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In the current Economist the usual insightful analysis of American politics. Far better, in fact, than anything I’ve seen from any of the Beltway Bunch.
The right has dominated American politics since at least 1980. The Republicans’ electoral successes have been striking: five out of seven presidential elections since 1980 and a dramatic seizure of the House in 1994 after 40 years of Democratic rule. Even more striking has been the right’s success in making the political weather.
The Republican Party is only the most visible part of the American right. The right’s hidden strength lies in its conservative base. America is almost unique in possessing a vibrant conservative movement. Every state boasts organisations fighting in favour of guns and against taxes and abortion. The Christian right can call upon megachurches and Evangelical colleges. Conservatives have also created a formidable counter-establishment of think-tanks and pressure groups.
Yet today this mighty movement is in deep trouble…
The Republicans have failed the most important test of any political movement—wielding power successfully. They have botched a war. They have splurged on spending. And they have alienated a huge section of the population. It is now the Democrats’ game to win or lose.
I’m with them on the analysis most of the way down to the end–and there we part. I don’t see the plight of the G.O.P. going into 2008 as nearly so challenged. All the Republicans have to do to embrace the historical American conservative values which served the party very well in earlier administrations. The fundamental error in the Economist’s analysis is in suggesting that an administration that engaged in the most obscene deficit spending in the country’s history, that mortgaged the country’s future, that engaged in foreign military adventurism at the drop of a hat, and that—while lecturing us all about big government—grotesquely inflated the size of the state has any legitimate claim to the label “conservative.”
It’s absurd. We’ve had a group of radical kleptocrats in control. If the Republicans disavow them and return to policies in the range of Eisenhower, or even of Reagan, they won’t have that much to fear at the polls, even if the White House is delivered to the hands of their competitors for a while.
The United States needs a robust, healthy, two-party system. Right now I don’t know which party is ailing more. I’m disgusted with both of them.
More from Scott Horton:
Six Questions — October 18, 2014, 8:00 pm
Nathaniel Raymond on CIA interrogation techniques.
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”