The Democrats are poised to hurl America right over the cliff, to the rocks below.
Wait -- I didn't say they long to do such like, or that, in suicidal mood, they'd take the chance if they got it, assuming they win big in 2008. I think if they do win, much of the creepy teeth-baring and chest-pounding they presently go in for will likely just . . . go away.
Which could be one reason for electing the Democrats: to make them put up or shut up. To oblige them to quit griping about the President from Hell and start doing something.
A reasonable guess (it seems to me) is that the Democrats believe 35 to 50 percent of what their congressional leaders and presidential candidates have routinely asserted for some time -- e.g., we need to run, run, run home from Iraq, as fast as our little legs can carry us; rich people are too rich, poor people are too poor; inequality is increasing; taxes should rise; free trade is destroying the workers; the U.S. automobile industry is helping ruin the environment; oil companies are evil -- or anyway evil-ish; communist Cuba has better health care than we do. And so on.
Suppose the newly empowered Democrats got the chance in 2009 to act on these varied complaints. Would they? In fact, reality would set in, as it commonly (though not always) does when one acquires power, only to learn how many different and competing legislative visions have to be dealt with.
Take autos: Many Democrats say they want to compel poor, sputtering Detroit to build cars that get better mileage. That's fine when you lack the power to do it (and when one of your most powerful congressmen, Michigan's John Dingell, is working to tie your hands). But say you've got the votes. How hard do you propose, really, to jump up and down on a fragile industry whose workforce is close to 100 percent Democratic? Not too hard? That's what I would bet.
Given the Democratic tilt of hedge fund billionaires and high-tech titans, precisely how do you propose limiting and/or taxing their admittedly vast compensation? Do you really want to?
Democrats by and large are no more insincere than Republicans by and large in passionate enunciation of broad electoral aims, but the reality is that broad electoral aims get achieved only in time of crisis (e.g., the New Deal, the non-stop debacles of the Carter years) or after years of careful preparation (e.g., the Reagan- and Bush-era tax cuts). Or both. The Democratic agenda in 2008 addresses only one actual crisis -- in Iraq. Not even here have the Democrats actually thought through their own, ah, solutions, centered on American disengagement from the conflict.
I mean, one can't help wondering: Aren't we talking about two different things here -- 1) talking up American abandonment of Iraq and 2) actually watching as U.S. troops head for the hills, under White House orders, and Iraqis start blowing up one another in earnest? One has the feeling that not even Harry Reid -- the Senate Democratic leader who can't seem to start his day until he's knocked "Bush and Rove" upside the head for incompetence -- looks forward to presiding over an international catastrophe.
So what eats at these people, these Democrats? One more reasonable guess and I'll quit: Opportunism eats at them, gnaws their ankles, consumes their innards. The Democrats frankly don't care what they say so long as whatever it is appears to inflame the voters, stir discontent with the present Republican regime; so long as it seems to lift the Democratic party a little nearer to the goal of power.
Yes, power, wonderful power! Power to stick it to those who took power from you; to pay them back good; to rub their noses in powerlessness and humiliation. I'd say that's the motive power of the Democrats right now: payback, vengeance, revenge.
Program? Ideas? Mere incidentals. They'll think of something when the time comes.
Can you hardly wait 'til it does?