Sunday, November 14, 2004

Isaac Missed the Point

The point I was trying to make in my post below is not that the Republican party is "destined to fracture after 2008," as Isaac seems to think, but rather that the Democrats are in a position in which they will have the opportunity to pull previously disparate constituencies together. Indeed, this is what they will have to accomplish in order to regain power.

But on the more substantive point, I do think (perhaps contrary to popular wisdom) that the Republican party today would be in disarray were it not for the fact that they are in power and that the Party leadership has an uncanny ability to silence dissent within its own ranks. Newt Gingrich, Dick Armey, Trent Lott, and Bob Dole were very different kinds of conservatives than those in the leadership now. Remember the Contract with America? Let's examine how well the Bush Republicans have held to its tenets:

1. THE FISCAL RESPONSIBILITY ACT: A balanced budget/tax limitation amendment and a legislative line-item veto to restore fiscal responsibility to an out- of-control Congress, requiring them to live under the same budget constraints as families and businesses.
Wait a second? You're saying that the Republican party supported this only 10 years ago?
6. THE NATIONAL SECURITY RESTORATION ACT: No U.S. troops under U.N. command and restoration of the essential parts of our national security funding to strengthen our national defense and maintain our credibility around the world.
Credibility? Clearly this part of the Contract has been thrown to the wayside.
7. THE SENIOR CITIZENS FAIRNESS ACT: Raise the Social Security earnings limit which currently forces seniors out of the work force, repeal the 1993 tax hikes on Social Security benefits and provide tax incentives for private long-term care insurance to let Older Americans keep more of what they have earned over the years.
Giving seniors more money? Keeping Social Security around? It can't be!

Looking back over the Contract it makes me yearn for the days in which Republicans would stick to these relatively moderate proposals. Clearly the Contract has been discarded. Even those parts which do not directly contradict current Republican policy have not been pursued under the current administration. But those Senators and Representatives who were elected under the auspices of said Contract have not disappeared. They still hold office and it is very likely that they are simply grinning and bearing it, waiting for 2008. Perhaps this is not the coalition most Democrats would be interested in, but some sacrifices must be made. Especially if we have a debt crisis in the next four years, a party dedicated to fiscal conservatism (while still keeping around essential parts of the welfare state) could be successful.

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