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All They Have Left Is Fear
The Republican party used to bill itself as the party of ideas, writes Harold Meyerson in The Washington Post. Now it's just the party of ideas about being afraid -- afraid of the Democrats (which I see as the party of few coherent ideas; or, at least, few coherently expressed ideas). In Meyerson's words:

It was all so much simpler in the days when the Democrats' reservations about the war in Iraq could be depicted as revealing their irresolution in the fight against terror. Today, alas, most Americans see Iraq as the horrific sectarian conflict it has in fact become, and in a recent poll for Time magazine, 54 percent said our involvement there was actually hurting our efforts to combat terrorism. The president, though, persists in depicting the war as the front line in the war on jihadists; to admit otherwise would be to admit that those who propose redeploying some of our forces, as Democratic congressional leaders have advocated, aren't necessarily soft on bin Laden.

But the public isn't falling for the third iteration of the scare campaign -- not yet, anyway -- so the Republicans have fallen back on slime. According to a report in Sunday's Post by Jim VandeHei and Chris Cillizza, the National Republican Congressional Committee "plans to spend more than 90 percent of its $50 million-plus advertising budget on what officials described as negative ads" that attack Democratic candidates on their business dealings, legal battles and legislative votes that can be taken out of context.

What's a party to do when its high road leads nowhere but down? The Republicans tried privatizing Social Security, but their numbers never added up. They tried spreading democracy with unilateral, preventive war but instead unleashed a sectarian bloodbath. So the party of big ideas, of Milton Friedman and the neoconservatives, is now just one big Swift Boat flotilla, its ideas sunk of their own dead weight, kept afloat solely by its opposition research. For their part, the Democrats still champion common security; they call for a government that can build dikes and reduce the costs of college and medication and that knows that remaking the world becomes more plausible when some of the world is actually willing to go along with us. Those are, in the campaign of 2006, just about the only ideas in play.

At the moment, Rocky Anderson has my vote.

Posted by aalkon at September 13, 2006 12:32 PM

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"Waaah, they're running mean ads"?!

Is that all the Democratic Party has to say after the last six years?

If it is true that the GOP has nothing to offer voters but fear, then I say, "well, it's more the Dems are offering at the moment."

Because I haven't seen one Democratic campaign ad -- not one -- that says anything other than "Bush is a meanie", or makes the same claims that they complain about in this article: bashing the opponent over business dealings, legal battles and legislative votes that can be taken out of context. Go to and tell me you see anything different.

It's not enough to say why your opponent isn't fit to lead. You have to explain why you are fit to lead. Until the Dems figure that out, they're going to keep losing to buffoons like George W. Bush.

There's a lot of disgruntled conservatives and moderates right now, but the Dems aren't courting them. I'd be surprised if they make any meaningful gains this fall.

Election 2006: The Party of Bad Ideas vs The Party of No Ideas. And both of them sitting around wondering why voter turnout is low.

Posted by: Gary S. at September 13, 2006 7:42 PM

That's true Gary, but the 2-party system is still a blessing. If the Christian Party or the American Islam Alliance takes a third of the prize in November, we got a problem. There's something to be said about a country that runs this well when people don't need to pay attention.

Posted by: Crid at September 13, 2006 10:00 PM

The problem with any party system is the politicians become more concerened with gaining and maintaining power for the party to ensure campaign funds as opposed to doing their goddamn jobs and running the country.

If paries were done away with people would be forced to judge each and every canidate on their merits as opposed to the party they are affiliated with.

And as far as republicans go, it always amuses me how they cliam democrates have lot their way and strayed from the ideals they once climed to uphold.

This coming from idiots who believe their party stands for smaller government, fiscal reponsibility, less government intrusion into private life, and moral leadership.

what. a. fucking. joke.

Posted by: lujlp at September 14, 2006 3:32 AM

> doing their goddamn jobs and
> running the country

America can run itself. Government is paid to perform certain services for a price. "Public service" is what they call it. Folks tend to fall on a line between conservative and liberal, so it makes sense for the parties to claim positions on it as well.

Posted by: Crid at September 14, 2006 7:17 AM

>>There's something to be said about a country that runs this well when people don't need to pay attention.

Maybe, but I can't help but think of how much better it could be run if anyone were paying attention. Is that so much to ask?

And to put a bow on this topic: maybe, just maybe, this is how our system of government is supposed to work. The founding fathers, in their infinite wisdom, created a system that wouldn't allow anyone to keep power for long, due to power's tendency to corrupt.

And I think that's what we're seeing with the Republican Party. They were out of power for a long time, before putting together a package that would appeal to voters, full of noble ideas like a balanced budget, legal reform, term limits, repealing disincentives to marriage and adoption, and other common-sense things everybody always says they want.

And, as luljp suggests, the GOP has become the out-of-touch, deficit-spending political monster it used to rail against. One of these years, the Democratic Party is going to pull its head out of its collective ass, court voters, and regain power. Then they'll keep it for awhile, then they'll slowly grow arrogant and hubristic again, and the great cycle of American political life will repeat.

So maybe our current two-party system is a kind of natural ebb and flow. Bad Party gets out of control, Good Party makes grand promises, Good Party gains power, Good party does well for awhile, Good Party slowly becomes Bad Party, lather, rinse, repeat.

Posted by: Gary S. at September 14, 2006 10:43 PM

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