Friday, January 18, 2008
Personal Aside: The Chaos in Springfield is a Variant of the Chaos in Grant Park that Convinced Many the Democrats Could Not Govern. The Question is: Will this Happen to Illinois Democrats? It Might.
National Democratic Party Chaos.
Some certainly not all readers of this website have been kind enough to express great interest in the memories I supply concerning the internecine battle of two men I knew well who vied for presidentmen from the same stateHubert Humphrey and Eugene McCarthy. Though this happened almost 40 years ago, the tumult that radicalized the Democratic party convinced many voters some who are still around even today that the Democratic party was unable to govern.
So turned off were certain factions that had sworn loyalty to the Democratic party segments of blue-collars, labor (organized and unorganized), lesser educated, average working people that the history of the country changed accordingly. In 1968 one of the most unattractive and ungainly of men ill-at-ease, insecure, a man who disliked people in the aggregate was elected president by 43.4% to Humphreys 42.7% with George Wallace getting 13.5%. So climatic was that election that it started a realignment of the South, with Nixonby 1972 a crook and malevolent but nonetheless a cockeyed genius who had had the insight to go to Chinawinning over the inheritor of the McCarthy peace tradition, George McGovern by a whopping margin of 61% to 38%.
Thanks to Watergate, the Jimmy Carter election was a brief interregnum that was indecisive and didnt forestall the continuing realignment, Carter 50%, Gerald Ford 48%. Carters continuation of what for all practical purposes was the McGovern-McCarthy peace-in-our-time policy led to an abortive SALT II wherein Carter exclaimed that too many people were over-concerned with communism, a residue of McGovernism. The treaty fell of its own weight and was not even voted on by the Senate because the Soviets invaded Afghanistan. This was followed by the Carter administrations weak-willed response to the taking of American hostages in Iran. The conservative Republican trend was renewed with the election of Ronald Reagan (51%) to Carter (41%) and John Andersons 7%.
And reaffirmed by Reagans reelection 59% to Walter Mondales 47% where Mondale followed the McGovern foreign policy line, complete with nuclear freeze and a call for higher taxes. George H.W. Bush beat Mike Dukakis, who had adopted the McGovern foreign and domestic policies who refused on television to respond to an incendiary question as to how he would react if his own wife were raped and murdered, 54% to 46%. After Bush reneged on his read-my-lips pledge on taxes and took a path different from Reagan, he lost to Bill Clinton but even here by a very slight margin due to Ross Perots 19% tally that no one denied came from largely conservative votes: Clinton 43%, Bush 37%, Perot 19%. And the most lackluster candidate of modern times, Bob Dole, equaled only by fellow Kansan Alf Landon lost to Clinton who still hadnt been able to get more than 50%: Clinton 49.2%, Dole 40.7%, Perot 8.4%.
Thenceforward, George W. Bush got 48% to Al Gores 48.5%, Ralph Naders 2.7%, Pat Buchanans 0.4% and the Libertarian partys Harry Brownes 0.4%., the decision reaching the U. S. Supreme Court. Did the Democrats learn the next time? Nope. They nominated another McGovernite, John Kerry and the results were Bush 51%, Kerry 48%, Nader 1%. Now with all the attendant problems of incumbency, a war and fading economy, it appears that the Democrats have not learned their lesson and are hell-bent on nominating a McGovernite candidate, Barack Obama. When will they learn?
The answer is they wont. As one who has voted for Democrats in two states, I only wish that party would be able to kick the deadly disease of McGovernism spawned 40 years ago so that the country could enjoy two vibrant parties. The prospect of Barack Obama becoming president with all his wispy rhetoric that beclouds a far-left philosophy can only bring the nation illbut also a realignment with a vengeance after he leaves office.
Even now, the Republican lineup, barring the lanky, cranky doctor from Texas who wants to repeal the Food and Drug Administration, is infinitely superior to the Democratic phalanx. The cycle demands a change of party, howeverand whether that cycle can be deterred by rationality as voters perceive change from the very fragile young man from Hawaii who is aided by a media compromised by, as Brian Williams has admitted, a seeming inability to be objective when the Democratic candidate is black (or semi-black) is anyones guess. Since Williams missed the civil rights era he wants to play catch up emotionally the only way he can by feeling good as he slants his stuff pro-Obama. But of this there can be no doubt: due to the errors committed in 1968errors that now have invaded its bloodstream--, the Democratic party has been rendered valueless as an instrument of responsible change.
Illinois and Local Democratic Chaos.
I dont have to remind readers of the similar chaos that has overtaken the Illinois Democratic party where the governor may well become a case history to be studied by those who believe he has substituted media sound bites for governance. But it is far more than he. The Democratic leaders of both Houses have not been able to supply the grist and muscle needed to tame him. On the Cook county level, similar chaos born of racial politics has subordinated governance to whim and whimsy.
To those who wring their hands about the bankruptcy of the Illinois Republican party I have no answer except to say that this party is bound to repudiate the Combine-accommodationism that was spawned by the cynical Big Jim Thompson and his followers culminating in the moral squalor of George Ryan. If for no other reason than perhaps the secretary of the treasury, a man of great wealth, might decide to run for governor, there is every reason to hope that things will be better because the nature of the GOP is not corrupted by racial or gender politics and McGovernism. It is my belief that the travesty that is happening in Springfield and in the county building here should spur voters to become imbued with the idea of building a strong counter to the decadence.
What do you think?