A Democrat Restoration?
Twelve years in the congressional minority failed to make a dent in the Democrats' core belief that the universe is unfolding as it should, only when they are in power. They don't bother to argue that their victory in 2006 marks a return to Democrat domination of national politics. They assume it, and they are fated to be disappointed.
Both the Stuarts and the Bourbons enjoyed a restoration. Neither restoration marked a return to the political and social arrangements of the past. Medieval monarchism died in England with Charles I and in France with Louis XVI. The restorations in both England and France were never more than echoes of an old world that had disappeared. Before long the echoes died away.
Similarly, the Democrats' victory in 2006 is an echo of times long past, not a sign of things to come. Democrats came into the election as a dying party, devoid of any ideas they could sell to the electorate and deeply divided. They haven't changed.
Victory will make them feel better the same way that morphine eases a terminal patient's pain. But like morphine, victory won't change the long—term prognosis and it may even push the patient over the edge.
The Democrats' life—threatening disease is a cancer of the left. Their core constituency consists of extremists who repel the overwhelming majority of American voters. Much as Democrats try to balance the game with hysterical assaults on "the religious right," Republicans have no analogous political problem.
American politics has never been the battle between left an right that most observers imagine it to be. Ours was a liberal nation at its founding and it remains so today. No major political party has ever stepped out of that tradition toward the right. European blood and soil conservatism has no place here; our politics has no scary right wing, despite the fervid imaginations of some on the left.
But we do have a left wing which has rejected the American liberal tradition. In a bizarre example of newspeak we call the enthusiastic supporters of that wing "liberals." They are, in fact, bitterly disappointed socialist/collectivists. The 20th Century put paid to their utopian dreams and left them with no positive vision to pursue. After Stalin, Mao, Castro, Pol Pot, et al., collectivism just won't sell in the U.S.
Unfortunately collectivists haven't given up politics. Instead they use politics to commit cultural vandalism, doing what they can to destroy the civilization that spoiled their dream.
The real battle lines in American politics are drawn between the socialist vandals and people who see a fragile civilization under attack and try to defend it. The great bulk of the American electorate occupies the no man's land between these camps and tries to avoid giving offense on either side. Americans value our civilization and its liberal tradition but most of them have no idea how fragile those things are and barely an inkling that they are under attack.
The Democrats are in an untenable political position because most of their votes come from Americans who want to protect and preserve our civilization, while their intellectual and financial support comes principally from people who want to destroy it. This coalition can't last. The effort to keep all their constituent parts together has already twisted the Democrats into knots and their situation will only get worse.
Of course "liberals" don't admit that they are trying to destroy civilization. This, however, is the only hypothesis that makes sense of their strange assortment of policy prescriptions both foreign and domestic.
On the domestic side, the left works tirelessly to promote the importation of Latin America's corrupt, collectivist political culture through unrestrained immigration and lax enforcement of the rule that only citizens can vote. Leftists also work to expand the welfare state which enervates and infantilizes the electorate. Above all, they work to demolish the moral underpinnings of our freedom and prosperity.
Our civilization has succeeded in large part because Christianity got morality right, and the left has devoted itself to uprooting Christian morality. It has also devoted itself to separating Christianity from our public life. No civilization has ever survived cut off from its moral and spiritual traditions, but this doesn't seem to bother the left.
Consider two principles grounded in Christian theology, central to our civilization's success and under relentless attack from the left. First, the principle that God made us in his image and loves each of us individually. Second, Christian monogamy and the principle that our sexuality is good when, and only when, it serves the purpose of creating and sustaining families.
The first of these principles is the spring from which all human rights flow. It teaches us that humanity is inherently precious and that human life and dignity demand respect. The second stabilizes our civilization and directs it's energies constructively. The left attacks them both in a number of ways.
Abortion "rights," for example are a direct attack on the vital principle that humanity is inherently precious. They are the rights that devour all others. As soon as we decide that humanity is morally insignificant whenever it is contained in a very small body, we have no reliable basis for claiming that any human being has any rights at any time.
The Western idea of human rights is one of the great achievements of our civilization and also a prerequisite of our material success. If the abortion and embryonic research boosters have their way, that idea will fall by the wayside and our civilization will be deeply wounded.
The endless political war over abortion together with the more recent war over "gay rights" illustrate another important point. Both controversies provide examples of the left's eagerness to destroy the conventional sexual morality which contributed so much to our civilization's success. They both grow out of the left's ongoing effort to disconnect sex from procreation so that everyone can enjoy the sexual recreation of their choice without any burden of responsibility. It is difficult to imagine a more wantonly destructive idea.
At the same time they are kicking the props out from under civilization at home, leftists do whatever they can to empower the foreign enemies that want to destroy us. They carp about every use of military power and seek to constrain even gathering intelligence about developing terrorist threats. With the election of a new Congress they have begun talking about forcing a precipitous withdrawal from Iraq which would serve no purpose other than to secure an American defeat and a terrorist victory.
The left, in sum, has entered a tacit, mostly unconscious alliance with Islamic fascists for the purpose of destroying the individualistic and Christian civilization they both hate. This poses a problem for the United States. It creates a crisis for the Democrat Party.
The Democratic Party purged the left in 1944 when the party elders forced President Roosevelt to name Harry Truman as his successor instead of the fellow—traveling Vice President Henry Wallace. This purge allowed the Democrats to remain the dominant American political party for the next fifty years.
But the left came roaring back in the wake of the Vietnam War. It took over the Democratic Party by nominating Wallace disciple George McGovern to run for President in 1972. Despite the electoral debacle that ensued, the left has been consolidating its control over the party ever since.
The long leftist ascendancy has corresponded closely with a long decline in the party's fortunes. The Democrats can only stay in the game at all because of their dominance of the old media bureaucracies, leaving many Americans so clueless about politics that they still haven't figured out who herds the donkeys.
Maintaining this confusion is much easier when the Democrats are shut out of power and playing defense. In the majority they will have to go on offense which will clarify their public image. Clarity is not their friend.
As the Democrats return to power they will be confronted by the army of lobbyists representing left—wing interest groups. Every member of that army will be waving a sheaf of political IOU's. The Democrats can't pay any of them without handing Republicans a stout stick with which to beat them.
The Democrats' most immediate problem is Iraq. Congress probably can't force a retreat from Iraq, and if Pelosi and Co. try to do so they'll pay a heavy price with sane voters of every political stripe for the effort. Very few Americans relish defeat. But if Democrats don't at least try to engineer an American defeat in Iraq, their base will desert them in disgust.
The same dilemma will arise no matter what issues come before Congress. Here are just a few of the subjects Democrats can neither address nor fail to address without hurting themselves politically:
Republican judges who understand the value of human life;
universal health coverage.
Democrats are so deeply divided that nearly every issue is perilous for them. They will spend the next two years trying to tip—toe through a minefield. The surest bet in town is that they'll step on a few mines.
In the long—term, Democrats have two options. They can put themselves in a position to compete in the political mainstream by purging the Moveon.org left or they can slowly dwindle away. A purge would cost them an election cycle or two. Without one they have no future.
Now and then they may have a good year, but even in a good year they remain on the road to oblivion as long as they're in hock to the left.
J. Peter Mulhern is a frequent contributor to American Thinker. He is a lawyer near Washington, SC.