Thursday, February 18, 2010

Which Party Will Split FIrst?

In National Review, Henry Olsen worries that the Republicans may split like the Whig Party in the 1850s. He doesn't see the present dissatisfaction with President Obama translating into Republican victory.

I see the current state of affairs as an intensification, perhaps even a culmination, of four interrelated 25-year political trends: a growing distrust of conservative and liberal ideologies, a growing movement away from the two parties and toward political independence, increases in the racial-minority (which usually means Democratic-voting) share of the population, and a growing inability of the Republican party to bridge the gap between its populist and elite wings.

Olsen sees the possibility, "the specter of a serious independent, populist presidential candidacy for the first time in a century." That's because he doesn't think the Republicans can heal the split between its populist and elite wings.

You can see the potential in Dorothy Rabinowitz's recent sneer at Sarah Palin's populism. Rabinowitz doesn't like

the unsavory echoes of her regular references to "the real America" as opposed to those shadowy "elites," now charged with threats to the life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness of all real Americans.

This from a woman who has done sterling service exposing the threats to life and liberty by the myrmidons that witch-hunted day-care providers like the Amiraults of Massachusetts. The functionaries were doing the bidding of elites enamoured with the fashionable notion of "repressed memory."

On the other hand, you could say that Palin is the likely vehicle for an independent populist candidacy, and she's a Republican. How lucky can you get?

Look. There's no telling what may happen in the next few years. It is clear that the political tides are shifting. But they may not lead to a split in the Republican Party. They may split the Democrats.

Here's Pat Caddell, once George McGovern's polling wunderkind many years ago, complaining about the Chicago politics in the Democratic Party. He's been chucked off a Democratic campaign after complaining about union thugs, according to Jon Ward in The Daily Caller.

“What I said about Andy Stern and the SEIU? Sure, they’re thugs,” said Caddell, a former adviser to President Jimmy Carter, who until Monday* had an informal advising role with the primary challenger to incumbent Democratic Sen. Michael Bennet.

Sounds to me as if Pat Caddell ain't gonna work in this town no more. But hey, he can probably make his bones as an on-air pundit, so what's the worry?

The point is that the Democrats have their troubles too. President Obama got to be president by appealing to moderates. The Democrats focused like lasers on recruiting moderate candidates to run in Republican-leaning states and districts. With President Obama governing way left, all these elected Democrats are peering ahead in the political fogs worried sick about icebergs. Evan Bayh has taken off in a lifeboat, and now it looks like Pat Caddell has taken a header off the fan-tail.

Some conservatives have already pointed the finger at Greece and its financial crisis and warned that this is how the welfare state ends. I doubt if that will happen soon, but strains in the welfare state will doubtless set off fights among passengers and crew.

You think Republicans have troubles? Democrats have them too.

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