Tuesday, February 11, 2003

Is the Democratic Party inherently doomed? I just finished reading Hunter Thompson''s account of the '72 Presidential Race alluded to here earlier. Near the end he comments on why he didn't think any Democratic candidate could have beaten Nixon given the way things were that year (although he admits there could have been a better showing by another candidate). Then he makes a very interesting observation. He says that it wasn't so much the Party's ideals that cost it the victory (although he foresaw the death of Kennedy liberalism), but the people running the party. He said since the power base rested in the hands of those that resembled Mayor Daley from Chicago and other party hacks, they wouldn't have been able to mount the kind of challenge to Nixon that was required. Why? Because they too closely resembled that which they were seeking to replace, and in the period of unrest that existed in '72, people figured they'd go with the devil they knew as opposed to the devil they didn't.

This then raised an interesting question in my mind. If we accept, for purposes of argument that the GOP platform is "[personal] greed is good" (meaning more for us, less for the government), then a politician is, by nature, perfectly in line with that role (no one would argue that politicians aren't greedy - for power, approval or money). However, if we also accept that the Democrats say that "[personal] greed is bad" (meaning more for the government, and hence more hand-outs and wealth re-distribution), then you have a politician who is by nature, greedy and vain (give me votes because I'm the best!; let me spend your money on things I like) who has to pretend to be something other than what he is. The Democrats, then, have the handicap of having to do their job while maintaining that they're out for your best interests. It's much easier for the GOP politicians to simply say, no taxes, more income, than for the Democrats who have to justify more taxes with byzantine programs to spend the tax money on. Anyway, it's just a working hypothesis.

As an aside, I was finishing Thompson's book whilst sitting next to a fellow who was halfway through Peggy Noonan's "When Character Was King", her ode to Reagan. That's called juxtaposition.

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