January 24, 2005

DEMOCRAT PREVIEW:

Election is lost already, top adviser tells Howard (Andrew Pierce and Helen Rumbelow, 1/24/05, Times of London)

The Times has learnt of an extraordinary power tussle at Conservative campaign headquarters after Mr Crosby contradicted advice from Lord Saatchi, the party co-chairman, who believes that the Tories should fight to win, or at least deny Labour a majority.

Mr Crosby has concluded from the party’s private polling, showing Labour with a comfortable six-point lead, that the Tories cannot win the next election, expected on May 5. He believes that Mr Howard should concentrate on a face-saving attempt to increase his strength in Parliament by 25 to 30 seats.

His findings are similar to those in a Populus poll last weekend, which suggested that Labour is heading for another 160-seat landslide and that the Tories may lose seats. The poll, along with the Tories’ private data, have torpedoed persistent claims from Lord Saatchi that the Conservatives are doing far better in the seats they need to win to secure a majority at the next election.

The battle of wills between Lord Saatchi, the advertising expert who helped Margaret Thatcher to win three elections, and Mr Crosby, an architect of John Howard’s four successive election victories in Australia, has created a febrile atmosphere at the party’s headquarters only weeks before the campaign is expected to begin. A senior Tory source told The Times last night: “It is terrible for us out there. The polling suggests at best we can win up to 25 seats. But Saatchi is telling Howard that the election is all to play for and that we should fight to win the 165 seats required to give us a majority.

“The fact is that in the marginals we are actually losing ground. Crosby is saying it is madness to fight to win 165 seats when we can’t win 65.”


The problem being that Tony Blair is more like John Howard than is Michael Howard. The Third Way trio--Blair, Bush, J. Howard--is not just remaking their own parties but literally destroying their rivals. It would not be at all surprising to see the Tories and the Democrats replaced by other main opposition parties over the next few years.

Posted by Orrin Judd at January 24, 2005 9:01 AM
Comments

Who would replace the Democrats? Greens? Libertarians? The California GOP?

Posted by: Mike Earl at January 24, 2005 10:39 AM

The Tories need to do what the GOP did after 1964, but especially in the leadup to the 1980 election. They need to identify a few key principles around which their party is organized and then decide how to convince the electorate that those principles are in their best interest. Because this requires taking a step back to take steps forward, it is very difficult for party officials who live from election cycle to election cycle to make this kind of move. The Democrats in the US should have used the McGovern debacle as an opportunity for party re-invention rather than deciding to repackage the same old nonsense.

Posted by: Bart at January 24, 2005 10:57 AM

The GOP elected Nixon, who was basically a Tory.

Posted by: oj at January 24, 2005 11:55 AM

Greens.

Posted by: oj at January 24, 2005 11:56 AM

The Democrats would most likely be replaced by a
party to the Republican's right. Libertarian
or religious.

The Democrats get too much life support, from rich
donors and the media, to disappear. They'll
continue to suck almost all the oxygen on the left.
As the Republican party inevitably moves to the
center, the only air will be on the right.

Posted by: Bob Hawkins at January 24, 2005 2:18 PM

I think it will be a double party split, from the Democratic Party and the Republican. The latter will evolve toward much more of a theocon outlook. The secularists, libertarians, minarchist and similar riff-raff will join the DNC wing of the Democratic Party.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 24, 2005 3:14 PM

OJ,

Nixon won with 43 percent in 1968. In 1972, he ran against the worst candidate ever nominated by a major political party in American history. Reagan would have beaten McGovern 80-20.

A partisan split would be regionally based. One could easily envision an aggressively Black party emerging as the main opposition to the GOP in the South. Culturally moderate Republicans could form an opposition with some disgruntled Democrats in the Northeast and California. The victories of Pataki, Giuliani, Bloomberg and Schwarzenegger are indicators of this.

Posted by: Bart at January 24, 2005 4:19 PM

Bart:

Yes, that's my point. Nixon was a liberal, not a conservative.

Posted by: oj at January 24, 2005 4:24 PM

Consoldating my points about the future of the Democrats that I have made in several posts before:

My prediction is not based on what things are like now but on what the structural imperatives of being the minority party in a two party system are.

First, the existence of a two party system in the US is dictated by the single member district, winner take all nature of American legislative and Executive elections. This will not change without a major constitutional change, which will not be forthcoming.

Second, because of the complex thicket of election laws it is almost impossible to start a new party and have it succeed unless one of the old parties collapses. State election laws confer tremendous advantages on the "legacy parties." That is a major reason the Republican party did not disappear during the years between 1932 and 1980.

Third, ideas count, but the student of history knows which ones count more than others.

Some ideas just will not produce winning political parties in the United States. Socialism is one of them. It didn't have much appeal when it was a fresher idea than it is now. And it is a dead-bang looser now. A socialist party carries the upper left side of Manhattan, the the foggier reaches of the Bay Area, and Cambridge. 0.25% nationally. Forget it. In the end,in order to be a viable political party in the United States, the Democrats must abandon socialism (a/k/a liberalism, progresiveism, multiculturalism, postmoderism, etc.)

Populism is another. Put a stake through William Jennings Bryan's heart. Sexual minorities are a third. They are icky and a sure route to the basement.

What works in the US is the eternal American debate between Jefferson (small government, libertarian) and Hamilton (active pro-commercial government, communitarian). Both sides of the debate have been labeled conservative in the 20th century because both sides have opposed socialism and populism, but both sides have their traditionalist (true conservative) and revolutionary (true progressive) aspects. It is always thus in American politics.

In the last few years the Republicans have discovered that it is more fun to spend money than to be ideologically pure. Only an opposition party can be a small government/balanced budget party. Now that the Republican Party has won the 2004 election and consolidated its hold on Washington. My guess is that their native tendency will, perforce, be Hamiltonian as it will allow them to rationalize spending money and incurring debt, which is something the party in power always likes to do.

The Democrat party will adopt the attitudes of a party out of power. They will oppose budget deficits, new govt. programs, and expanded powers. To some extent they are already doing this. This being the case the Jeffersonian side is open for the Democrats. Small Government is a good slogan for an opposition party. A balanced budget will be a popular platform item. If the Democrats have a future it will be as the party of Jefferson, small government, balanced budget, states rights, isolationism, free trade, etc. It will be a somewhat difficult transition for them as they will have to abandon the New Deal, but lets face it America is divided between those people who think that Herbert Hoover was the FBI dude and those who think that he invented the vacuum cleaner. OTOH, they will be able to argue civil liberties and states rights with a straight face.

Opposing governmental intrusion into private lives will allow them to rationalize their existing stands on issues such as abortion and drug legalization. Gay marriage -- get government out of the marriage business.

An isolationist foreign policy would seem to fit this pattern very well. It would also allow them to rationalize opposition to wars in Iraq and Vietnam on some basis other than pure anti-Americanism, which has poisoned the party so far. D's will embrace free trade but will be isolationist. R's will talk free trade, but will make deals for constituencies that D's will criticize. R's will be internationalist in the way Bush is, not like Kerry. The UN is doomed. Bushism has no use for the UN because it relies on the anglosphere and other willing allies (e.g. Japan) and the isolationist Democrats won't have anything to do with the UN either. Four blocks along the East River in NYC could be developed in to high rise condos worth hundreds of millions of Dollars.

The Democrats will adopt the slogan that government is best which governs least. They will talk about states rights. If the Democrats are willing to ditch their love affair with federal regulation, which should be no problem as they will not be running the agencies, the Libertarians will come over and provide them with an intellectual base. The Libertarians will be unhappy with the Republicans as the party in power. Libertarianism will probably displace socialism on college campuses. This means they are going to have to learn to love Murray Rothbard:-) It will be fun to watch, but it is the only way out for them.

There will be changes in the Democrats' constituency base. An permanent minority cannot be the party of government unions and trial lawyers. The Democrats will be useless to those groups, who will abandon them as rats abandon a sinking ship. Blacks, Jews and Hollywood who identify merely for the sake of identifying may stay. Hispanics, who will be trying to push ahead of Blacks on the ladder of success in American life, will probably find the Republican party more congenial. The could be a very marked Black/Hispanic split. So much for the Rainbow coalition theory.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 25, 2005 2:24 AM

Robert,

Your argument is an interesting one but I think it fails to address what is perhaps going to become the most important societal divide in the upcoming half-century or so. That is, there will be people comfortable with technology and people who aren't, and those that are will be clearly ahead of those who aren't. When it comes to the division of spoils in society, the future belongs to the nerds. This will throw the existing society on its ear and there will be new winners and losers. The unions will not matter as they have not reacted to the new economy preferring instead to focus on preserving citadels of privilege in the public sector and a few smokestack and craft unions. Thus, the traditional American cushion for those who lose out will be gone. Outsourcing is another factor here. If you can hire an English-fluent, well-trained computer geek in Bangalore for 20K, why would you pay 100K to someone in Manhattan to do the same thing?

Our economic structure has been bell-shaped since the end of WWII at least. We've had a large middle, upper-working class, well-paid, homeowning, etc. Our society is becoming more pyramidal, with a narrow coterie at the top and a large mass of people getting minimum, with no health care and working at Wal-Mart.

Just as we have seen when the victims of outsourcing became computer engineers and not the inarticulate members of the UAW, when the trend extends further up the economic food chain, the yelling will get that much louder. Imagine if you would, what would happen if a newspaper came up with the idea of having its editorial columns written in Mumbai instead of DC. Certainly, it is far from inconceivable that advertising could move offshore.

There will be political capital in representing the losers in this Brave New World.

Posted by: Bart at January 25, 2005 7:10 AM

Mr. Schwartz;

That's close to my reasoning. I think the opposition party you talk about will come from a splitting off of those elements from the GOP and Democratic Party.

Bart;

Actually, I think we're moving back to a more bell like curve. The trades are becoming a better place to earn a living. The internet lowers the barrier to entry for many other tasks. Consider your own example of editorial columns. Before, it was a vert steep pyramid. Now, it's flattening out much more. The music industry is going the same way, shifting from a mega-star oriented system to much more of a cottage industry system. This trend helps out what Mr. Schwartz is talking about, because as more people do things for themselves, the more they'll encounter and resent the heavy hand of government.

Posted by: Annoying Old Guy at January 25, 2005 9:55 AM

Bart: My mother is 82. She will not be with us in the political long run. In 30 years, The system will be run by my kids. My artsie daugther, the theater major, not her youger syster the physics major, or her brother the hacker, adopted a personal technology update plan! She has a cell phone and a cable modem, but no telephone.

AOG: Yes, as I said, there will be migrations. Libertarians will flee the Republicans. Government Employees will drop the Democrats.

But, the hulks of the old parties will remain in place. They are embedded in state political laws.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at January 26, 2005 1:40 AM

Robert,

Your kids like my cousins are pretty far up the intellectual and financial food chain so they are irrelevant to the discussion. Most White non-athletes at Northwestern are in the top 5% of IQ nationally.

But most people will be encountering a different reality. The kind of semi-skilled labor that provided a good living for lots of people, like steelworker and autoworker jobs, are disappearing. In truth, they were uneconomic and therefore unsustainable long-term. There are lots of clerical jobs that have disappeared in the new economy as well. Our execrable educational system will not be producing ordinary kids with sufficient skills to function well in the new economy. Our competitors in Japan, France and Germany do train their kids in vocational skills which will be valuable in the future, our schools are little more than warehouses for many of the students.

These people, who will experience worse lives than their parents did, will be a voting bloc to be reckoned with.

Posted by: Bart at January 26, 2005 6:34 PM

Their lives will be so much easier than their parents were that the comparison is risible.

Posted by: oj at January 26, 2005 6:42 PM

It's already happening. What has happened to the one-income family? When we moved out to the suburbs, our house was the only one where both parents worked. When we moved out, all the families were 2-income families. Most people would see that as a significant decrease in quality of life, even if you don't.

Posted by: Bart at January 26, 2005 8:25 PM
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