Bush took the Republican Party way up and also took it way down.
And Barack Obama appears to be replicating that pattern. Both the 2010 midterms (historic losses of U.S. House and state legislative seats for Democrats) and the 2012 presidential election (Obama is the first to win re-election with fewer votes than in his first victory) show signs of putting Democrats in the same fractured place that Republicans were in post-Bush.
“Both parties have problems,” says James Campbell, a distinguished professor of political science at the University of Buffalo. “The Democrats have become too emboldened and the Republicans are too internally divided.”
I’m not sure “emboldened” is the right word to describe today’s Democrats. These aren’t the heady days of Obama’s first two years, with Dodd-Frank and ObamaCare and the Stimulus and hopes of imposing cap’n’trade. At this early date, I’d wager the Democrats fail to net even half the seats they need to win back the House in ’14.
But “divided” certainly describes the Republicans. Last week’s Senate sideshow being the case in point. I’m not referring to Rand Paul’s epic filibuster (although one of my respected PJ colleagues wasn’t so enamored.) No, I mean former GOP presidential candidate John McCain and MSM-regular Lindsey Graham putting on their epic hissy fit the very next day. The Tea Party is finally making itself well and truly felt in the Senate, and the oldsters don’t like it one bit. We’re witnessing the beginning of the beginning. Remember, too, that it was in Bush’s six year, 2006, that the Democrats made near-historic gains to win the House, Senate, and just about everything else nation- and statewide. The GOP has no hopes of repeating that in ’14, no matter how unpopular Obama becomes in the next 18 months.
It’s usually about now that a strong third party comes along, but the Two Party System may be too well entrenched for that to happen. And then the Libertarian Party, where my heart lies, is too batshit crazy to be able to take advantage of what could be a once-in-history moment for it to shine.
American politics are a mess, because the American polity is a mess of competing factions, each addicted in one way or another to the public trough. It’s the inevitable result of a virtually unlimited government. The Founders warned us; we didn’t listen.