Unfortunately, now that they have been the party in power for a decade, the GOP is aping the Democrats of the era of Tip O'Neill, Jim Wright, and Dan Rostenkowski. Instead of insisting that their leaders hold to the highest ethical standards, the GOP is now willing to use strong arm tactics to protect their leaders. They can no longer claim the moral high ground they held in 1994; and if they resign the moral high ground to the left, what but gerrymandering can ensure their continued hold on power?
"Powerline Shorts Out" (19 Nov 04). Leaving aside the purported "moral high ground" of 1994Newt Gingrich being a primary examplethe Perfesser has accurately pointed out that we do not now, and have not for many years, had ideology-based politics in this country. Instead, we have faction-based politics. How else to explain the solidarity between Southern and Yankee Democrats? This is precisely why the founders, and Washington in particular, disdained political parties: They recognized that they would tend toward factionalism. The British experience is enlightening; the phenomenon of "Wet Tories" during Iron Maggie's reign (which I saw up close and personal, as I was stationed over there during her declining years) should be all one needs to see.
The irony that the least-stable democratic government in EuropeItalyhas the "purest" ideology-based party structure should provide more than enough grist for a mill of badly conceived articles in second-rate political science and law journals trying to measure (and then theorize based upon) some secondary effect. These might bear titles like Causative Analysis of Political Party Behavior on Environmental Legislation in Post-Cold-War Luxembourgbut they should be Of Chickens and Eggs, Part XXVII: Luxembourg and Environmental Legislation. Emmanuel Goldstein (preferred US edition) had it right:
The object of power is power.
And, at least in the opinion of those actually in power, nothing else matters. Sorry if that sounds cynical. I spent too much time inside the Beltway to be anything else.
What this really points out is that the Perfesser has conservative beliefs that are different from mine, which is something I can respect. What I cannot respect is factionalism and cronyismwhether coming from Texas Republicans or Chicago Democrats; whether based on a coherent ideological base or single-issue fanaticism; whether from the dominant party or its disloyal opposition. But then, I'm one of those weirdos who actually expects enforcement of ethical standards on those who have (or seek) power, which is also why I distrust pure-market solutions to anything. That, however, is for another time, another forum, and another 200 footnotes.