Wednesday :: Sep 6, 2006

The North Will Rise Again

by pessimist

This interesting assertion belongs to Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne. He elaborates:

The realignment of the South has been more important than any other factor in the rise of the Republican Party to majority status in Congress. The changing regional contours of American politics have been visible in the Southernization of the GOP leadership -- from President Bush of Texas [South Connecticut?] and Gingrich of Georgia to Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist of Tennessee and, earlier, Dick Armey and Tom DeLay, both Texans.

If Democrats win control of the House of Representatives in this fall's elections, that inversion of an old slogan is likely to be a central factor in their victory. To put it in historical terms, if Democrats have suffered in the states of the Old Confederacy, many of their best opportunities in November are in states carried by the first Republican president, Abraham Lincoln, in the 1860 election.

The rise of the Dixiepublicans and their brand of conservatism has pushed moderates in the North in the Democrats' direction. It would be one of history's ironies if that majority were imperiled by the reassertion of the Lincoln states.

Can we do this without the country erupting into major regional sectarian violence?

Most likely. But it's been a long time coming. The process toward this observation began shortly after the GOP's capture of the House in 1994:

Washington Post political writer Dan Balz was one of the first to notice after Bill Clinton's 1996 re-election that longtime Republican suburban bastions in Pennsylvania, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, New York and New Jersey were moving the Democrats' way.

I'm guessing that this reaction was inspired by the Republican Party's agenda, the 'Contract ON America' - the results of which we can see all around us if we use opened eyes and unbiased brains.

One wonders why it has taken so long for the Democrats to take advantage of this shift if the beginnings were observable so long ago. Ten years is a long time for any organized group like the GOP radicals who call themselves conservative to wreak havoc on the nation essentially unopposed. Something resembling a traditional opposition would have arisen long ago had the Democrats not become a flock of sheep.

Is there evidence to back Balz' assertion of changes in support in 1996? I don't know - but are there signs today of that observation coming true? Maybe - you decide:

Gov. Ed Rendell, Pennsylvania's Democratic governor who is seeking a second term this fall, .... argues that in the older industrial states, Republicans are being hurt by the trade issue... Job losses have made voters especially sensitive to the erosion of America's competitive position in the global economy. Rendell says flatly:
"In 10 years, we could wind up being
a second-rate economic power
if we don't improve our competitiveness."
And then, Rendell said, there is the strong opposition to the Iraq War in his region, which could complicate the Bush administration's new political offensive targeting Democratic critics of its policies.

It isn't only Bu$h-bashing coming from Rendell. He also is offering what I consider to be innovative solutions to some serious national problems that only receive cheap lip service from Bu$hCo. For instance:

Rendell -- who is well ahead of Republican Lynn Swann in the polls -- offers fixes that include national health insurance in order to remove the burden of health costs from American businesses.

Clearly, this problem is high on the political action list of CEOs. Finding a way to take that problem off their hands should be a win-win. The CEOs won't have to wrestle with the expense any longer, and those covered won't have to worry that some CEO's bonus will take precedence over medical care premiums in their employer's annual budget.

He says his party should also push for education reform and major investments in alternative energy. These suggestions have the potential of being both business-friendly and congenial to liberal Democrats.

I doubt that anyone who has school-aged children would debate the need for changes in the way the educational system is configured and run. We parents can see that 'No Child Left Educated' cannot work if the only thing being taught to our children are the test answers - an expediency by school administrators to avoid having to surrender increasingly scarce grant dollars.

As for the support for a national alternative energy movement - one which would require educated scientists and inventors to become viable - many have proposed such a thing as the best way to revitalize the American economy, hopefully stimulating a real economic boom, and not just one that exists only on the statistics pages of conservative economic reports. I support such a movement, and an investment by the national government along the lines of the Man In Space program would be a wise move - provided the government receives its fair share of the profits to be realized.

So what say you to these ideas? Is Dionne on to something - or is he all wet? What about Rendell? Do the Democrats even have a chance of making these things happen due to GOP intransigence?

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pessimist :: 6:22 PM :: Comments (4) :: Digg It!