I want to suggest to the many bloggers celebrating the end of eight years of Bush doctrine that they might set their sights a bit higher. The conditions that enabled the Bush era to come into being and made it look very attractive to a majority of voters began with Ronald Reagan and GHWB. That adds up not to eight years but twenty. To be sure, we had eight years of Clinton as something of an intermission, but it’s well to recall that his own personal style encouraged the sort of wild, speculative risk taking that, in the end, proved to be the one added ingredient needed for certain disaster. It’s going to take some time to get this mess straightened out, and part of that straightening has to do with a realignment of the Republican Party.
You might remember that Ralph Nader used to complain that there was no real difference between Republicans and Democrats, and that Americans deserved a better more clearly defined choice than that. He was wrong. When one majority party becomes and agent of the fringe it ceases to be effective as the loyal opposition to the other. The political fringe has its place. From the fringe we are made aware of our greatest weaknesses and most imminent threats. From the fringe we are introduced to our greatest opportunities and most imaginative solutions. But the political fringe is always divisive and often a source of real danger to our society. The Republican Party has been steadily drifting toward the fringe of autocratic nationalism and corporate socialism.
Either that has to change, or a new “conservative” party must emerge that is more able to operate toward the center, because it is only from a place near the center that the loyal opposition can effectively challenge policies they see as unwise.