1860 & 2008
Tomorrow. One more dawn, one more day, one day more.
Update: Obama in Florida: Tomorrow, you can put an end to the politics that would divide a nation just to win an election; that tries to pit region against region, city against town, Republican against Democrat; that asks us to fear at a time when we need hope.
I think that, Wednesday morning, we’ll wake up to a realignment. Something is about to happen that has not happened for a long age.
In the 1850’s, the US decided that the moderate position on slavery, an elaborate don’t ask, don’t tell, was untenable. The Whigs collapsed, the Free Soil movement didn’t get traction, and a new party coalesced to find a new way.
In 1932, the US decided that running the government for the benefit of the banks might not be the best way to arrange things.
Those were realignments. We had a failed realignment in 1968-1982 in which the Republicans tried to build an alliance between the bankers of 1932 and the embers of the Southern racial and sexual hostilities that drove 1860. It failed because those embers were too cool, and because the policies that appealed to bankers in 1932 didn’t really help bankers in a global environment. Wall Street bubbled and burst; the real winners were oil barons and connected outfits like Halliburton and Blackwater.
Above all, we’re really tired of the notion that common sense is all you need. Sometimes, you need to make choices based on reality, not faith. Sometimes, you need to judge people by performance, not by their family or their accent.
But now, we’re going to have a realignment. Not because of the size of the victory, but because there’s no longer an argument for the losing side. There will be a new Republican party, perhaps with a new name, perhaps not. The old GOP will linger on for a decade or two; it might even win a few elections if it can find lucky and charismatic candidates . It’s a spent force.
There will be a new home for conservatives, but their alliance with the know-nothings and bigots has failed. It will be even harder to win with this formula going forward. It’s a losing strategy.