Will The 2008 Election Be The Perfect Storm for Democrats?
With the Bush Presidency ascending into the abyss dragging the Republican party with it can the Democrats despite themselves make electoral gains equal to the historic outcome of the 1932 election? Steve Fraser writing in todays Asia Times believes it will happen. Fraser points to the election of Richard Nixon in 1968 as the triumph of the emerging Republican majority over New Deal politics using a strategy employed by Kevin Phillips which has become known as the Southern strategy as an historical moment in elective politics. Kevin Phillips speaking to the New York times in 1970 about this political philosophy.
From now on, the Republicans are never going to get more than 10 to 20 percent of the Negro vote and they don't need any more than that... but Republicans would be shortsighted if they weakened enforcement of the Voting Rights Act. The more Negroes who register as Democrats in the South, the sooner the Negrophobe whites will quit the Democrats and become Republicans. That's where the votes are. Without that prodding from the blacks, the whites will backslide into their old comfortable arrangement with the local Democrats."
Indeed it was as witnessed by Mr. Phillips statement: That the Republican party was a party of racists and would used that racism as means of keeping its new found political power.
Fast forward to 1980 and the election of Ronald Reagen as President of the United States. With David Stockman as his Budget Director Reaganomics would be foisted upon the American people as cure for its economic malaise. It set in motion an era: In which deregulation of industry, lower taxes for the wealthy and the mantra for smaller government would become a template for the Republican party. Policies which would set the basis for the Presidency of George W. Bush. The Bush administration adhered too two of those polices with a vengeance: Lower taxes for the wealthy and a complete disregard for government regulation of industry. Its failure? The U.S. government has at least doubled in size under George Bush.
George Bush's other success? A return to the politics of fear. Which he and his administration used quite effectively in not only maintaining its grip on political power but to control the media and to silence any and all critics by smearing them as: Weak on national defense, don't support the troops and unwilling to help in the Global War On Terror. Are the politics of fear still effective?
In fact, the politics of fear may now be operating in reverse. The chronic belligerence of the George W Bush administration, especially in the last year with respect to Iran, and the cartoonish saber-rattling of Republican presidential candidates (whether genuine or because they believe themselves captives of the Bush legacy) is scary. Its only promise seems to be endless war for purposes few understand or are ready to salute. To paraphrase Franklin Delano Roosevelt, for many people now, the only thing to fear is the politics of fear itself.
While the American public seem to have left the politics of fear behind the leadership of the Democratic party continues to live in fear of a failed president and his policies.
As the writer points out the failures of Republicans are all encompassing.
"The constitutional transgressions of the executive branch and its abrogation of the powers reserved to the other two branches of government are, by now, reasonably well known. Most of this aggressive over-reaching has been encouraged by the imperial hubris exemplified by the invasion of Iraq."
Criticizing these assaults on the U.S. Constitution haven't just come from the left. Bruce Fein a former official in the Reagen Administration and Bob Barr former Republican Congressman from Georgia who led the impeachment fight against President Clinton have come out against their circumventing of the Constitution and they aren't the only ones.
For the Republicans there is one area they should fear the most: The economy. I'm economist or financial wizard for that matter but the effects of the sub-prime loan crisis and the fact that it isn't just effecting the housing industry and its subsidiary businesses those effects are reaching into places like commodity markets (oil), currency valuations, consumer prices just to name a few which will exacerbate the economies overall weakness not today or tomorrow but six months or a year from now when the full effects of these bad polices will have a staggering blow on the nations economy.
Enronization as normal life
Once upon a time, all through the 19th century, financial panics - often precipitating more widespread economic slumps - were a commonly accepted, if dreaded, part of "normal" economic life. Then the crash of 1929, followed by the New Deal Keynesian regulatory state called into being to prevent its recurrence, made these cyclical extremes rare.
Beginning with the stock market crash of 1987, however, they have become ever more common again, most notoriously - until now, that is - with the dot.com implosion of 2000 and the Enronization that followed. Enron seems like only yesterday because, in fact, it was only yesterday, which strongly suggests that the financial sector is now increasingly out of control. At least three factors lurk behind this new reality.
As stated previously the Reagen revolution was the impetuous for what has befallen America under the Bush Presidency. An era in which authoritarian values and precepts have become the rule rather than the exception. Where the Constitution, the very foundation upon which America was founded and built has been thrown into the trash heap of history.
Is this election year a perfect storm for the Democrats? Yes, they just have to seize the day even if its only by its shoe strings.