During the fall of 2000, a political science professor at my university stated, quite correctly, I think, that the Democratic and Republican parties were becoming so alike that Americans were given no real choice in a given election year. I agreed with him then and I agree with him now.
Many Republicans, myself included, voted for George W. Bush because we didn’t think it possible that he could be as fiscally irresponsible as his father, our 41st president who was replaced by a more fiscally responsible – though considerably more morally flawed – Democrat.
In 2004, after the inexcusable expansion of entitlement programs and the creation of new government offices such as the utterly unnecessary and hopelessly inefficient Department of Homeland Security, many of us voted for Bush again. We did it because we thought Bush would make decent Supreme Court choices, and we were right. We also thought he could not become more fiscally irresponsible, and we were wrong.
By the end of his second term in office, we realized we had more than just a liberal Republican president on our hands. With the help of the worst Secretary of Treasury in history we had a president who would move our country further in the direction of socialism than any Republican president in history.
Some have called George W. Bush “our Jimmy Carter.” But that is unfair to Carter whose mistakes could be remedied in a few short years. It will take decades to correct Bush’s economic mistakes and years to rebuild the Republican Party.
It will be difficult for the Republicans to recover from the damage done by the two very bad presidents – and the two very bad losing presidential candidates – we have offered voters since Ronald Reagan left office. But, if we do recover, it will happen because we followed the advice of our fourth president James Madison.
James Madison believed that a republic is best served by competing political parties, which offer constituents very different visions of governance. His successor, James Monroe did not. Our fifth president thought we should move past the notion of political parties and work together towards common goals. But after six years of widespread cooperation, the last two years of Monroe’s tenure were characterized by considerable political strife.