Sunday, March 21, 2004

“Liberal Disunity”

The post about libertarians got me thinking about party unity. It is a common refrain among liberals that we are never as united as conservatives. For some intrinsic reason, the thinking goes, liberal constituent groups fight each other harder and force Democratic candidates to bend over backwards more to prove their faith. While I agree that liberal voting groups have tended to ask more from their candidates than conservatives, I disagree that this somehow stems from the liberal philosophy. Rather, it has to do with the curse of holding political power.

From 1932 to 1980 the Democrats controlled the Senate for 44 of the 48 years. They’ve held the House of Representatives for at least 60 of the last 70 years. They’ve held the presidency about half the time in the past 50 years. To sum up, the Democrats have been very successful. This has been a blessing for the democratic constituents, and of course, America as a whole, but it left Democrats in the awkward position only making promises they can keep. Republicans on the other hand could point to the democratic controlled congress and promise the moon.

Allow me to demonstrate: Republican candidates were able to promise the evangelicals that they would “support individual teachers’ right to teach creation science” and urge congress to “withhold appellate jurisdiction of the Supreme Court in such cases involving abortion, religious freedom”; then run across town and promise the federalists that they plan on “gradually phasing out the Social Security tax”; then meet with the libertarians and promise to abolish “the Environmental Protection Agency, the Departments of Energy, Housing and Urban Development, Health and Human Services, Education, Commerce and Labor” and repeal the ‘Sixteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution” (meaning no federal income tax); then meet with the rightwing tin-foil hat anarcho-libertarians and promise to “[return] to the gold standard” and “call on Congress to abolish [the Federal Reserve Board]”.

Certainly, regular Republican’s don’t believe all these things. Surely, I unfairly raided the internet for dichotomous promises made by extremist Republicans, right? Well, in fact all the quotes in the above paragraph come from the same source: the 2000 Texas Republican Party Platform. Every Texan Republican candidate signed it, including Tom Delay: Master of Congress, (I’m not too sure about Bush, but I imagine the 1996 one isn’t much different).

I imagine that a majority of Texan Republicans would disagree with most of the quotes but it probably doesn’t irk them much. They know that when the Republican Party publishes things like “visitation with minor children by [homosexuals] should be limited to supervised periods” they are only saying this to get a few wing-nuts to vote for them. I’m sure every Republican thinks that the “real” views held by the Republican Party leadership are pretty close to their own. For most reasonable people, they could very well be right. But it begs the question: while the Republicans were out of power how could they have been proven wrong? I don’t think the Republican congress going to suddenly move us back to the gold standard, but the mad scramble to replace the votes lost to disenchanted right-wingers may explain the unprecedented amounts of political pork we’ve seen lately.


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