Political Tides Turn
I had occasion to stumble on a post from the OTB archives, “Democrats Threaten to Filibuster Unnamed Court Nominee,” written on September 25, 2005. What’s interesting in hindsight is how fundamentally the landscape has changed. Not only is it Republicans now about to be in a position to try to avert a person they deem too ideological from getting on the Supreme Court but the general situation the two parties occupy have almost flipped. Here’s part of my analysis:
The notion that the Democrats need to make a stand or risk losing their base is a recipe for continued minority status. Kevin Drum makes the case in a lengthy post, which I commend to my readers. He points out E. J. Dionne’s latest column which notes, “According to the network exit polls, 21 percent of the voters who cast ballots in 2004 called themselves liberal, 34 percent said they were conservative and 45 percent called themselves moderate.”
Now, unlike Kevin, I don’t want this to change. But the country needs two viable parties to maintain a healthy political system. Without constant fear of losing the next election, a party becomes lazy, if not corrupt. It happened to the Democrats not so long ago and there are too many signs that it’s happening to the GOP now.
For the Democrats to be a viable alternative, though, they need leaders who are more representative of the mainstream of their own party—much less the American electorate— than Howard Dean or Nancy Pelosi. Even rank and file Democrats think they’re shrill and unsteady.
Less than fourteen months later, the Democrats had re-taken both the House and the Senate. Two years after that, the Republicans had lost the White House and genuinely seem to be a party in the wilderness.
The liberal/conservative/moderate numbers, however, haven’t changed much. While I don’t see a lot of great Republican candidates on the horizon, there’s every reason to think that the current situation is anything but permanent.