In 1978, there was talk of electing a veto-proof Democratic Congress because the President was too conservative. That President was a Democrat, Jimmy Carter.
In 2007, we have at long last in Duhbya-world a Democratic Congress. The voters elected the swing Democrats because it was finally clear to enough people that Iraq was a debacle. Even though cool heads had amply predicted every last problem that has beset Iraq, the jingoistic march to war had shunted them aside - off TV and radio and even mostly out of newsprint - as so many unhonored Cassandras.
One issue was more important to me than Iraq, though not to the voters. That was the utter, total, absolute, and complete failure of unified Republican government to retain any semblance of separation of powers, so great its fealty was to the Bushist cult of personality. During their dominance of American politics from the 1930s to the 1970s, Democrats in the Congress repeatedly refused to be handmaidens to the President, whether Democratic or Republican. The Republican Congresses of 2001 to 2006 had no interest in leaving the country and the Constitution better off, as long as they could leave the conservative movement better off. And, oh yeah, as long as they could fatten up their friends at the public trough.
Oversight? Are you kidding me!
How did we get here?
I see four reasons:
- Republicans concluded that their program of government could never get them into the majority if presented honestly, even after forty years of halting movement to the center, so they built a political apparatus that was primarily concerned with marketing.
- Democrats unilaterally surrendered their most potent political weapon and the unifying attribute of their political coalition - social class.
- The media gave up the difficult work of separating truth out of the routine lies and bullshit of politics and made its purpose the reinforcement of conventional wisdom.
- The voters turned down their bullshit detectors. Or off. (Some examples.) So many people were telling them that self-government is too hard that they believed it.
I'll get into each of these in time.