One-Party State Watch
By Arnold Kling
I went to an event on the future of conservatism, described here. No one was raising bright prospects for the Republican Party. At one point, Governor Daniels, the cover boy for National Review this week and the featured speaker, referred to the Republican Party as an “old jalopy.” I believe it was also Governor Daniels who said that “we’re in the penalty box.” Rich Lowry said that a party’s success depends on leaders, tone, policies, and circumstances, and that the Republicans have none of these going for them at the moment. At various points, it was noted out that the Republicans are hurting with young voters, Hispanics, and with intellectuals (a Republican committee staffer made the latter point during the question period). Lowry compared his coming of age under Reagan to today’s young voters coming of age under Obama. I estimated the audience as 2 percent Black, 0 percent Hispanic, 2 percent Asian (including South Asians), and 96 percent white.
My question was whether, given all of the baggage of the Republican Party, conservatism ought to look elsewhere. The answers the panelists gave were that the Republicans are pretty much the only game in town for conservativews, and that sooner or later the Democrats will mess up and/or the public will get tired of the Democrats winning all the time.
I would not bet a whole lot on the theory that the American people will vote Republican because they love good competition. The Harlem Globetrotters are entertaining even if they always beat the Washington Generals. As the Republicans lose competitiveness, I predict that the Democrats will focus on using elections as a theatrical exercise for re-affirming group solidarity and loyalty to the progressive corporatist state. The trick will be to get people to watch election returns when there is no suspense. Election coverage will start to look like standard TV spectacles (think of the Academy Awards), featuring celebrities, tender emotional moments designed to make us bond with politicians, and perhaps even comedians and scantily-clad women.
My answer to my own question is that conservatives and libertarian ought to look elsewhere. Again, I think in terms of private schools, businesses, charities, and so forth. We will have to sacrifice more and more in order to participate in these activities, because they will be under assault from the one-party state. But that is where I would put my energy.