17 January 2004
Are the Democrats doomed?
Mike Taibbi, in the New York Press, asserts that "voters are repulsed by weakness," and, by extension, the Democrats as we know them:
[T]he Party, as currently constructed, will never be able to get around this problem. Why? Because weakness is inherent in the party’s ideology.
There are only two ways to appear strong. One is to stand for something. The other is to kick ass. Today’s Democrats most emphatically are not equipped to do either.
On the standing-for-something front, that question was settled long ago. Nothing can be more obvious than that the current Democratic leadership considers actual principle a laughable electoral weakness. This was demonstrated most forcefully a few weeks ago when Hillary Clinton joked about Mohatma Gandhi having worked in a St. Louis gas station. If Gandhi were running in this race, the Democratic Leadership Council bet on it would be warning of a McGovern-like landslide defeat. Democrats consider strength to be the skillful capture of swing votes via the tactically precise execution of a fuzzy policy of standing for nothing at all, as in the case of Bill Clinton.
Okay, they don't stand for anything. Can they kick ass?
As it stands, the Republicans are tougher than the Democrats because they will not hesitate to bomb the hell out of anyone, provided that the target cannot meaningfully fight back. But here's the thing: The Republicans are not interested in ruling other countries, any more than they are interested in ruling the United States. All they really want to do is make money. They only use military force insofar as it is necessary to a) extract another country's resources, and b) ensure that these countries become and remain markets for American products. Beyond these parameters, they're amazingly squeamish about using the military.
This may explain why there's been only the faintest rattling of sabres in the general direction of Pyongyang: North Korea, absent its smallish collection of fungible nukes, can't afford so much as a Brown Bag Special at Sonic.
What to do? Taibbi suggests that an upcoming Democratic administration, assuming there will be an upcoming Democratic administration within any of our lifetimes, leverage what perceived advantage they may have in domestic affairs the GOP owns foreign policy and simply annex the rest of the world, thereby making everything effectively (or, knowing the Democrats, ineffectively) domestic. Pax americana, here we come.