Robin Goodfellow provides a rather detailed explanation for why he feels we will see a radical poltical re-alignment by 2010. His piece is worth reading in its entirety, but his thesis is that, while two party systems tend to find a centrist equilibrium, right now both parties are grossly out of synch with the general public which, in Goodfellow’s view, is libertarian:

I predict that by 2010 the big political issues will be drug legalization, gun rights / control, big government vs. (truly) small government (with the difference in proposed sizes being in the neighborhood of a factor of 2, if not more, and a similarly dramatic difference in proposed levels of government power and regulation), public vs. private services (especially K-12 schools), and probably a renewed debate on immigration (namely, how much we should allow). That’s just a guess, but I am very confident that a major “axis shift” is in the works. It’s bound to be quite interesting times politically for the next few years.

While I share his desire for most of these things, this is just wishful thinking on his part. There is zero evidence that the public at large is libertarian, let alone that it will suddenly get energized to make this coup happen. Indeed, all indications are that we libertarians are in the vast minority: the public consistently votes for politicians who promise to give them free stuff and constantly demands more and more governmental action for even the most minor public policy matters. Witness the current spate of legislation to stop e-mail spamming and telemarketing.

While I hate it, most Americans want government to be much, much bigger even than it is now. Socialized medicine, for example, is almost upon us; we’re just doing it in baby steps rather than one giant one. While I predict we’ll eventually liberalize our laws on matters of sexuality, I do not see the day of widespread drug legalization any time soon. I’d like to see it, but there is virtually no momentum in that direction, save for maybe medical marijuana. “The era of big government is over” was just one of the lies Bill Clinton told us.

(Hat tip: Bill Quick)

FILED UNDER: US Politics, , , , , , ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm veteran. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.


  1. 42nd SSD says:

    I think most of your points are spot-on, but I’m a bit more optimistic in terms of drug legalization. (I hasten to point out that I’m not a drug user nor would I encourage others to do so.)

    Far too many people have (apparently without permanent harm) tried marijuana and currently use it to continue the farce of keeping it illegal. At some point it’s going to become too obvious that its illegal status is just a way for the cops to get their cut, and making it legal for medical use will be the “entering wedge” towards full legalization.

    I’d hate to say when, however, and I would guess that it won’t be less than 5 years and probably more like 10. Another generation, certainly; this is the era when college kids are selling crack and meth out of their dorm rooms, and someday they’ll be in power…

  2. David Ross says:

    Another issue that is bound to come up is “diversity”: namely, support for unrestricted immigration plus identity politics. When (not if) bombs start going off in Corpus Christi, Los Angeles, and Santa Fe, it’ll be interesting to see how the major parties react.

  3. M says:

    David,Grey Davis’ reaction to the energy crisis plus the federal responce to 9/11 show us how they will react:

    1)there is no crisis
    2)there’s a problem.but no crisis
    4)complete over-reaction to crisis
    5)”it’s not OUR fault,it’s their fault”

    the first time a bomb,or worse a suicde bomber detonates in a daycare center,it will get very ugly here.Not to mention emerging pandemics that will hit here sooner rather than later.