Wednesday, March 23, 2005

Imminent Death (not a Shiavo post)

In the early days of the net, even in the days before the web, there was a recurring phenomena of "people in the know" writing foreboding stories about how the net was expanding to quickly and that it would soon hit some particular barrier that would bring it crashing to the ground. These types of anxious reports were so frequent that they spawned one of the oldest internet jokes:

"Imminent death of the net predicted!"

There is a similar phenomena in American politics. Every few months there is a report about some member of the GOP openly criticizing their party or there is a report about some particular interest group grumbling about the course the party is taking or there is a report that is some variation of the other two. Each of these stories inevitably produces commentary suggesting that this is a sign that the solid GOP majority is about to collapse. In other words:

"Imminent death of the Republican coalition predicted!"

Now, I don't want to say that the coalition will never crack. I feel safe in saying that the odds of that happening are better than the death of the internet. But, as Oliver Willis puts it, "These guys stick together, and their principles have nothing to do with it. Federalism, states rights, whatever - they don't care."

The truth is that, as soon as any party member shows some signs of independent thinking, they are quickly taken back to Professor Rove's re-education camp and they soon re-emerge once again touting the greatness of the Republican cause. The GOP has gotten too enamored of the benefits of the coalition to ever risk it on such quant concepts such as ethics and responsibility and serving their fellow man.

But here is the bigger point: why should Democrats care? Do the occasional public qualms of a few shaky members of the collective add any weight to our own political arguments? Are those arguments somehow more legitimate if we can find one or two Republicans to agree with them? And isn't all this breathless anticipation of Republican crackup just another example of passive Democratic strategizing ("Let's wait for them to really step in it, then the people will vote for us!") Yeah, the people are really going to support a party that sits on its ass waiting for the other guy to fuck up.

A Democratic argument for the direction of this country should not depend on the kindness of elephantine strangers. It should depend on the strength and conviction of the Democrats who advocate for it. It is a strong Democratic position, pushed by strong Democratic leaders, that will eventually crack the Republican coalition.

And there is nothing imminent about that.


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