Roger L. Simon

Democrats on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown

I was amused to read the following from Mark Halperin in Time magazine last week: “Is it hyperbolic to say the Democratic Party is in the midst of a nervous breakdown?”

I immediately flashed on Pedro Almodovar’s now classic Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown (Mujeres al bordo de un ataque de nervios) in which a woman’s lover leaves her, and she tries to contact him to find out why he’s left.

In this case the lover would be the American public, which appears to be deserting the Democratic Party in droves. But the Democratic Party doesn’t seem to want to contact them. It’s only gotten worse since the election — and that was bad enough. We now have Harry Reid flagrantly acting like the corrupt padrone he is, making sure his famiglia in the casinos is taken care of. (Note to Sarah Palin: Please stop supporting candidates who are obviously incompetent to hold office, as you did in Nevada. All this accomplishes is six more years of Reid. And it doesn’t reflect well on you either.)

But back to Halperin. His actual explanation for the ataque de nervios is clueless, or should I say reified? Try as he may, he can’t get outside his traditional mindset:

Democrats are understandably — and largely justified in being — frustrated that they lost an election based on Republicans defending tax cuts for the wealthy that are only expiring because of a budget gimmick championed by George Bush — and based on criticism of their apparent lack of concern over the deficit, by a party that has shown no past or current seriousness about deficit reduction and the hard choices involved. Losing those political fights was as inexplicable as it was hard for the Democrats. Maybe that’s why Thursday seemed to have donkeys melting down all over the place.

Largely justified?! Oh, I see. It’s about George Bush again. Eureka! Never mind that all those tea party demonstrators — you know, the ones that just helped elect the new Congress — were more than willing to criticize Bush spending policies as well. They were a mirage (or, I forgot, racists).

No, like a good Time mag boy, Halperin is simply kicking the can down the road, when the reasons for the Democratic breakdown are infinitely more serious, starting with this little tidbit — Keynesian economics is dead. Giving away money as the route to political success or attempted social justice just isn’t going to work anymore, because there isn’t any money to give away. And it’s only going to get worse as the population ages. The whole justification for the Democratic Party — the welfare state — is one giant Ponzi scheme that makes Madoff seem like a piker.

And everybody knows it. All across the world, from Portugal to Japan, the system is in free fall. And the only thing that could possibly save it (and even that may not be able to ) is the free market, because the bigger things are, the less socialism (hard or soft) is likely to succeed. In fact, its principles, like them or not, only lead us, slowly or quickly, back to the old Soviet Union.

Talk about reasons for an ataque de nervios. How about a full bore psychotic break?

The Democratic Party will have to reinvent itself or become a major instrument of American, even global, decline.