Monday, July 21, 2008

Political wilderness

From the New York Times:
Indeed, to Ms. McArdle, the possibility of a Republican defeat holds a certain romantic appeal. “Younger people are kind of excited about being in the wilderness,” she said, evoking the pre-Reagan years when Republican thinkers plotted their revolution at nonprofit organizations and in bars instead of in the Executive Office Building and congressional majority offices. The longer you’re in power, the more you want to preserve it. “That’s where the Republicans are right now, and it’s demoralizing for think tankers.” Desperation has a way of focusing the mind. As Ms. McArdle said, “When they’re out of power, they have to think in a clearer way.”
Well, maybe. It also often happens that being "in the wilderness" causes you to become deranged. The right during the Clinton years became angrier, less intellectual and more personal in its anti-Clinton loathing. The Democratic Party arguably became clearer-thinking toward the end of the Reagan-Bush years, such that Clinton in '92 had veered from some left-liberal orthodoxies. But I don't see much sign that Democrats today have gained intellectual benefits from White House exile during the G.W. years; a perusal of, say, Daily Kos reveals an active disdain for ideas other than tactical ones. And I don't have much optimism that Republicans in a President Obama era will necessarily come up with cogent, persuasive new analyses.

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