It is an act of supreme optimism on the day after such a dismal election, when hope is in tatters and the Republicans have tightened their grip on the levers of power, to think of a future rise of the prospects of the Democratic party. But we should remember that every party goes through long cycles of being out of power; of seeming to be out of favor or out of touch with the electorate. Indeed, this election seems an especially stinging rejection. But this will not last forever.
I think that George Bush, Karl Rove and Tom DeLay will actually help bring that day closer by overreaching. Their hubris in this apparently sweeping victory will, as it did with Newt Gingrich and his Contract with America fiasco, cause them to propose a sweeping, stridently right wing political-social agenda: abolition of the estate tax, new tax cuts, privatizing social security, hard-right Supreme Court candidates, etc. They think this is a mandate. But if the Democrats remaining in the Senate and House can play their cards right (and admittedly they don’t have many good ones in their hand), the Republicans will overplay theirs. It is especially important that Democrats prosecute the campaign against Tom DeLay’s ethical and legal lapses vigorously. That is one of the biggest current chinks in their armor.
There is possibly a small problem with my analogy to Newt Gingrich in 1994. That is, that BIll Clinton was in power and he availed himself of the presidency to stymie Gingrich every step of the way. Now, we don’t have a Bill Clinton to help Gingrich look like the fool he was. But I’m still hopeful that the Democrats can present a wise and cautious alternative to fire-breathing hard-right advocacy.
I’m curious to see what cabinet changes a second term will bear. It seems obvious that Colin Powell will go. But who’d want that unwelcome chair in a Bush cabinet? Could BUsh persuade a moderate like Richard Lugar to take this portfolio on? If he did, all I can say is good luck Dick. You’ve taken on a thankless task to moderate those dragons, Cheney and Rumsfeld. Will Bush keep Rumsfeld? If not, would he appoint a moderate Republican to fill the slot or another hard right dragon?
Bush’s victory speech was a laugh. Clearly, an excellent speech writer had wanted Bush to put his best foot forward as one tends to do in these magnanimous speeches:
Reaching these goals will require the broad support of Americans. So today I want to speak to every person who voted for my opponent. To make this nation stronger and better, I will need your support, and I will work to earn it. I will do all I can do to deserve your trust. A new term is a new opportunity to reach out to the whole nation. We have one country, one Constitution and one future that binds us. And when we come together and work together, there is no limit to the greatness of America.
But no one, least of all Rove and his crowd in the White House, believes any of it. Their motto certainly will be: “Bitches, if you think the last four years have been bad for you, you ain’t seen nothing’ yet!”