to stifle conservative talk radio, liberal judicial nominees, trade restrictions, retreat from Iraq, talks with Iran -- doesn't require spending. And after 14 years of Republican control of Congress, the presidency, or both, Democrats are impatient. They want to move quickly.
Democrats had large majorities when Jimmy Carter became president in 1977 (61-38 in the Senate, 292-143 in the House) and when Bill Clinton took office in 1993 (56-44, 258-176). So why are their prospects for legislative success so much better now?
The most significant change is in the ideological makeup of the Democratic majorities. In the Carter and Clinton eras, there were dozens of moderate and conservative Democrats in Congress, a disproportionate number of them committee chairs. Now the Democratic majorities in both houses are composed almost uniformly of liberals. [links and bold added]
The Republicans lost this election in large part because they did not stand up for the principle of individual rights, resulting in there being no substantive difference in theory or practice between themselves and the Democrats. Furthermore, since we have a good start on a Democrat economy already, stand by for the Democrats to blame anything bad on the Republicans, and for the contrast in economic conditions between now and a couple of years hence not to be as great as it ought. Conceivably, the Republicans have already lost the mid-terms.
Furthermore, as the hypocritical, less-consistent altruists in this election, they lost the moral high ground to the Democrats. Let me be the first to state that I want an alternative: Proudly selfish politicians who understand that rational self-interest is what made America great.
Republicans, there's your path to recovery.
Today: Corrected typos.