Home
In this issue
April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Oct. 29, 2007 / 17 Mar-Cheshvan

When There's No Life in the Party

By Michael Barone


Printer Friendly Version
Email this article

http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | "Pray take away this pudding," Winston Churchill commanded one night at dinner. "It has no theme." Our two political parties, facing the first election in 80 years in which neither the incumbent president nor the incumbent vice president is running, are similarly bereft of themes. Or, to put it more precisely, neither has a convincing narrative of where we are in history and where we should be headed next.


Successful political parties usually have such narratives. Theodore Roosevelt's Republicans believed in respecting but also regulating private property and in conducting a muscular and assertive foreign policy. This seemed appropriate in a nation that had grown from 5 million to nearly 90 million in the preceding century, that had built the world's largest economy, and that had a huge but untapped potential for international power. Franklin Roosevelt's Democrats believed in government intervention in the economy and a federal safety net and in using military power to advance freedom and democracy in the world. This seemed appropriate in a nation that had seen its economy collapse but still had the resources to oppose tyranny around the world.


Today's parties lack such narratives. The Democratic Party is all about, well, listen to its rhetoric. It's all about opposing George W. Bush and all his works. But where to go from there? Domestically, Democrats seem to be reviving the fdr narrative: Expand government to help the little guy. Some thoughtful Democratic strategists argue that although this view was discredited by the stagflation and gas lines of the 1970s, voters are once again ready for more government, and they can cite some poll results in support of that proposition. And it's true that the median-age voter in 2008 will have no vivid memories of the 1970s.


But it's interesting that in resuscitating the FDR narrative, these Democrats-even Hillary Clinton-are setting aside the lessons of their party's only successful president of the past 40 years. Bill Clinton was careful to agree that the fdr narrative was obsolete, by backing welfare reform and a balanced budget, and making only incremental progressive changes, like expanding the earned income tax credit. We don't hear such talk today.


On foreign policy, among today's Democrats only Joe Lieberman stays true to the fdr narrative. Instead, the suggestion is that they will get us out of Iraq (although their leading presidential candidates concede that U.S. troops may still be there in 2013) and that with Bush banished to Texas the world will be friends with us again. That ignores the threats that Bill Clinton and Bush grappled with, not always successfully, but at least with an awareness that all was not benign out there.


New problems. The Republicans are no better. Many say the party must go back to Ronald Reagan, and the Reagan narrative is at least of recent vintage. Reagan taught that government had grown overlarge and must be cut back and that America must be the assertive champion of freedom and democracy. The problem is that none of the Republican presidential candidates occupy Reagan's place on the political spectrum, and the problems we face are not those that confronted Reagan in 1980.


We no longer have 70 percent tax rates and oil price controls; we no longer face the symmetric threat of Soviet communism. The problem of overlarge government-the threat that entitlements will gobble up the government and the private economy-is real but remote. Our foreign adversaries are asymmetric, with a small but worrying potential of inflicting vast damage, and they are not entirely vulnerable to conventional military or diplomatic pressures.


Neither party is presenting a narrative, as the Roosevelts and Reagan did, that takes due note of America's great strengths and achievements. Each seems to take the course, easier in a time of polarized politics, of lambasting the opposition. The Democrats suggest that all our troubles can be laid at the door of George W. Bush. The Republicans, noting Bush's low job ratings, complain about the disasters that will ensue if Hillary Clinton is elected. All these may be defensible as campaign tactics. But it is not a pudding that can successfully govern.

Every weekday JewishWorldReview.com publishes what many in in the media and Washington consider "must-reading". Sign up for the daily JWR update. It's free. Just click here.

BARONE'S LATEST
The New Americans  

Now, more than ever, the melting pot must be used to keep America great. Barone attacks multiculturalism and anti-American apologists--but he also rejects proposals for building a wall to keep immigrants out, or rounding up millions of illegals to send back home. Rather, the melting pot must be allowed to work (as it has for centuries) to teach new Americans the values, history, and unique spirit of America so they, too, can enjoy the American dream.. Sales help fund JWR.

JWR contributor Michael Barone is a columnist at U.S. News & World Report. Comment by clicking here.




Michael Barone Archives

© 2006, US News & World Report

Columnists

Toons

Lifestyles