Thursday, October 21, 2004
Let's turn the situation around, and posit a typical Republican contemporary of Eisenhower or Roosevelt (the Teddy variety) peering into his crystal ball at 2004. It is they, I believe, who would cry, "Where has my party gone?" After almost a half-century of control, the social conscience and ideals of men such as FDR have become so universally and subconciously accepted by successive generations that these once "Democratic" ideas are now common in both parties. That a Republican majority would not debate how to remove the government dependency created by Medicare but, rather, to only debate how much the benefits will be increased is all that needs be said. Some might attribute this sentiment to crass pandering by politicians to their constituency, but these ideals are honestly deep in the heart and soul of many a Republican. So, Democrats, in the dawn of the 21st century, have a real party, because your victory over the Republicans is confirmed. And, if this were a movie, this would be the triumphant celebration at the end. Little dancing Democrat Ewoks singing their obnoxious little song as the patriarchs of the Democrat Force, Jackson, FDR and JFK, look on approvingly.
The problem, though, is that unlike a film life goes on. And so, unfortunately, do the Democrats, rapidly becoming an anachronism that, having won the major battles and war of ideas now find themselves, instead, more like the apocryphal stranded Imperial Japanese soldier, unaware the War is over, left fighting their own isolated insignificant battles. As evidence, look only to those individual groups mentioned earlier and evaluate the "vitally important" work they are doing today. At the turn of the last century, the NAACP had to do all it could just to guarantee that a man of color could exercise his right to vote without ending up dead the next morning. They fought the scourge of violent racism embodied by the KKK. In the '50s and '60s they marched in the face of dogs, fire hoses and hostile police to say, "I AM A MAN!" Today they trouble themselves about a silly flag and insensitive language. In the 1900s women even trying to vote were harassed, often beaten and jailed. Some died. In WWII women, as a group, began to gain the respect as people that society, as a whole, had long denied them. Today, feminist groups emphasize latent sexism in a patriarchal society and push to change words like "councilman." The Democrats have been too successful for their own good.
The conversion of what are called "neo-cons" is not so much a winning of Democrats by the conservative argument as it is a logical political realignment of Democrats to the "new-Democrat" party. People who used to identify themselves as Democrats but now call themselves Republicans echo the same thought over and over again. "I didn't leave the Party, the Party left me." As I said, life goes on. Since the life of the Democrat Party relies upon fighting the Republicans, as the Republicans move more left so, too, must the Democrats. But, while there are still true believers, more and more rank and file Democrats find themselves looking at the Party's "important" issues and end up just shaking their heads.
I'm not a political scientist, but I'll go out on a limb here and say that this year's election, like the past two in 2000 and 2002, will end up shocking the Democrat Party. They will see a big win for a President they envision as the embodiment of evil itself (at least that brand of evil that doesn't actually jail, kill, torture or otherwise ruin its opponents' lives). They will see a significant minority vote for the Republicans (I'll go on a limb and call it >20% based upon nothing other than anal extraction). They will see Republican gains in both houses of Congress. And they will pull out their hair and rend their clothes and cry to the heavens "why?" never realizing what it really means. Because in the defeat of today's Party, the ghosts of the Democrat Jedi masters of the past will celebrate their victory.