On the way from Warm Springs to Atlanta today (part of our nation-spanning tour prior to our move to Canada -- see Crawling From the USA for more on this), we were listening to NPR and caught an excellent interview with Paul Krugman, a columnist for the New York Times and self-proclaimed liberal who has written a book mirroring Barry Goldwater's "The Conscience of a Conservative" (a highly-recommended tome that many of today's so-called Republicans would do well to read!) called "The Conscience of a Liberal."
In the interview, Krugman tells millions of people on the radio what I've been saying is wrong with this country for the last 25 years:
Krugman says that the economic inequality in the United States is the direct, intended result of programs Republicans brought to government, starting with the election of Ronald Reagan in 1980.This is precisely the conclusion I came to myself, and it felt wonderful to hear someone else who understands not only what the Republicans are doing to this country, but how they are getting away with it (ie "well why then do middle-class and poor people often vote for policies that are against their self-interest?"). As Krugman says:
"Since the 1970s, the conservative movement that took over the Republican Party has systematically set out … to dismantle all of the institutions created by Franklin D. Roosevelt and the New Deal to make this a more equal society," such as unions, progressive taxation and the minimum wage, Krugman says.
There are, however, deeper forces undermining the political tactics movement conservatives have used since Ronald Reagan ran for governor of California. Crucially, the American electorate is, to put it bluntly, becoming less white. Republican strategists try to draw a distinction between African Americans and the Hispanic and Asian voters who play a gradually growing role in elections — but as the debate over immigration showed, that's not a distinction the white backlash voters the modern GOP depends on are prepared to make. A less crude factor is the progressive shift in Americans' attitudes: Polling suggests that the electorate has moved significantly to the left on domestic issues since the 1990s, and race is a diminishing force in a nation that is, truly, becoming steadily less racist.Just as in the stock market, you can have a bubble of unreality that can actually last quite a while (if managed properly), but eventually the market "corrects" and returns to a level of reality. This "bubble" theory apparently applies to political movements as well, and it seems clear that the movement conservatives aren't going to be able to squeak out a last hurrah but will instead implode whimpering.
What the Democrats do with this upcoming golden opportunity is entirely up to them, and will make or break them for a generation. I'm the first to say that they are well-known for snatching defeat from the jaws of victory, but you have to hope that either they grow a spine and use their forthcoming majority wisely, or that a real third party will emerge that actually intends to govern constitutionally and without all the childishness we've seen from Washington for far too long.