Saturday, November 8, 2014

Can Democratic Politics Get Any Worse?

Truly we live in a petty and dismal age. I give you as Example A an editorial in the National  Review called "The Governing Trap." This gem of deep wisdom argues that trying to govern the country now that they have majorities in both houses of Congress would be a big mistake for Republicans:
This course of action makes no sense as a political strategy. . . . .

The desire to prove Republicans can govern also makes them hostage to their opponents in the Democratic party and the media. It empowers Senator Harry Reid, whose dethroning was in large measure the point of the election. If Republicans proclaim that they have to govern now that they run Congress, they maximize the incentive for the Democrats to filibuster everything they can — and for President Obama to veto the remainder. Then the Democrats will explain that the Republicans are too extreme to get anything done. . . .

A prove-you-can-govern strategy will inevitably divide the party on the same tea-party-vs.-establishment lines that Republicans have just succeeded in overcoming. The media will in particular take any refusal to pass a foolish immigration bill that immediately legalizes millions of illegal immigrants as a failure to “govern.”
The really sad thing is that all of this is probably true. The best strategy for winning back the White House is for Republicans to so thoroughly gum things up in Washington, and make all political news so depressing or infuriating, that Hillary can't run far away from Obama to escape the shame of it. If all Republicans care about is winning the White House, that is what they should do.

Two things, though. First, Hillary is still likely to win, because of the see-saw demographic we have seen over the past decade, with Democrats running vastly better in Presidential years, and because all of the obvious Republican candidates are toads. So this editorial becomes another case of the realignment fantasy I have already written about, in which political hacks sit around dreaming about what they would do if they utterly routed the opposition and seized control of everything. But aren't Republicans supposed to be fans of our Constitution? Our founding document was very carefully written to make that sort of complete control by any faction all but impossible. When Republicans did hold the Presidency and both houses, from 2002 to 2006, what did they accomplish?

Can't think of anything?

Still can't think of anything?

No matter what happens, Democrats are not going to disappear, and there is simply no constituency in the country for radical change, least of all when it would involve restructuring Medicare and Social Security. We saw that in 2003 and we will see it again.

Thing two is a bit more abstract, but don't any of these Republican Senators and Congressmen want to actually achieve anything? Isn't there anything they want to do for the country besides chalk up wins for their team? I suspect that many of them actually do want to pass laws and attend signing ceremonies and feel like statesmen and all the other fun stuff that gets some people into politics. I suspect many of them are bored with constant opposition, which must be really exhausting sometimes. I suspect some of them want to make deals.

And if not, well, eventually history will sweep them aside as it does everyone else. There will be no great political realignment because the country is too divided and too ambivalent to support one. We will be stuck with divided government and weather vane voting for a long time to come, and I suggest Republicans make the best of it.

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