The Happy Leftie

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Sunday, April 16, 2006

Does the GOP have any ideas?

Let's cuts, endless war, tax cuts, privatized Social Security, tax cuts, private medical savings accounts, tax cuts, deregulation, tax cuts, right-wing judiciary, tax cuts, another endless war... Do they have ideas? Sure. Anything new or good for the majority of Americans? Don't make me laugh. -hl

Polls showing massive gains for the Democratic Party have raised fair questions: Do Democrats have ideas, and is the GOP a governing party or a permanent opposition incapable of actually ruling?

When nearly 70 percent of Americans think the country is headed in the wrong direction, that is a statement about GOP governance
, but does it say Democrats have a better idea?

“These numbers are scary. We’ve lost every advantage we’ve ever had,” GOP pollster Tony Fabrizio said. “The good news is Democrats don’t have much of a plan. The bad news is they may not need one.”

The war is depressing President Bush’s approval rating, says Reagan pollster Richard Wirthlin. “It’s hard to imagine any set of circumstances that would lead to an enhancement of public support,” he said. “It is more likely to go down, and the question is how far and how fast.”

Even in nine Deep South states, the president’s job performance was disapproved by 50 percent to 45 percent
in a poll by Southern GOP strategist Hastings Wyman.

Blue-collar white and well-educated married men in the South are drifting toward the Democratic column, independents are flocking aboard the donkey, and in poll after poll, there is no good news for the president’s party — even on the issue of fighting terrorism. The public thinks Democrats would do a better job of that, too.

What’s wrong? To paraphrase candidate Ronald Reagan: Are you better off today than you were five years ago? If you are a millionaire or billionaire, CEO of an oil company or supplier of war materials, the answer is yes.

Bush inherited a nation that, sadly, was deeply riven by partisanship but which was at peace, buoyed by prosperity and a healthy budget surplus. Moreover, the nation was widely admired by people all over the world.

In less than six years, Bush’s “compassionate conservatism” leaves us still riven by partisanship, mired in a ghastly and unnecessary war, overwhelmed with debt as far into the future as the eye can see and scorned by other nations.

The people running the country froze when Katrina hit, built massive bureaucracies, spent wildly, focused on military adventurism, force-fed the rich, sought to regulate who can marry whom and, in one urgent midnight session, intervened in the family tragedy of Terry Schiavo.

Why can’t the Republicans govern effectively? The answer in the 1950s, when the Republican majority was defeated, is the same now. The leadership comes from the extreme right wing.

As has been said in this space before, the forgotten hero of World War II and the Republican Party, President Eisenhower, blamed the right wing for losing Congress in the 1954 midyear election.

Ike fumed, “If the right wing wants a fight, they’re going to get it. If they want to leave the Republican Party and form a third party, that’s their business. But before I end up, either this Republican Party will reflect progressivism or I won’t be with them anymore.

“And let me tell you one thing. If they think they can nominate a right-wing Old Guard Republican for the presidency, they’ve got another thought coming. I’ll go up and down this country, campaigning against them. I’ll fight them right down the line.”

Eisenhower thought that converting Southern Democrats might move his party to the governing center. He did not anticipate that the base of the Southern GOP would be the old segregationist wing of the Democratic Party, largely more right wing than the GOP West.

Though political winds are blowing in favor of Democrats now, it will take a hurricane to switch 15 seats in the House and six in the Senate to create a Democratic Congress.

However, if either the House or the Senate winds up in Democratic hands, it will be the president’s and the Republican Party’s worst nightmare. Democrats will control investigating committees, which finally will demand accountability for the GOP war, debt and influence peddling.

When the hidden truth fills the airwaves and front pages for months, you could see a Democratic sweep of historic proportions, reducing the GOP to the status of an opposition party.

In the long run, a GOP rout could be the best outcome for the party. The party would likely insist on putting forward more centrist leadership, rendering the right wing an angry hotbed of zany theories.

If the Republican Right is doomed to be a permanent minority, we’re back to the question: Do Democrats have any ideas?

The answer is that Democrats have something even better, a new direction that focuses on the real world of the common man, on science and engineering, on ending the war honorably and on repairing the treasury and the shattered alliances with historic friends in Europe and Asia.

Whether this year or in 2008, it looks as if Democrats will lead, and won’t it be ironic that it took a right-wing president to demonstrate that narrow ideology is not a governing idea?