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The Best Laid Plans...

On political events and realignments.

10:35 AM, Dec 31, 2010 • By JAY COST
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So Karl is right.  Events have long been the critical ingredients in realignments, and what also matters is how the parties react to events.  It's often been the case that seemingly realigning events turned out to be non-starters because the parties responded effectively.  What's noteworthy about the country's three big realignments is how at least one party was boxed in by circumstances, unable for whatever reason to adapt to the political, economic, or social changes forced upon it.  When a party enjoys more room to manuever, as Truman and the Democrats had in the 1940s, it's a pretty safe bet that it will figure out some sort of strategy.

I think there are two big takeaway points here.  First, Republicans need to be ready for the intervention of events, especially our impending debt crisis, which could very well make or break the long-term prospects for Republican governance.  Second, and just as important, they have to be prepared for the Democratic response to those events.  The big mistake of Obama and his Democratic allies in the last two years, I think, was their failure to appreciate fully that 2008 was not the final American election, nor was it the end of the Republican party.  Instead, the GOP had an opportunity to respond, and it did so effectively in the 2010 midterm.  Republicans, now that they have regained a share of power, need to appreciate that the Democrats are going to try just as the GOP did to master the events of the next two years, and that Barack Obama cannot be underestimated like the pundits counted Harry Truman out after the 1946 elections.

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