Friday, February 10, 2006

Party Animals

The Moose opines on the problems of the party animals.

Much is made of the vision deficit in the Democratic Party. Indeed, the donkey is ill-defined, but he is not alone. The elephant also suffers from a lack of definition.

As the Moose discussed a couple of days ago, the GOP's domestic agenda has run out of steam. In this regard, Bruce Reed makes an important point in the new issue of Blueprint. Reed writes,

"For the first time in nearly a decade, House Republicans are more frightened of the people than of Tom DeLay."

The crux of the 1994 Republican Revolution was a faux populist rebellion against the establishment in D.C. Now, Republicans are the establishment.

This is very disconcerting to the elephant's self-image. For years, the Republican Party and conservatives saw themselves as battling against a liberal elite. Now, they are the elite.

In 2004, Republicans had a foil - a liberal Senator from Massachusetts. Since this is a non-Presidential year, the task of creating a liberal elitist enemy is made that more difficult. That why the RNC Chairman singled out Hillary for attack this past weekend.

While the Republicans fear the people, the Democrats have not yet identified with them. They still seem more comfortable with liberal interest groups than with Main Street. And, once again, Reed makes a salient point,

"The conventional wisdom has it wrong: It's no contradiction for a party to be committed to principle and innovation at the same time. On the contrary, reform is vital for a party's principles to survive."

Over the past few years the Moose has been struck both by the corruption of the Republican domestic agenda and the rejection by the Democrats of the successful Clinton progressive-reformist approach to governing. In recent months, it appears that both parties are engaged in a race to the bottom.

In the near term, the Democrats should be rewarded with electoral gains in November. However, the public is not enamored with neither the elephant nor the donkey. As the New York Times reported the other day, there is a palpable fear in Democratic insider circles that the party will not be able to fully capitalize on Republican missteps.

That concern is warranted as the party exposed all of its weaknesses on national security in the past few months. The only solace that the Democrats can take is that congressional elections may turn on the GOP's misfortunes. However, as the Democrats look to 08, if they don't get their act together on defending the country they may be shut out of the White House for another four years.

On a personal note, the Moose increasingly feels like a fish out of water. He could be either a T.R. Republican or a Scoop Jackson Democrat. Alas, neither party welcomes that faction. The Moose is a socially conservative, hawkish economic progressive - that used to be the profile of a large segment of the Democratic Party. No longer. The donkey is dominated a hyperbolic liberal elite that seeks to purge the party of all those who are not infected with Bush Tourettes Syndrome (BTS). Consequently, the Moose continues to roam in the independent wilderness.

In the long run, it is unclear which party or whether either party will be the beneficiary of the deepening disgust with Washington. But this is clear to the Moose - the party that emerges as the party of security, reform and innovation (in that order) will control the future.

Will it be the donkey or the elephant?
-- Posted at 8:23 AM | Link to this post | Email this post