Posted by Curt on 26 November, 2016 at 12:00 pm. 2 comments already!


Kevin D. Williamson:

A very nice liberal broadcaster asked me earlier this week whether I am worried about the future of the Republican party.

Funny question.

There are 25 states in which the state legislatures and governorships are controlled by Republicans, and two states with executive/legislative divides in which there are Republican legislative majorities large enough to override a veto from the Democratic governor. Sixty-eight of the country’s 98 partisan state legislative chambers are Republican-run. There are only four states with Democratic governors and legislatures; it is true that these include one of our most populous states (California), but the majority of Americans live in states in which there are Republican trifectas or veto-proof legislative majorities. Two-thirds of the nation’s governors are Republicans; more than two-thirds of our state legislative houses are under Republican control. Republicans control both houses of Congress and have just won the presidency.

Democrats control the dean of students’ office at Oberlin.

And Democrats have responded to their recent electoral defeat with riots, arson, and Alex Jones–level conspiracy theories. Progressives have just raised $5 million to press for a recount in several states. Clinton sycophant Paul Krugman, sounding exactly like every well-mannered conspiracy nut you’ve ever known, says the election “probably wasn’t hacked,” but “conspiracies do happen” and “now that it’s out there” — (who put it out there?) — “an independent investigation is called for.”

Maybe it isn’t the Republican party whose future needs worrying about.

In one sense, what is happening in American politics is a convergence of partisan styles.

Beginning with the nomination of Barry Goldwater, and thanks in no small part to the efforts of many men associated with this magazine, the Republican party spent half a century as a highly ideological enterprise. But highly ideological political parties are not the norm in the English-speaking world, especially not in the United States, and the conservative fusion of American libertarianism, social traditionalism, and national-security assertiveness probably is not stable enough to cohere, having now long outlived the Cold War, in which it was forged. Trump’s lack of conservative principle is unwelcome, but it points to an ideological looseness that is arguably more normal, a return to the model of party as loose coalition of interest groups.

The Democrats, on the other hand, are becoming more ideological, or at least more openly and self-consciously ideological, as the party’s progressivism becomes more and more a catechism. This has the effect of making the Democratic party less democratic. American progressives have a long and genuine commitment to mass democracy, having supported not only various expansions of the franchise but also many instruments of direct democracy such as the ballot initiative, but they also have a long and genuine commitment to frustrating democracy when it gets in the way of the progressive agenda, which is why they have spent the better part of a century working to politicize the courts, the bureaucracies, and the non-governmental institutions they control in order to ensure they get their way even when they lose at the ballot box. Democrats did not pay much attention when they started suffering losses at the state level, because they were working against federalism and toward a unitary national government controlled from Washington. And they did not fight as hard as they might to recover from their losses in Congress while Barack Obama sat in the White House, obstructing Republican legislative initiatives and attempting to govern through executive fiat — an innovation that the Democrats surely are about to regret in the direst way.

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