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January 02, 2008

Richard Florida

Waiting for Themidor

« Kurzweilonomics | Main | The Orwell Index »

In a fascinating analysis of the Republican Party in the New York Review of Books, Michael Tomasky writes:

It is tempting to think that the Bush years have represented an apotheosis of conservatism, and that a future Republican administration would surely bring a kind of Thermidorean adjustment. It is also the case, obviously, that none of these men is George W. Bush and that each of them, as president, might at least be less stubborn, more interested in the details of policy, and less hostile to empirical evidence that does not support his preconceived notions.

But at the same time, one must remember that as far as movement conservatives are concerned, Bush has been something of a disappointment, and vast chunks of their plan for the country remain unrealized. The neocons will not quit wanting a preemptive strike against Iran, something the December NIE has seemingly ruled out for the rest of Bush's term; they will welcome a fresh opportunity to push their case with an administration the public has not yet learned to distrust. The theocons still want Roe overturned, along with some other Warren Court precedents (watch, if the next president is a Republican, for a fresh assault on Warren-era decisions on criminal and civil procedure, for example Miranda v. Arizona). And for the radical anti-taxers' tastes, the federal government is still far too large, its regulations far too numerous, and income tax and capital gains tax rates, even at their already reduced levels, far too high, not to mention the continued existence of that pesky Social Security system.

Read the whole thing here. Regardless of which party and which candidate wins in 2008, this is a powerful political dynamic. Americans have this naive belief that our political system is self-regulating and self-adjusting. I remember talking with a senior editor at the Atlantic and saying I thought George W. Bush might be a "finger in the dike" sort of figure compared to what could be coming. He asked me in turn to consider the political backlash that might occur if the alternative - a more moderate, liberal Democratic president - were to take office. The rift in American politics runs very deep.   Political polarization, the culture wars and the class divide will continue to define America's political landscape for the foreseeable future.  Stay tuned for Iowa and New Hampshire.


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