Some believe Republicans should lose this fall to show the party bosses that its conservative wing cannot be taken for granted. This is Richard Viguerie's argument in an essay in Sunday's Washington Post. About the prospect that "millions of conservatives" might stay home this November, Viguerie, a veteran of the 1980s "New Right," writes: "And maybe they should. Conservatives are beginning to realize that nothing will change until there's a change in the GOP leadership. If congressional Republicans win this fall, they will see themselves as vindicated, and nothing will get better."
Democrats suffer from a similar affliction. Ultra-left groups like MoveOn.org claim Sen. Hillary Clinton isn't liberal enough, as she cloaks her liberalism with moderate talk for a possible run for president in 2008. The Democratic agenda in Congress is nonexistent. It merely repeats the familiar lines about class and race. Democrats lack new ideas that would benefit the most Americans and move the country forward. The Democratic "policy" in Iraq is to get out. The Democratic economic policy is higher taxes, more spending and bigger government. Republicans aren't much better. Their policy is lower taxes, more spending and bigger government. That's an echo, not a choice.
The death of ideology reflects public apathy and cynicism about politics, which is partially the fault of politicians who increasingly lack convictions that cannot be swayed by a focus group. Alternative media allow people to tune in or read only those things that ratify their points of view. This self-imposed ideological segregation prevents minds from being stretched by the presentation of ideas different from one's own.
In the description of a course he taught in the fall of 2004 at The University of Washington, Dr. Steven W. Collins wrote, "Ideologies link political ideas to organized political action, helping individuals orient themselves within their social, economic and political circumstances."
What happens when ideologies and ideas evaporate is that the public becomes politically disoriented. With too many Republicans acting like Democrats and both parties seeming to want power for its own sake, the public has understandably become not only politically disoriented, but disgusted.
Cal Thomas is co-author (with Bob Beckel) of the book, "Common Ground: How to Stop the Partisan War That is Destroying America".
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