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Old 09-07-2012, 12:12 PM   #16
Lightrise Lightrise is offline

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Originally Posted by Direckshun View Post
Forum's pretty slow today. Allow me to speed things up with a super-wide view of the current political landscape.

You can thank me later.

I never like the idea of saying "this is the most important election of my lifetime" because it feels to hyperbolic. The only time I actually felt that way was during 2004 in the middle of the Bush presidency, but the Bush presidency gave way to the Obama administration, which is starting to unwind a bunch of the things I considered the Bush administration to have screwed up (the wars, the recession, the Bush tax cuts for the wealthy, Medicare's financial unsustainability). So it's pretty clear I overreacted in 2004. If only I had been a ChiefsPlanet poster then so you all could mock me for it.

All the other elections just seemed to be very important, because you can do a lot of things in 4 years when you've got the White House on your side.

The reason I think this election is so important, however, is because I don't think this election is about the next four years. I think the next decade of policy rests on this election's shoulders.

Obama was and is a game changer, politically. He represents the nation's fresh breath of anti-neoconservativism that the nation felt it needed in 2008 after Bush. Obama is unabashedly liberal, but incredibly charismatic and likeable (hardcore conservatives don't feel this way, but I assure you the polling has always suggested that everybody else does). The moment we elected him to was huge, as well, putting him right behind the 8 ball with the wars and the economy, a situation which clearly set him up for an extremely difficult four years.

If he is able to win reelection, it's possible that this country could face a true electoral realignment of Reagan proportions (or maybe even greater) within the next decade, the realignment that Rove so desperately wanted for Bush in 2004 but failed to achieve. I'm talking about a realignment that fundamentally changes the way the vast majority of the population views these two political parties.

I've written about this a lot on this forum, but I predict that no matter who wins the election in 2012, unemployment will drop like a rock in 2014 as the job openings/job applicant mismatches start to vanish and the pool of applicants adapt to all the job openings. Again, this is despite Obama or Romney being President.

But assume it is Obama. Then you're talking about, at the conclusion of 2016, a presidency that would have presided over a gradual but successful recovery from the worst recession in our and our parents' lifetimes, withdrawals from both wars in the Middle East, the killing of OBL, the passing and now implementation of full healthcare reform, and at least three SCOTUS judges... Even without Republican cooperation in Obama's second term, all these things would happen, with the only significant question mark being the unemployment situation, which I do believe will recover like gangbusters in a couple years.

If all these things happen, the contrast of the past two decades will be unbelievably stark in 2016: you can do it the Democratic way, like the charistmatic and successful Obama and Clinton admistrations did, and preside over successful economies and sane foreign policy, or you can do it the Republican way, like... George W. Bush.

Combine that with the demographic changes this country will be going over the next decade (Texas could genuinely become a swing state by 2020, for starters), and I believe we could be facing a realignment.

I think this would be especially likely if Hillary were to run in 2016. Barring a complete shitfit, she couldn't lose, running on the records of Obama and Clinton, who would both extensively campaign for her, giving her a 3-to-1 advantage over whomever the Republicans trot out. Thinking of what she could accomplish in the wakes of what these two Presidents have laid for her in terms of policy foundations, is mind boggling.

The Republican Party, in the face of this, would absolutely have to evolve from their current exclusivity, their current regressive tax policies, and embrace something more inclusive, more moderate, and less reactionary. More conservative, less reactionary regressive. And then you'd finally have the post-Boomer conversation about the true value of liberalism and conservativism that this nation has lost since the Vietnam war embedded the Boomer population in a decades-long culture war. This development would change the entire dynamic, and provide those weird things like "hope" and "change" that we've ridiculed for five years.

On the other hand, what if the Republicans win? Romney/Ryan '12.

Most of Obama's accomplishments would obviously be trashed. Healthcare reform would either be outright repealed, or simply not enforced and de-fanged until it could no longer accomplish much of anything. The Democratic goal of bringing back the Clinton tax rates for the wealthy would be a thing of the past; in fact, Romney and Ryan would move the offensive forward, attempting to bring their tax rates down even lower. The landmark regulations for the financial industry passed under Obama would almost certainly be neutered to the point of irrelevancy, in particular Consumer Protection.

But even more than his policies, the idea of what Obama represented would be defeated. The idea of providing more for the less fortunate, for collectivism and the social safety net, would suffer irreperable harm as Romney and Ryan get to benefit from an employment boom in 2014, something they will understandably take credit for and the public will understandably reward them for, embedding in the public psyche the idea that regressive policies somehow accounted for all of this, and cementing trickle-down economics as vindicated once and for all.

And while Ryan seems very green now, assuming Romney wins reelection, Ryan would be a powerful candidate under this philosophy in 2020 running against whomever the Democrats could put up. By then, barring any huge screwups or scandals by the Romney administration, the conversation between conservativism and liberalism would almost certainly vanish, and instead be between conservativism and libertarian regressivism.

You're talking about two radically different futures for the next decade-plus, one with generational realignment possibilities in my opinion.

All of it sparked from one election.

That's why I think this could be the most important election in our lifetimes.

Wish I had more time to respond, perhaps later. But I appreciate your analysis. It is an important election. I am convinced that the republican establishment did not believe Hillary would come up short. Once they realized what they were facing in Obama fear consumed them. While they may have disagreed with Colin Powell publically, they understood that Obama was indeed a 'transformational' leader. They understood Obama was bold enough and was sharp enough and was personable enough that they could easily be marginalized when time is now critical. The shifting demographics, ironically made much worse with Bush failing to control illegal immigration, is a freight train rolling over the party. It is now or never for them and that is why they went down the ugly roads of birtherism/racism, show me your papers Pedro, voter suppression, obstruction. I don't think they calculated the visibility these tactics would receive. It then became apparent that all this still might not be enough and thus they concluded that even overt lies were less damaging than the truth if backed by big bucks. This strategy may still end up working it is hard to stop transformational movements. They could not have forseen things like losing the foreign policy debate even though Bush's failures were so dramatic. Resurrecting the culture war demonstrated an incredible degree of disconnect too. That just made it all the harder for them. I think they became desperate. I don't think they could handle an almost Mount Rushmore type democratic president leading us forward in dramatic new ways. It was too much for them. Through obstruction they probably will succeed in preventing the nation from realization of what could have been promising for the country. But the strategy is backfiring and they are destroying their party. I think obstructionism will finally die in January. They have no choice now but to play the same game with transformational change. They have to accept this because that is what the country wants. I'm not sure where they will find that leader. The GOP must defend many senate seats in 2014 and beyond. the Senate may well slip away for some time. If senator Reid believes its already to late and the Democrats keep the senate he may well change the Filibuster rules. That will allow transformational change to occur, and that will resonate with the people. Reid will no longer have to worry about the potential boomerang of tinkering with the filibuster rules. The ONLY way out for the republicans now is to give up the culture war they cannot win, AND they MUST get all of their representatives and senators to rescind the Grover Norquist blackmail pledge. They have to rid him of the cancer he is. That would restore their capacity to make their case to the people, let the chips fall, act rationally when the facts change, and restore statesmanship to national leadership. The ideology war for the GOP has been lost.
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