The Republicans and the Christian Right are leading America on a backward march into the Dark Ages --- and that is stepping on our dreams. As a culture, we have always been idealistic about progress and inspired by new discoveries to improve the lot of the human race. We're about invention and reinvention. It's one of our best qualities.
These people are telling us that those days are over. We have to depend upon brute force, superstition and ancient revelation. Science is dangerous. Art is frightening. Education must be strictly circumscribed so that children aren't exposed to ideas that might lead them astray.
It's a pinched, sour, ugly vision of America. For those who believe that their time on earth is all about waiting for The Bridegroom, perhaps that doesn't mean much. But for the rest of us, things like scientific breakthroughs or artistic achievement are inspirational, soaring emotional connections with our country and our fellow man. It makes us proud. The dark-ages conservatives want to take that away from us.
This country has been divided at 50/50 for some time. That probably cannot continue much longer and a real majority will emerge before long. Tax-cuts have held together the GOP coalition up to now, but their dark vision of the future may be the thing that finally drives the suburban, educated voters to our side of the ledger for a long time to come. We're the ones with the progressive dream of the future and that's as American as a Big Mac and fries."
One of the basic patterns of American politics, is that, as one Party uses a strategy of becoming more radical, as a way of reaching for power, the other Party responds by becoming both more adamant and more moderate.
As Billmon helpfully explains, Karl Rove only wants 51%: "The working assumption seems to be that the partisan divide between Republican and Democrat -- or more accurately, between conservative and non-conservative -- is too deep to fill and too wide to bridge. That being the case, 51% is the best either side can hope for, as well as the most politically effective and efficient majority. In other words, the best of all possible worlds."
The trouble with a 51% solution in a two-party system is that it is inherently unstable. Two-party systems tend to split 55-45 or even 60-40, most of the time; one Party is clearly dominant, and the other merely aspiring. The Republican Party had the dominant role, 1896-1930, and the Democrats had that role, 1932-1982. Oh, sure, the minority Party had a flirtation or two with power, as in Woodrow Wilson's Administration and Eisenhower's. When the dominant coalition grows too large, there's a tendency to sprout third-party movements, as happened in 1912 and 1948. But, that's not what's happening now. What's happening now is just the opposite: the two-Party system has been strengthening, sapping the middle.
As a Party becomes more radical, its leadership become more radical, which, oftentimes, means more stupid and, ironically, more corruptible. Intensity of devotion from radical followers can offset the loss of numbers overall, on election day, but the erosion of the quality of leadership is the more fatal affliction.
What we're looking for in a Great Political Storm is an emotionally arousing moment, in which people form or reform their personal Party political affiliation. The duration of that moment may be a period of months or years, but its consequence can be far-reaching.