Welcome back to 1994

doug_thompsonBy Doug Thompson

I don’t think the Republicans will regain the majority in Congress in the mid-term election next year.

I do think, though, that Democrats will take a drubbing. That will be a good thing for President Barack Obama.

The president’s a skilled political negotiator. That’s nice. It’s also a useless talent in the current political situation. His party’s majority in Congress is so big it’s unwilling to take what it can get. It keeps holding out for everything. They think they’re so powerful they can do without, or coerce, Democrats on the electoral bubble. That includes Sen. Blanche Lincoln of Arkansas .

The Democrats were deliriously happy to win the presidency without the South. Now, apparently, they want to purge the party of Southern Democrats by adopting positions those Democrats cannot possibly support, or can only support with great risk.

The party would be a lot easier to handle if their majority was cut down. Then there’d be some room – room that sharp operators like Obama could use. It might be enough to allow Obama to be as successful as Bill Clinton, who had most of his gains after the Democrats lost their majority completely. It’s a thought – or a hope anyway.

There’s another problem. The lines are hardening. The Republicans don’t have much maneuver room either.

Consider the tea parties and so forth.

“What all this shows is that the G.O.P. has been taken over by the people it used to exploit,” columnist Paul Krugman of the New York Times wrote about recent anti-health reform demonstrations.

Whatever else you think of the liberal Mr. Krugman, that pinging sound you hear is that of a nail being hit firmly on the head. He’s not the first to hit it. Someone covering the last presidential race, for instance, pointed out that Gov. Mike Huckabee is the Republican Party’s reward for stringing the Religious Right along for all those years. The strung-along were now demanding a wedding date. What was the leadership of a Republican Party to do when exploiting the right to get elected and then dropping their agenda doesn’t work anymore?

I don’t think conservatives would disagree that they were played. Part of the reason they are so angry must be the realization they were exploited. The Bush years came and went. At the end of it, they were left with: a war or two, depending on your definitions; bigger government; less civil liberty; abortion still firmly in place as the law of the land; and gay marriage legalized in some states. On top of all that was a bankrupt government and ruined economy that paved the way for election of a president and a Congress more liberal than any that could have possibly been elected without those crises.

In short, they’re mad as hell and they’re not going to take it anymore.

Democrats are gloating over all this. The Republicans are going to become the party of the fringe, they chortle.

That’s both foolish and dangerous.

The pendulum will swing, folks. Democratic and Republican polices are driving off independents and moderates in droves. It is the independents and the moderates who are becoming marginalized, not the Republicans.

Think I’m exaggerating? Could anyone have imagined a serious Republican primary challenger to U.S. Rep. John Boozman two years ago?

Someday, the pendulum will swing too far.

That way fascism lies.

Aside from bailouts, the thing that has conservatives – among others – really frightened is the feeling that our government is going down the same road as our economy did. It keeps amassing debt. And what will happen when it all comes crashing down? It’s a fair question.

Economic crisis and democracy gave Germany Hitler. Years before that, Lenin seized power with one slogan: “Peace! Land! Bread!”

It can happen here.

Categories: Features