Although some of my conservative friends think I’m nuts, I am convinced that given our two-party system, it is best for the country when both parties are strong. We need checks and balances. We need strong competitors in the tug-of-war political system established by our Founders.
I know that some argue for a multi-party system like Germany’s – like that works so great (ha, ha) – but that is a topic for another time. I see little chance of discarding the two-party system in the foreseeable future, so let’s think about what is needed to make it work well.
I have to agree with Mark Steyn’s analysis of our current situation here. “American politics seems to have dwindled down to a choice between a big government party and a big permanently-out-of-government party.” “These days one party raises a ton of money from George Soros and the other raises a ton of money from you.” Steyn laments, “The Democrats' approach to government has been Sorosized, the GOP's has been supersized. Some choice.”
The reason for this is that the Democrats have weakened themselves with their decades-long obsession with ideologies reprehensible to middle America. With the President’s poll numbers in the dumps, Democrats have been licking their chops in hopes of a Congressional takeover in ’06. But due to widespread gerrymandering, the cards are stacked against them. Nor do voters seem at all thrilled about turning the reigns over to them, as the idea-free-hate-Bush party polls out as bad as or worse than Republicans.
The experience of American politics over the last six decades shows that when one party is weak, the other party goes nuts on government spending, regardless of which party is which. It is like watching a tug-of-war between 20 brawny and 10 scrawny guys. One side gets trounced regardless of its efforts. We need well matched strength on both sides.
During the eight Clinton years Republicans became strong and forced discretional spending to be held to an overall increase of 8%. During the five W years Democrats have been weak, allowing Republicans to increase discretional spending at a whopping 37% rate, only a small portion of which is related to homeland security. Surely these excesses could eventually prove the Republican’s undoing.
Of course, this theory somewhat presupposes that the right game is being played – that we’re kept within bounds established by the rule sheet of the Constitution. And that only happens when Congress properly exercises its authority to provide constitutionally mandated checks and balances on the judicial branch, something that has been in short supply.
The Founders dreamed of a system that would make for good government. Due to Democratic weakness and legislative dereliction of judicial oversight, we are lopsided right now. The possible solutions are for the Democrats to wake up and make changes as the Republicans did after being out of power for three decades (thanks to strong leadership by the likes of Reagan), or to die off and morph into something new as the Whigs did. Either way, the sooner we get there, the better.