^ Bill Weld and Gary Johnson : leaders of one of the two parties — one localist, the other socialist — that may well replace the mortally wounded Republican party
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It isn’t hard to see that America’s political alignment has reached crisis. I’m hardly the only observer who feels that the Republican party is just about finished, or that a new political party will likely replace it. But how will that turn out ? there, observers differ big time. What follows is my own view.
First, the Democratic party. It has become the only party of serious governance. The major issues being debated by the nation were debated within it. Unions, big banks or not, trade, immigration reform, economic fairness, LGBT civil rights, justice for African Americans, reasonable gun regulation, infrastructure repair, whether or not to borrow Federal dollars : for all these, the Democratic primary offered a forum; by the 16 Republicans, hardly anything of substance — except by John Kasich and, at times, Jeb Bush, was said about any of them. Most of the 16 rejected every rational response to all.
While the Republican campaign, such as it is, even today spends all of its time trying to convict Hillary Clinton of 17,000 crimes, and offers nothing but gloom and doom, exclusion and insult, the Democratic party offers plans — detailed plans — for solving American problems. Debate could well be offered about those plans, but I hear none.
It isn’t hard to see why the Republican party has collapsed — has had every one of its surreal think tank putatives debunked by a charlatan. Though a solid minority of Republicans retains the quaint notion that governance and accommodation are what a political party does, all the dynamics in the Republican universe derives from talk show hucksterism : saying outrageous things to get attention, and bogarding fantasies, and thus win advertising dollars for one’s “talk show.”
That’s not policy, and it’s not politics.
John Kasich found that out. Kasich talked policy, and he talked moral leadership; and he talked modernization, of a party for whom time does not exist, only rant.
Researchers also tell us that young voters want nothing at all to do with rant. Or with talk shows. How could they ? Young voters are far too busy working to listen to talk shows or to read right win policy papers. For every young person who decides it’s cool to be a troll, 1000 young people ignore and then block. Hillary Clinton leads the Republican nominee almost two to one among voters under age 45. During the primary, her opponent had an even bigger margin among young voters — hardly any chose the Republican side.
For the time being, the Democratic primary will be the arena in which actual policy debates take place. This is true in the states as well as the nation. Young people, people of color, immigrants, women, and the college-educated — an ever increasing percentage, because without a college education, modern work is almost unreachable –have nowhere else to go — yet.
I doubt that this situation will continue, however. The Democratic party’s reliance upon Federal governance to solve all of our problems doesn’t square with our Constitutional system of local primacy. In the internet age we live globally but also locally. The Federal government is neither, and the tension between it and locality on the one hand and global on the other is likely to increase. A political party espousing local solutions first has legs. (John Kasich talked, realistically, about entrusting to the states several matters that people like to see handled locally, but Kssich was playing in the Republican talk show arena, not in a real political venue.)
Thus the attention now being given to the Libertarians, for whom local control is mantra.
Yet locality isn’t everything. The global is just as significant in our borderless world of money and trade, knowledge and social connectedness. Thus t.he attraction, after decades of nowhere, of a socialist politics. The left has always rejected national borders. This was its one brilliant vision. All people really are equal, with the same rights; and a politics that secures those rights only within one nation falls short, maybe immorally so.
I do not say that I adhere to the cause of new socialism. Politics is still the art of the possible, and localism seems much more possible to get to than global equity. Thus I’m far more favorable to the Libertarian view than the socialist. I do, however, expect both views to grow adherents, and in the not too distant future to replace the now purposeless Republican party as Americas’ alternatives to the Democrats’ “natural party of governance.”
This is the flash point. A political party that changed America for the much, much better, and did so for many decades, has finally reaped the ignominy of a long ignoble fall from its own ideals and its legacy of reform. These will forever stand as victories for progress; but new victories are needed, and other armies will now be fighting for them.
—- Mike Freedberg / Here and Sphere