No matter what anybody says about the two parties being “no different”: they are. The GOP doesn’t care how deep in the mud they have to get to win. Race-baiting ads and dog-whistle code words have been standard practice since David Gergen and Roger Ailes kicked off Nixon’s Southern Strategy. Reagan had his Welfare Queen and Strapping Young Buck, GHW Bush had Willie Horton. The list goes on and on. (McCain and Romney were arguably more principled — and lost. The lesson for the GOP wasn’t, “Improve your product.” It was, “Whatever it takes.”)
The difference between the parties comes down to two things, I believe:
- Democrats want to win on the merits; Republicans want to win.
- Democrats want to govern; Republicans want to rule.
The second point shows why the first is so important. We ignore the difference between “govern” and “rule” at our peril.
2 thoughts on “Party Differences”
I’ve had it with party labels; maybe I’ve had it with both American political parties. As a party, I don’t think the Democrats have that much to hold themselves up above the Republicans. And, their continued ineptness in mastering the channels of modern communication is maddening. I’ve been thinking that if the Democrats really want to break out and own the lead position, they (we) have to go hard left. It’s time to leave petty nationalism. We need to save not just the USA, but the planet with a Green New Deal built upon an environmentally sustainable and planet healing infrastructure, all funded by unapologetic wealth redistributing taxes. But, as we stagger to the 2020 general election, too many of us are going to be content, maybe even ecstatic, with just getting the Orange Clown and his circus of corruption and hate out of the White House.
I acknowledge the Democrats’ reputation for fecklessness is sometimes well-deserved. But I also think there is another way to look at it, and it’s implicit in what I said both about winning, and about governing.
Yes, Democrats cave far too often and far too easily; they are also looking at the big picture. Think, for example, about the debt ceiling. The consequences of not raising it are catastrophic, and global. Both parties know this; but the current majority leader has said, publicly, that the full faith and credit of the United States is a hostage worth taking if it serves his political ends. Let that sink in. Now show me a Democrat who would pull the same sordid stunt. You can’t.
There are fundamental differences; too often they are obscured by the gridlock and the resulting frustration we all feel manifests as this variation on, A pox on both your houses. Let’s keep our eye on the ball, shall we. Politics is the art of the possible; but it’s only possible on a level playing field where all parties are operating in good faith and by the same set of rules. The GOP discarded good faith when Gingrich seized the speakership (if not before). The only way to fix it is to send them back to the wilderness for another forty years.