Skip to comments.Safire: The Dangers of Lopsidedness
Posted on 11/03/2004 7:13:56 PM PST by Pokey78
Washington Nobody "blew" it. Both the Kerry and Bush campaigns successfully turned on and turned out their troops, resulting in the kind of massive vote - the highest percentage of eligible voters taking part since 1968, also a wartime election - that should make America proud.
Fierce partisanship, rooted in policy disagreement and driven by 2000's "we wuz robbed" resentment, left the former voter apathy dead. This year's hot competition served a great purpose in putting millions more selves in self-government.
But there is a rhythm to politics - a time to divide and a time to unite. Kerry's heartfelt and eloquent concession speech yesterday, hoping "to bridge the partisan divide," was in stark contrast to the fire last time. President Bush, re-elected with a substantial popular majority, properly responded with "a new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation."
It would be foolish to deny the continued reality of that divide. On foreign policy, it pits hawk vs. dove, idealist vs. realist, uni- vs. multi-. On domestic affairs, liberals and conservatives will clash, now more one-sidedly, on taxes and paternalism. On cultural values, 11 states rose up against gay marriage, which had much to do with mobilizing the evangelical right.
Can Bush stick to principles that elected him while taking some of the poison out of the political atmosphere? The atrophy of the usual checks and balances requires a certain internal restraint.
Danger comes from the temptation to bull ahead that awaits lopsided government. Bush has the re-legitimated White House power backed up by a more rightist House of Representatives, now bolstered by a Senate with a 55-to-45 Republican majority. On top of that array of political muscle, a Supreme Court already tilted slightly rightward will soon be ready for an infusion of new justices.
This imbalance will ultimately trigger Rayburn's law: "When you get too big a majority," said Speaker Sam Rayburn, a Democrat, after F.D.R.'s 1936 landslide, "you're immediately in trouble."
Another danger to Republican self-restraint is the Democratic Party's post-Clinton ideological split, the central cause of its widespread losses this year. The isolationist, union-financed Deaniac left will unfairly attribute Kerry's defeat to his ambivalence on Iraq. This will erode the minority discipline that had been enforced for a decade by the Senate Democratic leader, Tom Daschle, who was just trapped in the G.O.P.'s senatorial avalanche.
Republicans are hoping that Democrats will pick Senator Harry Reid of Nevada, a well-liked journeyman politician who is only fair on television, to replace Daschle as minority leader. A stronger choice to speak for the Democrats and dicker with the majority leader Bill Frist for compromises on Bush's initiatives would be Chris Dodd of Connecticut. The strongest choice would be the well-known John Kerry, world-class TV debater, who now understands where the nation's power center lies. (Bush should offer a domestic cabinet post to Daschle, an understanding pol who can be depended on to turn it down.)
What initiatives would bridge the divide while keeping campaign promises? Legislation to set up personal retirement accounts in Social Security, along with appointing a commission that would recommend raising the retirement age to 70 for those now under 50. In Iraq, follow Kerry's campaign advice to attack Falluja, the terrorist haven, and take up Kerry's suggestion of a cordial summit with Chirac, Schröder and other allies seeking rapprochement before their own dreaded election tests.
Then I would urge further development of the president's thoughtful compromise of two years ago granting federal support for research using lines of discarded embryonic stem cells. This would not double-cross Bush's base; on the contrary, it would be a natural progression of his cautious, ethical policy. And for the Supreme Court, find a brilliant, moderate, female Hispanic strict constructionist from Massachusetts.
Elections are wondrous things. Yesterday's losers of squeakers, as I recall from 1960, can come back to win another day. At the moment, we are on a democratic election roll: the recent victories of John Howard in Australia, Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan and Bush in the U.S. augur well for a democratic election a few months from now in Iraq.
In democracies, the pendulum always swings. Cheer up, this week's saddened losers, and take heed, this week's euphoric winners - Hillary Clinton's restoration campaign is already under way.
OK, it's official, Safire has lost his mind.
"On cultural values, 11 states rose up against gay marriage, which had much to do with mobilizing the evangelical right."
I take exception to the above statement. You don't have to be on the evangelical right, whatever that is, to oppose homosexual marriage, whatever that is. The bottom line is most people don't really care what you do in your bedroom but don't ask them to legitimize it by giving it the sanctity and aura of social acceptance. Most Americans just plain think homosexuality is the antithesis of life and the life force and we believe it is wrong. The end.
Hey Safire, life in that upper West side bubble is rotting your mind.
I guess Safire's point is that when you get the majority you need to accomplish your goals you should immediately compromise them in order to get along and not seem like a bully. Yikes....
That must be some mightly powerful weed he is smoking.
On the contrary, this is quintessential Safire. Safire has always been a Nixon type Republican which is to say a liberal Republican. He isn't leaving the Republican Party, the Party is leaving him.
He is right in a sense. When you have TOO much of a lead, you tend to forget who brung ya' to the dance. That is what caused the 'Rats to lose the House and Senate both in '94. The 'Rats forgot that this is NOT a liberal nation just itching to shed capitalism and try the clothing of socialism on.
The GOP must remember that we sent them to DC to FIX things that the 'Rats screwed up, not make them worse.
I believe that there is an opening in groundskeeping.
A lot of time, money and effort was wasted on this election if the pursuit of common ground is now the priority.
maybe a domestic gardener post
A cabnet post ? No.
or ambassador to Ruanda
WTF is he talking about ?
The people have spoken
now, fall in behind the leader
Funny, when Clinton won and he had all of congress, where were these guys then? Was there this outpouring of concern over it being lopsided?
Safire is a New York Times conservative. He's a reliable defender of Israel, but pretty shaky on everything else.
In particular, he has NO use for traditional moral values. He is strongly pro-abort.
Bush is NOT Safire's kind of conservative. I'm sure Saffire is very worried by what several analysts have already pointed out: that Bush was mainly elected because of what he stands for morally. Safire has no use for traditional religion or morality, Christian or Jewish.