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Politics Abhors a Vacuum


I enter every election cycle fearing the worst and exit hoping for the best. This year was no different.

I fear the worst because I have a deep mistrust of what our political system has become. I’ve seen the hideous machinations of modern day politics from the inside, as a rising-star staffer in state politics whose fortunes sank the day I refused to carry water for a party candidate I believed to be a fraud. Now, as an outsider, I pay close attention to political goings on, looking for the nuanced statements and barely visible strings that hint at underlying motivations. I didn’t like what I saw then and I don’t like what I see today.

I hope for the best because I believe in the maxim that, in politics, ascension to power results in moderation. Candidates play hard to the masses with bold statement and big promises to get elected, then dither their time away once in office for fear of making a wrong move and suffering a drop on the approv-o-meter. Most incumbents, especially those in the majority, are risk averse, prefering to let their opponents make the mistakes.

America’s 19th president, Rutherford B. Hayes, put it this way:

We are in a period when old questions are settled and the new are not yet brought forward. Extreme party action, if continued in such a time, would ruin the party. Moderation is its only chance. The party out of power gains by all partisan conduct of those in power.

The failure of the Republicans to hold power in the House and Senate proves this point. They engaged in “extreme party action,” and paid the price on November 7. Now, and in spite of all the heartfelt proclamations of the Democrats, it’s just a matter of time before partisan lust for retribution gets the better of them, too.

Don’t believe me?

In a story by MSNBC’s Tom Curry, New York Senator, Charles Schumer, offers little hope that the barking Democrat dog has any idea what to do now that it has caught the car.

Schumer is quoted in the article as saying, “We have to create a vision, a platform, a program, that aims at the average person and the average family and shows them that we can do some good to help make their lives better. If we’re successful, in 2008 we’ll help close the deal.”

If we’re successful? How comforting. In other words, the Democrats have no idea what they are doing, but hope to have it figured out in a couple years.

As in nature, politics abhors a vacuum, and thus it is with confidence I predict that, while Democrats Schumer, House Speaker-in-waiting

Nancy Pelosi and others put their noggins together to come up with their plans for middle America, even more radical elements in the party will be hard at work putting their agenda into action – and the middle may be, er, left out.

That agenda, consisting of social and economic reforms, will be a deliberately sharp rejoinder to the conservative movement of the last six years – a comeuppance if you will – meant to correct every perceived injustice foist upon them. For every Faith Based Initiative created and conservative Supreme Court justice appointed under the Bush Administration, there’s going to be an entitlement and social engineering program put forth.

The left is already clamoring for a hike in minimum wage to as high as $12.50 an hour, socialized medicine, and other reparations. And before anyone blanches at my citation of the Socialist Alternative, remember that it is the Democrats who have embraced Vermont’s Socialist Senator-elect Bernie Sanders, and that it is Sanders who has, for nearly a decade, presided over a leftist caucus of more than 50 “progressive” Democrats.

It’s political tit for tat. The New Republic has already offered its partisan plan for revenge, daring the president to veto bill after bill America can’t afford for the sole purpose of propelling the Democratic party’s eventual nominee into the Oval Office in 2008. They’ll do it by using those vetoes to show that the GOP is the enemy of common folk – poor souls who need just one more federal handout to achieve the American dream.

Mind you, the Republicans are only getting what they deserve. Six years of tin-eared governance, bureaucratic bloat, and runaway pork-barrel spending had to come at a price. But if Capitol Hill devolves into the mess I believe it will, it only proves that the two ruling parties in America are more concerned with perpetuating their collective grip on political power than they are with doing what is best for the country.

And until We the People find the strength to rally, in number, behind other alternatives, things will only get worse. But where will those alternatives come from?

The Reform Party made a valiant run during 1992 and 1996, but rather than build on that comparatively strong start, the party revealed itself to be little more than a monument to ego and folded its tent when their main man – H. Ross Perot – took his checkbook and went home. The Green Party has admirable energy and ambition – my editor says: look at San Francisco’s local politics – and do an excellent job of putting articulate candidates on the ballot, but their upside is limited by a platform that plays ultra-left.

My own Libertarian Party gets marginalized into decimal numbers when the election results are tallied thanks to the perception that it is nothing more than a haven for dope-smoking, anarchist gun nuts. Yet a serious discussion of core Libertarian values – less government, lower taxes, personal responsibility – gets most heads nodding in agreement. Heck, in 2002 more than 45 percent of voters in Massachusetts of all places agreed with the Libertarian proposal to end the state’s income tax.

If that’s not a sign of latent voter angst, I don’t know what is.

Share  Posted by Mike Spinney at 7:00 AM | Permalink

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